Regulation and Evolution of C4 Photosynthesis

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2020 Apr 29;71:183-215. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042916-040915. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


C4 photosynthesis evolved multiple times independently from ancestral C3 photosynthesis in a broad range of flowering land plant families and in both monocots and dicots. The evolution of C4 photosynthesis entails the recruitment of enzyme activities that are not involved in photosynthetic carbon fixation in C3 plants to photosynthesis. This requires a different regulation of gene expression as well as a different regulation of enzyme activities in comparison to the C3 context. Further, C4 photosynthesis relies on a distinct leaf anatomy that differs from that of C3, requiring a differential regulation of leaf development in C4. We summarize recent progress in the understanding of C4-specific features in evolution and metabolic regulation in the context of C4 photosynthesis.

Keywords: CO2 fixation; evolution; posttranslational regulation; redox regulation; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Photosynthesis*
  • Plant Leaves*
  • Plants