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Minor millets as model system to study C4 photosynthesis - A review

P. Vivitha, D. Vijayalakshmi*
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1<p>Department of Crop Physiology,&nbsp;Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore-641 003, India.</p>
Cite article:- Vivitha P., Vijayalakshmi* D. (2015). Minor millets as model system to study C4 photosynthesis - A review . Agricultural Reviews. 36(4): 296-304. doi: 10.18805/ag.v36i4.6666.

C4 photosynthesis is the primary mode of carbon capture and drives productivity in several major food crops and bio-energy grasses. Gains in productivity associated with C4 photosynthesis include improved water and nitrogen use efficiencies. Within grasses rice and brachypodium are used as model species. Since these two crops are using C3 photosynthesis for their growth and development, it cannot be used as model for to study C4 photosynthesis. In order to characterize the evolutionary innovations and to provide genomic insight into crop improvement for the many important crop species, a new genomic and genetic model species is required. Minor millets have small diploid genomes, shorter life cycles, self pollination and prolific seed production. Due to these characteristics it gains importance over major C4 species which lack all of these traits. Within Minor millets, Setaria italica and Setaria viridis are used as model systems since these crops fulfils all the traits responsible to be a model species. Importantly, Setaria species uses NADP-Malic enzyme subtype C4 photosynthetic system to fix carbon and therefore is a potential powerful model system for dissecting C4 photosynthesis. C4 grasses have a shorter distance between longitudinal veins in the leaves than C3 grasses. The C4 grasses have denser transverse and small longitudinal veins than the C3 grasses. It indicates that C4 grasses have a structurally superior photosynthate translocation and water distribution system by developing denser networks of small longitudinal and transverse veins. Setaria has high vein density and kranz anatomy that helps to concentrate CO2 in the bundle sheath cells. This minimizes photorespiration thereby prevents the loss of energy.

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