Dr Douglas Orr


Research Overview

One of my major focuses is related to the biochemistry of photosynthesis and approaches to improving photosynthetic efficiency through engineering and/or identifying natural variation to incorporate into breeding programs. Much of this work centres on the central enzyme of photosynthesis, Rubisco (Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase). As the gatekeeper of carbon entry into the biosphere, Rubisco serves the critical role of assimilating carbon from atmospheric CO2 for the plant to use in growth. However, Rubisco has undesirable characteristics which make it a major rate-limiter of photosynthesis, particularly in crop plants. Currently my photosynthesis research is focused on two main areas: we are collaborating with colleagues to investigate the incorporation of cyanobacterial carbon concentrating mechanisms into higher plants as a means to overcome some of Rubiscos shortcomings and boost plant productivity; and as part of RIPE: Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, we are investigating Rubisco diversity and it's regulation during rapid changes in conditions.I am also working with colleagues on a number of other ideas around plant engineering for diverse purposes related to plant biotechnology.