Photorespiration is the light-dependent release of CO2 initiated by Rubisco (ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase) during oxygenic photosynthesis. It occurs during the biochemical reactions of the photorespiratory C2 cycle, which is an ancillary metabolic process that allows photosynthesis to occur in oxygen-containing environments. Recent research has identified the genes for many plant photorespiratory enzymes, allowing precise functional analyses by reverse genetics. Similar studies with cyanobacteria disclosed the evolutionary origin of photorespiratory metabolism in these ancestors of plastids.

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