Current crop yields will not be enough to sustain today's diets for a growing global population. As plant photosynthetic efficiency has not reached its theoretical maximum, optimizing photosynthesis is a promising strategy to enhance plant productivity. The low productivity of C3 plants is caused in part by the substantial energetic investments necessary to maintain a high flux through the photorespiratory pathway. Accordingly, lowering the energetic costs of photorespiration to enhance the productivity of C3 crops has been a goal of synthetic plant biology for decades. The use of synthetic bypasses to photorespiration in different plants showed an improvement of photosynthetic performance and growth under laboratory and field conditions, even though in silico predictions suggest that the tested synthetic pathways should confer a minimal or even negative energetic advantage over the wild type photorespiratory pathway. Current strategies increasingly utilize theoretical modeling and new molecular techniques to develop synthetic biochemical pathways that bypass photorespiration, representing a highly promising approach to enhance future plant productivity.

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