Unfortunately, scientists found that nature isn't fast enough in absorbing CO2 from the air. To compete and assist nature, scientists devised a synthetic method to make CO2-sucking faster and more efficient.
The second cycle of photosynthesis in plants is called the Calvin cycle. This light-independent cycle is where carbon dioxide absorption occurs. It is when plants incorporates carbon dioxide into an organic molecule.
But scientists found that the enzyme RuBisCO, the one responsible for carbon absorption process, is slow and sometimes dysfunctional.
Tobias Erb, the lead researcher from Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology said, "It backfires often, meaning about every fifth attempt RuBisCO will mix up CO2 with oxygen gas."
The researchers looked into their database of 40,000 enzymes from different organic sources so they can engineer a better system.
They ended up with 17 different enzymes from 9 different organisms and created a 12-step system through them to recreate the Calvin Cycle. The enzymes are variants of enoyl-CoA carboxylase/reductase (ECR).
Breathing Earth - Biofilters
"ECRs are supercharged enzymes that are capable of fixing CO2
at the rate of nearly 20 times faster than the most widely prevalent CO2
-fixing enzyme in nature, RuBisCo, which carries out the heavy lifting involved in photosynthesis," Erb said.
The synthetic enzyme-based system can run 2 to 3 times faster than plants.
The researchers had only ran the test in test tubes. Their synthetic system will still have to be incorporated to living organisms like plants to get it to work. But they also have to figure out how to do that.
This research and its findings are published in Science