Perspectives on the basic and applied aspects of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) research

Degao Liu, Kaitlin J. Palla, Rongbin Hu, Robert C. Moseley, Christopher Mendoza, Mei Chen, Paul E. Abraham, Jessy L. Labbé, Udaya C. Kalluri, Timothy J. Tschaplinski, John C. Cushman, Anne M. Borland, Gerald A. Tuskan, Xiaohan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Due to public concerns about the decreasing supply of blue water and increasing heat and drought stress on plant growth caused by urbanization, increasing human population and climate change, interest in crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), a specialized type of photosynthesis enhancing water-use efficiency (WUE) and drought tolerance, has increased markedly. Significant progress has been achieved in both basic and applied research in CAM plants since the beginning of this century. Here we provide a brief overview of the current status of CAM research, and discuss future needs and opportunities in a wide range of areas including systems biology, synthetic biology, and utilization of CAM crops for human benefit, with a focus on the following aspects: 1) application of genome-editing technology and high-throughput phenotyping to functional genomics research in model CAM species and genetic improvement of CAM crops, 2) challenges for multi-scale metabolic modeling of CAM systems, 3) opportunities and new strategies for CAM pathway engineering to enhance WUE and drought tolerance in C 3 (and C 4 ) photosynthesis crops, 4) potential of CAM species as resources for food, feed, natural products, pharmaceuticals and biofuels, and 5) development of CAM crops for ecological and aesthetic benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-401
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript has been authored by UT-Battelle, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The United States Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United States Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes. The Department of Energy will provide public access to these results of federally sponsored research in accordance with the DOE Public Access Plan ( ).

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Genomic Science Program under Award Number DE-SC0008834 . The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC for the U.S. DOE under Contract Number DE-AC05-00OR22725.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Crassulacean acid metabolism
  • Genome editing
  • Metabolic modeling
  • Natural products
  • Synthetic biology
  • Water-use efficiency


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