RuBisCO (full name : Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase) is a crucial enzyme involved in the conversion of CO2 into sugars during photosynthesis. Without it, photosynthesising plants (and all other organisms which depend on plants, or require oxygen) could not exist. It's so widespread, some have called it 'The most common enzyme on Earth'.
Under well-lit conditions, the enzyme bonds with Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere - but, around 25% of the time it links to Oxygen instead. The plant then needs to go through a complex set of conversions to eliminate the (apparently unwanted) oxygenated products.
Some researchers assert that the O2 absorbtion - known as Photorespiration - is, in effect, a 'faulty' process somehow locked into the plants' evolution in the distant past.
Others point to possible benefits - e.g. that it may play a role in facilitating Nitrogen assimilation from the soil.
A third viewpoint is that the O2 absorption process serves some as-yet-undiscovered purpose.
Also see :and
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