Did early land plants use carbon-concentrating mechanisms?
Carbon-concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) in plants involve actively increasing CO2 concentrations near ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase (RuBisCO). The assumption has been that terrestrial plants did not evolve CCMs for well over 300 million years, yet most marine plants probably evolved CCMs at the time when oxygenic photosynthesis first occurred in the Paleozoic. One primary reason for this assumption is that analysis of genetic mutations for phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPc; an enzyme required for C4 and CAM photosynthesis) indicate a molecular age of no more than 65 Ma. Could the evolutionary response of both RuBisCO and PEPc to varying concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and O2 over geological time have obscured the real time when land plants first used PEPc during photosynthesis?