Setaria viridis is being promoted as a model C4 photosynthetic plant because it has a small genome (~515Mb), a short life cycle (~60d) and it can be transformed. Unlike other C4 grasses such as maize, however, there is very little information about how C4 leaf anatomy (Kranz anatomy) develops in S. viridis. As a foundation for future developmental genetic studies, Junqueira and colleagues provide an anatomical and ultrastructural framework of early shoot development in S. viridis, focusing on the initiation of Kranz anatomy in seed leaves.
C4 plants of interest as they’re more efficient at photosynthesis than most plants, which are dubbed C3 as they first fix carbon into phosphoglyceric acid, a molecule with 3 carbon atoms. C4 plants have an extra step in photosynthesis, resulting in a reduced loss of water in photosynthesis. This ability to conserve water makes them of interest for crop development.