The successful proposal will contribute to Destination ‘Circular economy and bioeconomy sectors’ impacts, and the European policies it supports, in particular the European Green Deal, the circular economy action plan and the bioeconomy strategy. They will help improve European industrial sustainability, competitiveness and resource independence to develop innovative bio-based products. They will engage all stakeholders and improve their knowledge and understanding of science, notably of biotechnology-based value chains, and improve benefits for consumers.
Projects results should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Wider application of recent advances in molecular biology and biotechnology to increase photosynthetic efficiency of plants and/or algae and other autotrophic organisms, increasing their assimilation of carbon dioxide, boosting biomass yields, their processing and recovery of substance and materials of economic interest, and resulting in potential contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- Increased industrial uptake of plants and photoautotrophic organisms via biotechnology approaches, for the production of high-value complex molecules, to improve cost- and resource-efficiency. Wider uptake of life sciences and biotechnology innovations, supporting high engagement of industry and SMEs in Europe.
- Greater understanding and application of biotechnology to address air pollution (especially ozone) by crops and plants related with heat waves and environmental stress.
- Greater and more inclusive understanding and awareness of innovations, via transparent communication and societal dialogue with all stakeholders (academia, industry, SMEs, NGOs, regulatory institutions, international partners etc.).
The photosynthetic capacity of plants, algae and other photosynthetic organisms to assimilate atmospheric carbon dioxide positions them at the centre of the global climate change adaptation and mitigation challenge. Their autotrophic lifestyle also makes them ideal platform organisms for sustainable production of biomolecules, including molecules of high socio-economic value, of interest to diverse industrial sectors, by increasingly sophisticated synthetic and molecular biology approaches.
This creates new opportunities for industrial production, beyond improved yields, while helping increase CO2 assimilation capacity - contributing notably to the reduction of pollution in Europe, and making it more efficient. In particular, recent research confirm a strong correlation between plant physiological reactions during drought and heat waves, which are increasing in frequency and intensity in Europe, notably by contributing to ozone pollution, the so-called ‘climate penalty of plants” .
The topic covers innovative technologies with potential to boost the efficiency of photosynthesis, reduce the ‘climate penalty of plants’, and increase their sustainable industrial application. All photoautotrophic organisms such as plants, micro- and macro algae, cyanobacteria and purple sulphur bacteria are in the scope.
International cooperation is strongly encouraged to allow the exchange of best practices while ensuring win-win scenarios and contributing to European competitiveness.
- Develop and apply a toolbox of technologies to optimise the photosynthesis pathways and structures of plants and algae to enable industrial manufacturing of large quantities of high-value bio-based compounds, substances or materials (excluding biofuels/bioenergy applications), while addressing the CO2 assimilation and the zero-pollution goals (especially ozone pollution) at sufficiently large scale.
- Identify and characterise the key aspects of the environmental and safety aspects, as well as the future scenarios of increasing environmental pressures under climate change conditions (water, gaseous inputs, land use etc.), for the selected crops, beyond the model species.
- Outline the necessary scale-up production processes for novel bio-based innovations in order to reach a critical mass for a given application (including the crop/species selection), to achieve economies of scale, address different market segments and applications.
- Consider process and product safety - including the occupational and consumer safety aspects - in value chains, in line with national or European regulationsEnsure the transparent and inclusive engagement of all actors, including industry and SMEs, the scientific community, regulatory institutions, and broader civil society, including NGOs, to ensure the necessary impact and awareness.
- Where relevant, proposals should seek links with and capitalise on the results of past  and ongoing  research projects, taking care to avoid overlaps.
For this topic, it is not mandatory to integrate the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) into research and innovation.
Specific Topic Conditions:
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 4-5 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.
In connection with European partnerships under Cluster 6, in particular Circular Bio-based Europe (CBE).
For instance, see Ort et al. Redesigning photosynthesis to sustainably meet global food and bioenergy demand. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA112, 8529–8536 (2015).
Notwithstanding the recognized need for even stronger emission reductions.
 O’Neill E. and Kelly, S. 2016 Engineering biosynthesis of high-value compounds in photosynthetic organisms,
Schander et al., A synthetic pathway for the fixation of carbon dioxide in vitro, Science 18 (Nov 2016): 900-904
Lin et al.Vegetation feedbacks during drought exacerbate ozone air pollution extremes in Europe. Nat. Clim. Chang.10, 444–451 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0743-y
Sadiq, M. The climate penalty of plants. Nat. Clim. Chang.10, 387–388 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0765-5
Air quality in Europe – 2019 report Report no. 10/2019 (European Environment Agency, 2019); https://www.eea.europa.eu//publications/air-quality-in-europe-2019
 E.g. FP7 project “3to4”: Converting C3 to C4 photosynthesis for sustainable agriculture
 E.g. Horizon 2020 call BIOTEC-02-2019: Boosting the efficiency of photosynthesis (RIA), with projects CAPITALISE, GAIN4CROPS and PhotoBoost.