The research, performed mostly by Graham Peers in the laboratory of Krishna Niyogi from the University of California, Berkeley, included researchers at the University of Münster, Germany, and used a mutant strain of the single-celled green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, originally isolated at the Carnegie Institution, to show that a specific protein of the light harvesting family of proteins plays a critical role in eliminating excess absorbed light energy.
A mutant lacking this protein, designated LHCSR, suffered severely when exposed to fluctuating light conditions. "Photosynthetic organisms must be able to manage absorbed light energy," says study co-author Arthur Grossman of Carnegie's Department of Plant Biology, "and the LHCSR proteins appear to be critical for algae to eliminate absorbed light energy as heat as light levels in the environment fluctuate, becoming potentially toxic."
Grossman points out that photosynthetic organisms have developed a number of different mechanisms for managing the absorption of light energy and that these different mechanisms may be tailored to the diversity of environments in which organisms have evolved. Some have evolved in deserts where both light levels and temperatures can be very high while others have evolved in alpine environments where the light levels can be very high and temperatures very low.
"As we understand more about the ways in which the environment impacts the evolution of the photosynthetic machinery, we may be able to introduce specific mechanisms into plants that allow them to better manage absorbed light energy, which in turn would let them survive harsher environmental conditions" Grossman says, "which would have obvious benefits for agriculture."
He also notes the current interest in using algae to generate biofuels, and the possibility of cultivating algae in deserts, where solar input can be extremely high. As he states, "If we are going to attempt this we have to make sure that we use the right algae that can thrive and produce oils at high levels under harsh environmental conditions. It's possible that we can also tailor various features of the photosynthetic machinery to let algae use light energy more efficiently and suffer less damage under extremely high light and temperature conditions, but I would emphasize that there are many extreme challenges associated with the creation of such robust, commercially viable strains."
The research appears in the 26 November issue of Nature.
The Carnegie Institution (www.CIW.edu) has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902. It is a private, nonprofit organization with six research departments throughout the U.S. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.
Arthur Grossman | EurekAlert!
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine