Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London have discovered a mechanism that controls the way that organisms breathe or photosynthesise, potentially paving the way for improved biofuel production.
Writing in the journal PNAS, Dr Lu-ning Lu and Professor Conrad Mullineaux from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences report that by exposing cells to different light conditions, they have changed the way in which electrons are transported.
Professor Mullineaux explains: "Any organism that breathes or photosynthesises depends on tiny electrical circuits operating within biological membranes. We are trying to find out what controls these circuits: what makes the electrons take the routes that they do, and what switches are available to send the electrons to other destinations?"
Cyanobacteria are a kind of bacterium that both breathes and photosynthesises and therefore has a complicated set of different possible electron transport pathways.
The team put specific fluorescent tags on some of the protein components involved in electron transport, and then viewed the live cells with a fluorescence microscope to see where those complexes are in the cell.
By studying the cells in this way, the team visualised a biological electrical switch in action. When they changed the conditions (for example by making the light brighter or dimmer), the cell responded by changing the position of the complexes, which leads to major changes in the pathways of electron transport.
Full understanding of these mechanisms could help with re-engineering of cyanobacteria for improved solar-powered biofuel production, for example.
Sian Halkyard | EurekAlert!
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences