Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Photosynthesis in 3D

15.01.2015

Photosynthesis sustains most of the life on our planet. It harvests energy from sunlight, while generating oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The process takes place in the chloroplasts of plants and algae. Researchers in the team of Wolfgang Baumeister at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich were recently successful in revealing the native structure of the chloroplast in 3D. 

“The results are the first of their kind and provide us with new insights into the mechanisms of photosynthesis”, says Benjamin Engel, first author of the study. The results were recently published in the journal eLife.


3D cross section of a chloroplast of the alga Chlamydomonas. Small tubular structures connect the thylakoids (green stacks on the left) with the RuBisCO-containing pyrenoid (right).

Figure: Ben Engel / Copyright: MPI of Biochemistry

So far, researchers who wanted to observe tiny structures inside of cells had to use traditional electron microscopy. However, this method requires several preparation steps that damage cellular structures and limit the resolution and accuracy of the images. By using cryo-electron tomography, Wolfgang Baumeister and his team are able to avoid these steps by rapidly freezing the cells. Moreover, this allows them to visualize the internal architecture of cells in a close-to-living state. Using this technique, the scientists investigated the three dimensional structures of chloroplasts in the alga Chlamydomonas, shedding new light on their assembly and function.

Two spatially separated reactions take place during photosynthesis: while energy is harvested from sunlight in compartments called the thylakoids, carbon dioxide is fixed to form sugar molecules in a compartment called the pyrenoid. It was not understood how these processes could be coordinated. The new 3D images revealed the detailed structures of tubules that connect the pyrenoid with the thylakoids, providing conduits for the diffusion of energy molecules and sugars between these two separated parts of the chloroplast (see figure).

Besides the fact that there are connections between the two reaction compartments, the scientists were also able to show how the thylakoids receive new proteins and how the photosynthesis enzymes are organized: “In the pyrenoid, there are many units of the photosynthesis enzyme RuBisCO”, explains Benjamin Engel, scientist at the MPI of Biochemistry. “Our results show for the first time that these units are packed in a hexagonal arrangement.” In the future, the authors aim to elucidate how this RuBisCO organization is formed and whether more proteins are involved. [HS]

Original publication:
Engel B, Schaffer M, Kuhn Cuellar L, Villa E, Plitzko JM and Baumeister W: Native Architecture of the Chlamydomonas Chloroplast Revealed by In Situ Cryo-Electron Tomography. eLife, January 13, 2015.
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.04889

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Baumeister
Molecular Structural Biology
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
E-Mail: baumeist@biochem.mpg.de
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/baumeister

Anja Konschak
Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
Phone: +49 89 8578-2824
E-Mail: konschak@biochem.mpg.de
http://www.biochem.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.biochem.mpg.de/baumeister - Website of the Research Department "Molecular Structural Biology" (Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Baumeister)
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/news - More press releases of the MPI of Biochemistry

Anja Konschak | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>