Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Plant hemoglobins: Oxygen handlers critical for nitrogen fixation


Hemoglobins, key components of our blood, are ancient proteins with well-known roles in oxygen transport and respiration in animals. Hemoglobins are also present in plants and bacteria, but until now the physiological role of plant hemoglobins has been unclear. A group of researchers reveal this week that one such mysterious plant hemoglobin serves to assist in the fixation of nitrogen in the root nodules of legumes through a process that is conceptually not unlike that undertaken by mammalian hemoglobins in facilitating oxygen transport and exchange in the blood.

The most conspicuous plant hemoglobins are the symbiotic hemoglobins of legumes; these hemoglobins accumulate in root nodules and give these specialized organs their distinctive red color. Legume root nodules accommodate bacteria, called rhizobia, that reduce atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia, which is subsequently used by the plant for growth and colonization of nitrogen-poor soils. Symbiotic nitrogen fixation is important for sustainable agriculture and contributes millions of tons of reduced nitrogen to crops and pastures each year.

As reported this week, researchers led by Dr. Michael Udvardi at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology have succeeded in eliminating the production of symbiotic hemoglobins in nodules of the model legume Lotus japonicus, enabling researchers to assess for the first time the role and importance of these proteins in plants. The results of the study indicate that symbiotic hemoglobins are important for oxygen transport and energy metabolism in plant root nodules. Furthermore, these proteins help to maintain free-oxygen concentrations in nodules at levels low enough to avoid damage of oxygen-sensitive nitrogenase, the bacterial enzyme complex responsible for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Thus, plant hemoglobins fulfill roles analogous to those of animal hemoglobins, as well as novel roles that are apparently unique to symbiotic nitrogen fixation.

Thomas Ott, Joost van Dongen, Catrin Günther, Lene Krusell, Guilhem Desbrosses,1 Helene Vigeolas, Vivien Bock, Tomasz Czechowski, Peter Geigenberger, and Michael K. Udvardi: "Symbiotic Leghemoglobins Are Crucial for Nitrogen Fixation in Legume Root Nodules but Not for General Plant Growth and Development"

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

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...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

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...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>