Chloroplasts, which are specialized compartments in plant cells, convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen ("fuel" for the plant) during photosynthesis. The newly discovered protein, trigalactosyldiacylglycerol 4, or TGD4, offers insight into how the process works.
"Nobody knew how this mechanism worked before we described this protein," said Christoph Benning, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. "This protein directly affects photosynthesis and how plants create biomass (stems, leaves and stalks) and oils."
Benning also is a member of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, a partnership between MSU and the University of Wisconsin-Madison funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct basic research aimed at solving some of the most complex problems in converting natural materials to energy.
The research, published in the August 2008 issue of journal The Plant Cell, shows how TGD4 is essential for the plant to make chloroplasts. Plants that don't have the protein die before they can develop beyond the embryonic stage.
Understanding how TGD4 works may allow scientists to create plants that would be used exclusively to produce biofuels, possibly making the process more cost-effective. Most plants that are used to produce oils – corn, soybeans and canola, for example – accumulate the oil in their seeds.
"We've found that if the TGD4 protein is malfunctioning, the plant then accumulates oil in its leaves," Benning said. "If the plant is storing oil in its leaves, there could be more oil per plant, which could make production of biofuels such as biodiesel more efficient. More research is needed so we can completely understand the mechanism of operation."
Other members of the MSU research team are: Changcheng Xu, research assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; Jilian Fan, research technician; and Adam Cornish, biochemistry undergraduate student at the time of the research and current graduate student.
The research was funded by the Energy Department and the National Science Foundation. Benning's research also is supported by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.
New research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology
Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences