Green plants use photosynthesis to convert sunlight to chemical energy, but too much sunlight can result in oxidation damage.
Another important piece to the photosynthesis puzzle is now in place. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have identified one of the key molecules that help protect plants from oxidation damage as the result of absorbing too much light.
The researchers determined that when chlorophyll molecules in green plants take in more solar energy than they are able to immediately use, molecules of zeaxanthin, a member of the carotenoid family of pigment molecules, carry away the excess energy.
This study was led by Graham Fleming, director of Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division and a chemistry professor with UC Berkeley, and Kris Niyogi, who also holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. Its results are reported in the January 21, 2005 issue of the journal Science. Co-authoring the paper with Fleming and Niyogi were Nancy Holt, plus Donatas Zigmantas, Leonas Valkunas and Xiao-Ping Li.
Lynn Yarris | EurekAlert!
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