Recent Posts

Rubisco condensate formation by CcmM in β-carboxysome biogenesis (Nature) ($)

Cyanobacterial carbon-dioxide concentrating mechanisms elevate intracellular inorganic carbon as bicarbonate, and then concentrate it as carbon-dioxide around the enzyme Rubisco in specialized protein micro-compartments called carboxysomes. The formation of B-carboxysomes involves an aggregation between…

The Terpene Synthases of Red Algae Have a Bacterial Origin

The red algae (Rhodophyta), encompassing over 8,000 species, are the richest source of marine secondary metabolites. Among red algae, many genera produce terpenes, which constitute the largest class of secondary metabolites. Despite the rich diversity of terpenes in red algae, little is known about how…

A femtomolar-range suicide germination stimulant for the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica (Science)($)

Striga hermonthica (Striga) parasitizes a wide range of crops including sorghum and rice, mainly  in sub-Saharan Africa. This parasite decreases crop yields and results in billions of dollars in economic damage. Striga seeds are numerous and remain dormant in the soil until prompted to germinate by…

Exploring Pollen Patterns to Learn How Cells Create Distinct Domains

Lee et al. identify a protein involved in pollen aperture development and the formation of distinct membrane domains in microspores. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00442  By Byung Ha Lee and Anna Dobritsa Background: Pollen grains are famous for their ability to develop various intricate patterns…

Chloroplasts can Import Folded Proteins

Ganesan et al. investigate protein import into chloroplasts The Plant Cell (2018).  By Iniyan Ganesan and Steven Theg Background: Chloroplasts are the green compartment in plant cells that carry out photosynthesis. Most plant proteins are made in the cytoplasm and many need to cross different…

Special Issue - Plant Biotechnology, focus on lignin (Curr Opin Biotechnol) ($)

A forthcoming issue of Current Opinion in Biotechnology features a set of reviews on the topic of lignin, particularly its chemistry and applications. Lignin is a complex set of polymers that provide structural support to vascular plants (See Renault et al. for insights into lignin's evolutionary origins).…

Questions about Coenzyme Q? A New Genetic/Metabolic Study Has Answers

Anyone who works on plants should be dazzled by the complexity and versatility of plant metabolism. In fact, why restrict this to plant biologists? We all love plant metabolites, whether we’re enjoying the caffeine in our morning cup of tea, or the capsaicin heat in the pepper flakes on our lunchtime…

New Insights into Carboxysomes

Despite its essential role in photosynthetic carbon fixation, ribulose 1,5 bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) is a relatively inefficient enzyme, due in part to its inability to discriminate between CO2 and O2 as substrates. To suppress the oxygenase reaction and enhance the carboxylase activity…

Setting and Diffusing the Cyanide Bomb in Plant Defense

Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is a potent inhibitor of cytochrome c oxidase, a conserved component of the respiratory electron transport chain in all aerobic life. Thus, HCN is well suited to serve as a broad-spectrum chemical defense, and indeed it plays such a role in many interactions between plants and…