Recent Posts

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…

Update: Engineering of metabolic pathways using synthetic enzyme complexes

By Nicholas Smirnoff, University of Exeter. This article is part of the forthcoming Synthetic Biology focus issue. Plants provide a source of enzymes for metabolic engineering to produce valuable or useful products in micro-organisms or can themselves be engineered (Andre et al., 2016; Vickery et…

Assembling a Nanomolecular Power Station

Zhang et al. investigate the assembly of a molecular motor that produces cellular ATP in chloroplasts https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00075. By Lin Zhang, Lianwei Peng and Jean-David Rochaix Background: The F-type ATP synthase produces nearly all of the cellular ATP, the universal energy currency…

How Peroxisomes Modulate Chloroplast Activity in a Microalga

Background: Chloroplasts are the major powerhouse of plant and algal cells, where photosynthesis—the conversion of carbon dioxide into organic compounds using sunlight energy—occurs. Chloroplasts are also where important cell components (such as membrane lipids and pigments) and energy-rich compounds…

Taking the TOC/TIC path to the chloroplast

Richardson et al. explore the molecular topology of the chloroplast transit peptide and its nucleotide-dependent movement within the chloroplast protein import channel. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00172. By Lynn GL Richardson and Danny J Schnell Background: Chloroplasts, the site…

Heat-inducible lipase HIL1 mitigates heat stress in Arabidopsis

Higashi et al. investigate the function of a heat-inducible lipase in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell (2018). https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00347 By Yasuhiro Higashi and Kazuki Saito Background: Land plants suffer from high-temperature stress, exacerbated by climate changes in recent years.…