Recent Posts

Algal-fungal symbiosis may account for the origin of basal land plant species (eLIFE)

Light serves as the source of energy as well as an information signal for photosynthetic plants. During evolution, plants have acquired the ability to monitor environmental light radiation and adjust their developmental patterns to optimally utilize light energy for photosynthesis. However how the early-diverging…

Awaking the sleeping carboxylase ($) (JACS)

One of the things I like most about synthetic biology is the “why not” attitude. This article by Bernhardsgrütter et al. is intriguing because rather than taking the standard “let’s fix Rubisco approach,” the authors started with a non-CO2 fixing enzyme and engineered it towards having carboxylase…

Self-assembling organelles for CO2 fixation: stoichiometry and structural plasticity

Sun et al. investigate how carboxysomes are constructed and regulated in cyanobacteria. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00787 By Luning Liu Background: All cells are composed of well-defined compartments to encase enzymes and reactions to increase the efficiency of biological processes.…

Review: Integration of sulfate assimilation with C and N metabolism in transition from C3 to C4 photosynthesis (J Exp Bot)

“Cysteine (HO2CCH(NH2)CH2SH) synthesis is the converging point of the three major pathways of primary metabolism: carbon, nitrate, and sulfate assimilation.” It’s hard enough to coordinate two pathways, let alone three; but these metabolic connections are revealed in that a deficiency in one nutrient…

Interviews with synthetic biologists: Paul South

Synthetic biology is a set of tools, a way of thinking, the integration of engineering principles into biological sciences, and potentially the biggest opportunity for advances in plant sciences since PCR. Yet many struggle to define it, and fewer still grasp its full potential. In August 2019,…

A Reversible Switch for Algal Photosynthesis

Roth et al. investigate how a green alga turns photosynthesis off and on when glucose is added and then removed from the culture medium. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00742 By Melissa Roth and Krishna Niyogi, University of California-Berkeley Background: Photosynthesis is the life-sustaining…

Shared expression of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) genes pre-dates the origin of CAM in the genus Yucca (J Exp Bot)

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a carbon fixation pathway that reduces photorespiration and increases water use efficiency, enabling CAM plants to survive in inhospitable environments. The evolution of CAM on 35 independent occasions across angiosperms makes it a notable case study of convergent…

A Glucose Transporter Promotes Stomatal Conductance and Photosynthesis

Hai Wang et al. identify a regulator of stomatal movement and photosynthesis. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00736 By Hai Wang, Biotechnology Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Background: Fixation of atmospheric CO2 through photosynthesis is crucial for the…

Cold-adapted protein kinases and thylakoid remodeling impact energy distribution in an Antarctic psychrophile (Plant Phys)

“Earth is a cold place with 80% of its biosphere permanently below 5°C,” begins this study of an Antarctic psychrophile (“cold-lover”). As Szyszka-Mroz et al. indicate, the permanently cold-adapted inhabitants of permanently frozen lakes are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change,…