Recent Posts

A novel hypothesis for the role of photosynthetic physiology in shaping macroevolutionary patterns (Plant Physiol)

In the 450 million(ish) years since plants acquired the ability to live on land, they have caused dramatic changes in the concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and O2 levels. As an example, due to tremendous increases in photosynthesis, CO2 levels dropped and O2 levels rose dramatically in the late Paleozoic…

Mapping the landscape of C4 gene regulation

Burgess et al characterize genome-wide patterns of transcription factor binding to provide insight into the architecture associated with C4 photosynthesis gene expression. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.19.00078 By Steven James Burgess (University of Cambridge, UK) and Ivan A. Reyna-Llorens…

Genome-wide transcription factor binding in leaves from C3 and C4 grasses (Plant Cell)

Most plants use the C3 photosynthesis pathway, however many have evolved strategies like C4 photosynthesis that accumulate CO2 around RuBisCO. Burgess et al. performed DNAseI-SEQ in three C4 plants: S. bicolor, Z. mays and S. italica, and one C3: B. dystachion, to offer an insight into the cis-element…

A Rubisco-binding protein is required for normal pyrenoid number and starch sheath morphology in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (PNAS)

In most eukaryotic algae, carbon fixation takes place in an organelle within an organelle, the pyrenoid inside of the chloroplast. Besides being functionally very important, pyrenoids are interesting because they are what is called a phase-separated structure, that is they are not membrane enclosed;…

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,…