Recent Posts

Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls ($)

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Cell walls are complex mixtures of cellulose microfibrils, proteins and other materials. Their mechanical properties can be measured and modeled, but it is not always simple to translate these measurements to changes at the molecular level. Zhang et al. used atomic force microscopy to provide an unprecedented…

The structure of a triple complex of plant photosystem I with ferredoxin and plastocyanin (Nature Plants)

Photosystem I (PSI) is a membrane-bound protein complex that plays a central role in the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy to drive assimilate production.  Photosystem I is an enzyme complex that transfers electrons from plastocyanin (Pc) to ferredoxin (Fd). Here Caspy et al. have characterized…

Gains in Grain Yield: A Pair of Spikelets Makes All the Difference, Even When One is Sterile

Mother Nature has a way of keeping seemingly useless structures around millions of years. Such structures are likely to have a use that is not obvious, although they could also be remnants of the evolutionary past without extant function, or non-functional but harmless byproducts of a different adaptive…

The dependency of red Rubisco on its cognate activase for enhancing plant photosynthesis and growth (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA)

The rate of carboxylation by Rubisco versus the rate of the competing oxygenation reaction limits photosynthesis in some conditions, so many researchers are investigating ways to enhance Rubisco. Rubisco is not limited to green plants but can be found in other lineages including red algae and photosynthetic…

Useless no more: infertile spikelets contribute to grain yield in a major food crop and its relatives

AuBuchon-Elder and Coneva et al. reveal an important function for apparently non-functional floral structures. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.20.004242 By Taylor AuBuchon-Elder1,*, Viktoriya Coneva1,2*, Doug K. Allen1,3†, and Elizabeth A. Kellogg1† 1Donald Danforth Plant Science…

The photobiology paradox resolved: photoreceptors drive photosynthesis and vice-versa

Charlotte Gommers, Assistant Features Editor charlotte.gommers@wur.nl For a long time, the study of light fueled two independent fields of plant sciences. On the one hand, light energy is absorbed in the chloroplasts, to drive sugar production via photosynthesis. On the other hand, light is an…

Small subunits can determine enzyme kinetics of tobacco Rubisco expressed in Escherichia coli (Nature Plants)

Rubisco is the enzyme responsible for the fixation of CO2 to ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) during photosynthetic reactions. However, this enzyme has some functional issues, such as a slow catalytic turnover rate and sensitivity to temperature and CO2, and it catalyzes a competing oxygenation process…

State Transition Regulation in Chlamydomonas

Ananya Mukherjee University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588 ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1802-1806 amukherjee3@unl.edu Photosynthetic organisms often face fluctuations in light quality and quantity. Green plants and algae have built-in mechanisms that allow them to adapt to such changes. One…

Mini foxtail millet as a new C4 model species (Nat. Plants) ($)

The three most widely adopted plant models all use C3 photosynthesis, but discoveries made in these plants are not always applicable to C­4 plants. Foxtail millet (Setaria italica) has been emerging as a potential C4 model species, but its use for genomics research is challenging due to long generation…

Back to where it came from: chloroplast expression of both Rubisco subunits helps functional enzyme analysis

Rubisco catalyzes the key carboxylation step in photosynthetic CO2 fixation and is probably the most abundant protein on Earth. The enzyme is famous for inefficient catalysis and the habit of binding oxygen instead of CO2 in one out of every four binding events, leading to photorespiration reactions…