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…

Plants increase CO2 uptake by assimilating nitrogen via the photorespiratory pathway

During photosynthesis Rubisco fixes CO2 by carboxylating its substrate RuBP, leading to the de novo production of carbohydrates.  Photorespiration has long been considered a wasteful process, initiated by Rubisco-mediated oxygenation of RuBP and resulting in the loss of carbon, nitrogen and energy. …

Engineering Increased Stomatal Density in Rice

The coordinated differentiation of cell types during the metamorphosis of an organ is crucial for ensuring that the final form of the organ is appropriate for itsfunction.  A case in point is the photosynthetic function of plant leaves that requires chloroplast-containing cells in the middle leaf layers…

Do Lipid Droplets Exist in the Chloroplast Stroma?

Understanding the metabolic pathways underlying oil production and the precise intracellular localization of lipid droplets is crucial for successfully engineering microalgae for biofuel production. The microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii accumulates considerable amounts of starch and triacylglycerol…

Increasing leaf vein density in rice results in an enhanced rate of photosynthesis

Increased leaf vein density is considered to be a key early step in the evolution of C4 photosynthesis.  Feldman et al. analyzed five mutants with high vein densities in the C3 crop rice to determine if photosynthetic assimilation was improved.  The mutants all had higher photosynthetic rates under…

Update: Impacts of fluctuating light on crop performance

Light intensity varies seasonally, with time of day, with cloudiness, and as overlying leaves move in the wind.  A sudden change in light intensity alters photosynthetic responses, but not all responses change at the same rate. For example, upon an increase in light intensity, photosynthetic electron…

Update: The impacts of fluctuating light on crop performance

By Rebecca A Slattery, Berkley J Walker, Andreas P.M. Weber, Donald R. Ort Abstract Rapidly changing light conditions can reduce carbon gain and productivity in field crops because photosynthetic responses to light fluctuations are not instantaneous. Plant responses to fluctuating light occur across…

A MicroRNA Affecting Grain Yield in Rice

MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of abundant small noncoding RNAs, have been identified as important regulators of gene expression in plants, affecting many aspects of plant development. Recently, several miRNAs have been reported to regulate rice grain yield. A previous study revealed that miR397 regulates…

Blue Light Perception via Chlorochrome? — Give Us the Greens of Summer

What do photosynthesis, neonatal jaundice, and a next-generation solar cell have in common? All involve tetrapyrroles, complex molecules with four linked pyrrole rings, each ring containing one nitrogen and four carbon atoms. Tetrapyrroles exist in either cyclic or linear form and have a wide variety…

SHORTROOT-mediated increase in stomatal density has no impact on photosynthetic efficiency

SHORTROOT (SRT) is a transcription factor that contributes to developmental patterning non-cell autonomously, by moving between cells. In leaves, SRT has been shown to contribute to sub-epidermal patterning specified by distance from the vein. Schuler et al. explored whether it also contributes to epidermal…