Recent Posts

Alternative CAM and water-saving flux modes into C3 leaf metabolic model (Plant Cell)

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a photosynthetic adaptation pathway in arid environments to minimize water loss by opening the stomata at night, when the temperature and therefore water loss due to transpiration is lower. Carbon dioxide is initially fixed at night and stored in the vacuole. Engineering…

Leaf angle control across the sorghum canopy (Plant Physiol.)

In a rosette-forming plant like Arabidopsis, leaf radial angle is optimized to prevent self-shielding. By contrast, in a plant such as sorghum, leaf vertical angle affects self-shading. A “smart canopy” model has been proposed in which upper leaves have a more upright orientation to allow more light…

Condensation of Rubisco into a proto-pyrenoid in higher plant chloroplasts (bioRxiv)

Rubisco is a major enzyme in assimilating CO2 during photosynthesis. The efficiency of CO2 assimilation is compromised by a low ratio of CO2/O2, especially in C3 plants like rice, wheat and soybean. Algae sequester Rubisco as a condensate in a microcompartment called a pyrenoid within the chloroplast…

How circadian changes in metabolism affect hybrid vigor

Zhi Li, Andan Zhu, et al. compare inbred and hybrid lines to explore how daily changes in metabolic pathways affect hybrid vigor. The Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.20.00320  Background: Heterosis or hybrid vigor refers to the superior growth or fitness in the hybrid progeny compared to one…

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…