A Synthetic Biology Approach to Improve Photosynthesis
News May 16, 2014
Plants, algae and bacteria capture light energy from the sun and transform it into chemical energy by the process named photosynthesis. To ensure food security in the future, yields of crops must continually be increased to keep pace with the world population.
Improving the photosynthetic rate is one strategy to improve plant productivity. Rothamsted Research scientists strategically funded by the BBSRC and in collaboration with colleagues at Cornell University funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation have used synthetic biology approaches to demonstrate for the first time that micro-compartments made up of proteins originating in bacteria can be assembled in the chloroplasts of flowering plants.
These findings represent important progress toward the goal of making plants more efficient at fixing carbon dioxide from the air into molecules that can be used by the plant for growth. The study has been published in The Plant Journal.
Dr Alessandro Occhialini, Rothamsted Research scientist applied sophisticated microscope techniques to observe the assembly of the compartment in plant chloroplasts. "I was thrilled to see small round or oval bodies in chloroplasts several days after I infiltrated bacterial genes into the leaves."
In order to engineer the bacterial genes to work properly in plants, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Myat Lin at Cornell used recombinant DNA methods to connect the bacterial DNA to plant DNA sequences so that several bacterial proteins could be produced simultaneously in chloroplasts and spontaneously assemble into small compartments.
Dr. Lin commented, "Being a part of a project with such a big goal to improve photosynthesis has been tremendously rewarding. While more work is ahead, we certainly have a very promising start."
Professor Maureen Hanson, lead scientist at Cornell University said: "We are delighted with the encouraging results from our collaboration with the Rothamsted Research group, whose expertise in photosynthesis and electron microscopy complements our capabilities in genetic engineering."
Professor Martin Parry, lead scientist at Rothamsted Research, said: "We are truly excited about the findings of this study. Improving photosynthetic rate in crop plants has been scientifically challenging and the developments in the areas of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering enable us to make significant progress. It is important that we explore all available tools to us in order to ensure food and fuel security in the future".
"Genetic Jenga" Helps Understand How Our Genes Control Our CellsNews
To fully understand how our cells work, we can't focus on just one gene, but must instead look at combinations of genes. Researchers have published a study which knocked out multiple genes, like removing bricks from a Jenga tower, to better understand how they work together.READ MORE
Southeast Asian Nomads Have Evolved to Hunt Fish UnderwaterNews
The human spleen can release oxygenated blood cells to allow more time underwater without breathing. A new study has identified that the "Sea Nomad" Bajau people of Indonesia have evolved larger spleens that would allow them to remain underwater for longer.READ MORE
Comments | 0 ADD COMMENT
International Conference on Epigenetics and Epitranscriptomics
Sep 17 - Sep 18, 2018