One hallmark of living cells is their ability to sense and respond to surrounding conditions, explains Thomas Moore. In the case of metabolic control this process involves molecular-level recognition events that are translated into control of a chemical process.
Functionally, this mimics one of the processes in photosynthesis that severely limits the energy conversion efficiency of higher plants, he added. One way in which this work is important is that by understanding these events at the molecular level one can imagine redesigning photosynthesis to improve energy conversion efficiency and thereby come closer to meeting our energy needs.
The research is also important to one aspect of the exploding field of nanotechnology, that of regulation, Gust adds. Biological systems are known for their ability to engage in adaptive self-regulation. The nanoscale components respond to other nanoscale systems and to external stimuli in order to keep everything in balance and functioning properly. The ASU research shows how a bio-regulation system has been captured in a non-biological molecular scale analog process.
Achieving such behavior in human-made devices is vital if we are to realize the promise of nanotechnology, adds Gust. Although the mechanism of control used in the ASU molecule is different from that employed in NPQ, the overall effect is the same as occurs in the natural photosynthetic process.
|Contact: Skip Derra|
Arizona State University