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Photosynthesis: The last link in the chain
Date:1/4/2013

ATP and NADPH, both of which are required for synthesis of sugars from CO2. This implies that the allocation of electrons between the photosystems can be regulated. An electron transporter called ferredoxin, which receives electrons directly from PSI, acts as the junction that connects the two. "It was therefore proposed, more than 30 years ago, that a so-called ferredoxin-plastoquinone reductase (FQR) must exist, which ensures that electrons can be re-injected into the electron transport chain, and thus allows for cyclic electron transport," Leister explains, "but despite intensive searches, no such enzyme had been found."

In 2008, Leister's team identified a protein they called PGRL1, and showed that it was able to interact with PSI and with other factors known to participate in cyclic electron transport. In their latest study, they have been able to characterize the precise biochemical function of PGRL1. It turns out that the protein is the long-sought FQR that plays a central role in the regulation of cyclic electron flow. "In the long term, this finding may help us to improve photosynthetic performance by replacing or modifying specific components of the electron transport chain," Leister points out.

Pivotal regulators such as PGRL1 could possibly be tuned in a targeted fashion so as to enhance the efficiency of photosynthesis and thus increase yields in crop plants grown under controlled conditions. Furthermore, a complete understanding of the structure and regulation of the photosystems is a prerequisite for the development of methods that would allow one to optimize the process of photosynthesis for various applications such as raising crop yields, designing new types of solar cells or generating molecular hydrogen for use as an environmentally friendly energy source.


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Contact: Kathrin Bilgeri
kathrin.bilgeri@lmu.de
49-892-180-6938
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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