Navigation Links
Scientists uncover a novel mechanism that regulates carbon dioxide fixation in plants

A team of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded scientists at the University of Essex has discovered a new mechanism that slows the process of carbon dioxide fixation in plants.

The research, published today (4 March 2008) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, increases our understanding of this process, which may ultimately lead to crop improvement and fourth generation biofuels. The mechanism, which helps to regulate the way in which plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and turn it into sugars, acts by putting the brakes on sugar production when there is not enough energy from sunlight available. As sunlight increases, the brakes are rapidly released and carbon dioxide fixation speeds away.

Plants are dependent on sunlight to capture carbon dioxide, which is turned into important sugars via a process called the Calvin cycle. As a result, as the amount of sunlight varies during the day (e.g. through cloud cover or shading from other plants), they must also be able to vary the speed at which they capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This ensures that when there is a lot of sunlight, it is taken full advantage of but that when sunlight drops, so does CO2 uptake. This ability to maximise energy use is important for plants and prevents the loss of important metabolic resources. Because they essentially stay in one place, plants must have many unique abilities to adapt to their environment as it changes around them.

The question is how does this variable speed control actually work" The BBSRC-funded research shows for the first time how the Calvin cycle can be regulated in response to a changing light environment via a molecular mechanism. There is a special relationship between two enzymes that are involved in the Calvin cycle phosphoribulokinase (PRK) and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH). When light levels decrease, the two enzymes tend to stick together and therefore cannot function, thus slowing the Calvin cycle. The darker it is, the more PRK-GAPDH partnerships are formed and the slower the Calvin cycle becomes. In the light, they break apart rapidly and the Calvin cycle is allowed to speed up.

This fundamental research has revealed a novel mechanism and provides a better understanding of the regulation of CO2 fixation in plants. This work will underpin strategies to increase the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by plants thereby increasing yield for food and biofuel production, and may ultimately feed into the development of fourth generation biofuels.

Research Leader, Professor Christine Raines of the University of Essex, said: Although this research focuses on the fundamental biological processes that plants use, ultimately, if we can understand these processes, we can use the knowledge to develop and improve food and biofuel crops.

Dr Tom Howard, who contributed to the research, said: Plants have evolved a fascinating way to cope with variations in their local environments. Unlike animals, they cannot move on to look for new food sources. This research helps to unlock one way that plants deal with the ultimate variable the amount of sunshine they receive.

Professor Nigel Brown, BBSRC Director of Science and Technology said: With a growing world population and increasing demands for energy we need to consider new ways to improve food and fuel production. Sophisticated basic research in areas which have been studied for many decades, such as this work funded by BBSRC, furthers our understanding of natural processes that have the potential to be harnessed to meet future challenges.


Contact: Nancy Mendoza
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Related biology news :

1. Bright lights: Mystery of glowing antibody solved by Scripps research scientists
2. Scientists discover how cigarette smoke causes cancer: Study points to new treatments, safer tobacco
3. Exeter scientists pour cold water on EU bird policy
4. Yale scientists create artificial cells that boost the immune response to cancer
5. Scientists unravel the genetic coding of the pea
6. Scientists discover giant fossil frog from hell
7. Advertisers, neuroscientists trace source of emotions in brain
8. Amazon corridors far too narrow, warn scientists
9. Dung happens and helps scientists
10. Priming scientists for successful media interviews
11. Scientists expand understanding of how river carbon impacts the Arctic Ocean
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/26/2015)... , October 26, 2015 ... --> adds Biometrics Market ... 2021 as well as Emerging Biometrics ... reports to its collection of IT ... . --> ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 26, 2015  Delta ID ... biometric authentication to mobile and PC devices, announced its ... smartphone, the arrows NX F-02H launched by NTT DOCOMO, ... NX F-02H is the second smartphone to include iris ... technology in ARROWS NX F-04G in May 2015, world,s ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... GOLETA, California , October 23, 2015 ... and SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) announce a mobile plug and ... captured during interactive real-world tasks SensoMotoric Instruments ... of their established wearable solutions for eye tracking and ... behavior captured with SMI Eye Tracking Glasses 2w ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced ... in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Financial Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th ... NY on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or 1,100,000 ... (the "Series B Warrants") subject to the previously ... November 23, 2015, which will result in the ... effect to the issuance of such shares, there ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading ... culture models, has promoted Melanie Aregger to serve as Chief Operating Officer. ... on the management team and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. ... the discovery, development and commercialization of first-in-class therapeutics, today ... Officer, is scheduled to present at the 2015 Piper ... a.m. EST, at The Lotte New York Palace Hotel ... . --> . ...
Breaking Biology Technology: