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:11/4/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a new market report published by Transparency ... Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", ... value of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market ... during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its DNA ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ... to enable the preparation of NGS libraries for ... plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in cancer ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Germany , October 27, 2015 ... SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically maps ... SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses , so that they ... BeGaze. --> Munich, Germany , ... (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ANNAPOLIS, Md. , Nov. 25, 2015  PharmAthene, ... of Directors has adopted a stockholder rights plan (Rights ... its net operating loss carryforwards (NOLs) under Section 382 ... --> --> PharmAthene,s use of its ... an "ownership change" as defined in Section 382 of ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... CITY , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna ... affirms that its business and prospects remain fundamentally ... , Zoptrex™ (zoptarelin doxorubicin) recently received DSMB recommendation ... to completion following review of the final interim ... Phase 2 Primary Endpoint in men with heavily ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific ... contract research organisation (CRO) market. The trend of ... in lower margins but higher volume share for ... capacity and scale, however, margins in the CRO ... Organisation (CRO) Market ( ), finds ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Copper is an essential micronutrient that all ... copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million award from the ... a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: