Navigation Links
Plants reveal a secret and bring researchers nearer a cleaner future

Using sunlight to power our homes and offices is an unaccomplished dream due to the still inefficient technology for a better use of solar energy. The study of photosynthesis in plants could provide new clues by explaining how they absorb almost 100% of the sun-light reaching them, and how they transform it into other forms of energy.

Researchers Michael Haumann and Holger Dau, from the Freie Universität Berlin, used the X-ray source of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) to investigate the kinetics of the photosynthesis process. They have confirmed the existence of a fifth step in the catalysis process of water into oxygen, and have published their results in Science.

Chlorophyll in plants absorbs light from the sun, which then becomes energy used by the so-called "oxygen-evolving complex" to catalyse the splitting of water into molecular oxygen. This complex contains four manganese and one calcium atoms that are known to be at the centre of the catalytic reaction. Five intermediate states have been proposed in the process of photosynthesis - a cycle known as "Kok cycle"- but only four had been proved until recently. With the help of the ESRF, scientists have been able to identify the missing state, which is particularly important because it is directly involved in the molecular oxygen formation. They suggest, furthermore, an extension of the "Kok cycle" with an additional intermediate and propose a new reaction mechanism on a molecular basis for the release of dioxygen. This gives new insight into the mechanism of photosynthesis.

In order to study this process, the use of synchrotron light was crucial: "A very intense and stable X-ray beam is necessary to perform this study on such a complex, highly diluted protein present in the investigated spinach sample", explains Pieter Glatzel, head of beamline ID26, where the experiments were carried out. The researchers measured the fluorescence from the sample that is emitted after excitation with X-rays.

They flashed the sample with a laser and registered the change using X-ray fluorescence every 10 microseconds to find out how different oxidation states developed. When carefully analysing the reaction kinetics, they observed a time delay before the O2-evolving step. This delay unambiguously proved the existence of the long-searched for intermediate state.

How far away are we then from using the sun to power our daily lives? Michael Haumann, the main author of the publication, asserts that "these are important results that will make an impact in the photosynthesis community. They help our understanding of how solar energy is used in plants and contribute to the efforts to produce more efficient solar cells for our needs".


Source:European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

Related biology news :

1. Quantum Dots Research Leads to New Knowledge about Protein Binding in Plants
2. Plants, animals share molecular growth mechanisms
3. Plants respond similarly to signals from friends, enemies
4. Plants defy Mendels inheritance laws, may prompt textbook changes
5. Study: Plants use dual defense system to fight pathogens
6. Plants discriminate between self and non self
7. Prozac for future Plants on Mars
8. Plants have a double line of defence
9. Plants, too, have ways to manage freeloaders
10. Plants give pests sock in the gut
11. Plants used to detect gas leaks, from outer space!
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... the addition of the "Global Law ... their offering. --> ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) has ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter ... titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options ... of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology ... --> --> ... has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... YORK , Oct. 29, 2015 ... technology, announced a partnership with 2XU, a global ... to deliver a smart hat with advanced bio-sensing ... and other athletes to monitor key biometrics to ... the strategic partnership, the two companies will bring together ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy ... Special Interest Group (SIG), MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the ... last few years. Many AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a recent market research report released by ... is projected to expand at a CAGR of 17.5% ... titled "Non-invasive Prenatal Testing Market - Global Industry Analysis, ... 2022", estimates the global non-invasive prenatal testing market to ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... "Company") announced today that the remaining 11,000 post-share ... Share Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject ... were exercised on November 23, 2015, which will ... Shares.  After giving effect to the issuance of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... In harsh industrial processes, ... for in-line sensors can represent a weak spot where leaking process media is ... retractable sensor housings , which are designed to tolerate extreme process conditions. They ...
Breaking Biology Technology: