Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Elusive intermediary: Newly discovered protein may help improve crop yields, solar cells

Date:
October 8, 2010
Source:
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Summary:
Plants use specialized protein complexes to collect the light that drives photosynthesis. Researchers in Germany have now identified a protein that is necessary for the assembly of one such complex. The discovery could lead to improved crop yields and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells.

Plants use specialized protein complexes to collect the light that drives photosynthesis. Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich have now identified a protein that is necessary for the assembly of one such complex. The discovery could lead to improved crop yields and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells.

Related Articles


Photosynthesis is the process used by plants to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into the energy-rich chemicals upon which all life-forms depend. The energy trapped in these compounds comes from sunlight, and photosynthetic organisms -- plants, algae and certain types of bacteria -- capture this energy in a usable form with the help of protein complexes called photosystems. Photosystems include antenna proteins that collect incident light, and green plants have two sorts of photosystems, which respond best to light of different wavelengths.

A team of researchers at LMU, led by Professor Dario Leister, has now identified a protein named PAM68 that is essential for the assembly of Photosystem II in green plants. The protein is also found in photosynthetic cyanobacteria, but there it serves a different function. "It turns out that PAM68 itself does not form part of the functional photosystem II at all," says Leister. In the longer term, the new finding may make it possible to improve the yields of important crops and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells.

The research is published online in the journal Plant Cell.

Photosynthesis can be thought of as the central pillar of the biosphere, because this set of biochemical reactions provides the oxygen and energy-rich foodstuffs upon which other organisms, including humans, subsist. The energy for the process comes from sunlight, and is captured by molecules that act as solar collectors in photosynthetic organisms, such as plants, algae and cyanobacteria. "All of these organisms possess two different photosystems, each of which responds most efficiently to light of a particular wavelength," says Professor Dario Leister of the Department of Biology I at LMU Munich.

The photosystems consist of light-absorbing chlorophyll pigments and a variety of proteins. "Assembly of these multiprotein complexes takes place in several steps and requires the participation of specific accessory proteins," explains Leister. In their latest study, he and his team set out to identify assembly factors necessary for correct formation of photosystem II in the model plant thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) and in the cyanobacterial species Synechocystis. They showed that a previously unknown protein, which they called PAM68, interacts with several of the components of photosystem II and is required to put the functional complex together.

"PAM68 is found in both the plant and the cyanobacterium," Leister points out, "but it has quite different functions in the two organisms." In both cases, the newly discovered assembly factor is essential for the first steps in the construction of Photosystem II. In thale cress mutants that lack PAM68, however, these early intermediates accumulate. Inactivation of the cyanobacterial protein, on the other hand, actually facilitates the assembly of larger complexes. Strikingly, although it is required in the building of Photosystem II, PAM68 is not a member of the fully assembled, functional complex. "This is one case where the whole is less than the sum of the parts," says Leister.

The new work has uncovered common features of plant and bacterial photosynthesis, but also points to distinct differences between the two. "In the long term, a comprehensive understanding of the function of Photosystems I and II should enable us to utilize solar energy more efficiently," says Leister. It could, for instance, contribute to the development of artificial systems that mimic photosynthesis, perhaps leading to new types of solar cell. The new results will also be of interest to agronomists, as they suggest that it should be possible to produce more robust strains of crop plants that can cope with higher levels of light stress and produce better yields. At all events, Leister and his team will continue their quest for the new factors involved in photosystem assembly. (CA/suwe)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. U. Armbruster, J. Zuhlke, B. Rengstl, R. Kreller, E. Makarenko, T. Ruhle, D. Schunemann, P. Jahns, B. Weisshaar, J. Nickelsen, D. Leister. The Arabidopsis Thylakoid Protein PAM68 Is Required for Efficient D1 Biogenesis and Photosystem II Assembly. Plant Cell, 2010; DOI: 10.1105/tpc.110.077453

Cite This Page:

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. "Elusive intermediary: Newly discovered protein may help improve crop yields, solar cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007103658.htm>.
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. (2010, October 8). Elusive intermediary: Newly discovered protein may help improve crop yields, solar cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007103658.htm
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. "Elusive intermediary: Newly discovered protein may help improve crop yields, solar cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007103658.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) — The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) — A newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise, protecting against diabetes and weight gain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) — Britain&apos;s Prince William pledges to unite against illegal wildlife trade on the final day of his visit to China. Rough cut - no reporter narration Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins