Click here for more information about Algenuity
Click here for more information about LiqofluxPhenometrics Buy 3 Get 1 Free
Visit cricatalyst.com!Evodos Separation Technology

Research

A new type of photosynthesis is discovered

June 20, 2018
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Colony of Chroococcidiopsis-like cells where the different colors represent photosynthesis driven by chlorophyll-a (magenta) and chlorophyll-f (yellow). Credit: Dennis Nuernberg

Hayley Dunning writes from the Imperial College of London that a new discovery has changed our understanding of the basic mechanism of photosynthesis and should rewrite the textbooks. It will also tailor the way we hunt for alien life and provide insights into how we could engineer more efficient crops that take advantage of longer wavelengths of light.

The vast majority of life on Earth uses visible red light in the process of photosynthesis, but the new type, published in the current Science, uses near-infrared light instead. It was detected in a wide range of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) when they grow in near-infrared light, found in shaded conditions like bacterial mats in Yellowstone and in beach rock in Australia.

The standard, near-universal type of photosynthesis uses the green pigment, chlorophyll-a, both to collect light and use its energy to make useful biochemicals and oxygen. The way chlorophyll-a absorbs light means only the energy from red light can be used for photosynthesis.

Since chlorophyll-a is present in all plants, algae and cyanobacteria that we know of, it was considered that the energy of red light set the “red limit” for photosynthesis; that is, the minimum amount of energy needed to do the demanding chemistry that produces oxygen. The red limit is used in astrobiology to judge whether complex life could have evolved on planets in other solar systems.

However, when some cyanobacteria are grown under near-infrared light, the standard chlorophyll-a-containing systems shut down and different systems containing a different kind of chlorophyll, chlorophyll-f, take over.

Cross-section of beach rock (Heron Island, Australia) showing chlorophyll-f containing cyanobacteria (green band) growing deep into the rock, several millimeters below the surface. Credit: Dennis Nuernberg

Until now, it was thought that chlorophyll-f just harvested the light. The new research shows that, instead, chlorophyll-f plays the key role in photosynthesis under shaded conditions, using lower-energy infrared light to do the complex chemistry. This is photosynthesis “beyond the red limit.”

Lead researcher Professor Bill Rutherford, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said, “The new form of photosynthesis made us rethink what we thought was possible. It also changes how we understand the key events at the heart of standard photosynthesis. This is textbook changing stuff.”

Another cyanobacterium, Acaryochloris, is already known to do photosynthesis beyond the red limit. However, because it occurs in just this one species, with a very specific habitat, it had been considered a “one-off.” Acaryochloris lives underneath a green sea-squirt that shades out most of the visible light leaving just the near-infrared.

The chlorophyll-f-based photosynthesis just reported represents a third type of photosynthesis that is widespread. However, it is only used in special infrared-rich shaded conditions; in normal light conditions, the standard red form of photosynthesis is used.

It was thought that light damage would be more severe beyond the red limit, but the new study shows that it is not a problem in stable, shaded environments.

“Finding a type of photosynthesis that works beyond the red limit changes our understanding of the energy requirements of photosynthesis,” said co-author Dr. Andrea Fantuzzi, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial. “This provides insights into light energy use and into mechanisms that protect the systems against damage by light.”

These insights could be useful for researchers trying to engineer crops to perform more efficient photosynthesis by using a wider range of light. How these cyanobacteria protect themselves from damage caused by variations in the brightness of light could help researchers discover what is feasible to engineer into crop plants.

The discovery was initiated by Dr. Dennis Nürnberg at Imperial College London, and supported by the BBSRC, and involved groups from the ANU in Canberra, the CNRS in Paris and Saclay and the CNR in Milan.

Read More

More Like This…

Copyright ©2010-2019 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

twittertopbarlinks_eventstopbarlinks_requesttopbarlinks_archives

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Global EcoPower (GEP), of Aix-en-Provence, France, has signed a 5-year partnership contract with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). This ...
Sophie Kevany writes in Decanter.com that a group of vineyards in France’s Bordeaux and Cognac regions are exploring whether algae can be used to prevent the fungal infec...
Mazda U.K. has announced that they are currently involved in joint research projects and studies as part of an ongoing industry-academia-government collaboration to promo...
The problem of access to safe drinking water in most parts of Bangladesh is a persistent challenge. Now, a team of scientists from Uppsala University, Sweden, and Dhaka U...
Cody Nelson writes for MPRNews.org that a team of University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers wanted to know how shortening winters — and less ice cover on lakes — might i...
At the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Science Nordic.com reports, researchers are investigating bioluminescent algae, to determine whether bioluminescent organism...
The Swiss Algae Consortium Association (SWALG) was founded in May 2018 as a non-profit organization that serves as a platform for algae-related activities in Switzerland ...
Julianna Photopoulos writes in Horizon EU Research and Innovation magazine that UK start-up Skipping Rocks Lab aims to use natural materials extracted from plants and sea...
Cyanotech Corporation, a Kailua Kona, Hawaii-based leader in high-value nutrition and health products made from algae, has announced financial results for the first quart...
Judith Lewis Mernit writes in e360.yale.edu that an experiment being conducted by animal science professor Ermias Kebreab at the University of California, Davis, is testi...
How did plants make the evolutionary jump from water to land? Scientists think that green algae are their water-living ancestors, but we are not sure how the transition t...
Baillargues, France’s Microphyt, a leading company in microalgae-based natural solutions for nutrition and well-being, has announced a fundraising of €28.5 million (US$32...