Menu
Biology articles
The Golden Goose Is Awarded
Salmonella Strain Spreads Alongside HIV
Fair Flu Viruses Closely Matched
Creative Emulsification
Inflammation for Regeneration
Editor's choice in microbiology
Debate Over Stem Cell Effectiveness
Editor's choice in molecular biology
Telomeres Affect Gene Expression
Re-sensitizing Resistant Bacteria
Vitamin C Slays TB Bacteria
Plant scientists, innovators
The First Plant Interactome
Plant RNAs Found in Mammals
Opinion: Beyond the Model
Sweet and Sour Science
Plant RNA Paper Questioned
Flower Barcodes
Microbial Perfume
How Plants Feel
New Databases Harvest a Rich Bounty of Information on Crop Plant Metabolism
Carnegie Institution for Science Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant
Genetically engineered trees could help restore devastated American chestnut
Evolution coup: study reveals how plants protect their genes
  “Safety Valve” Protects Photosynthesis from Too Much Light
Photosynthetic organisms need to cope with a wide range of light intensities, which can change over timescales of seconds to minutes. Too much light can damage the photosynthetic machinery and cause cell death. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution were part of a team that found that specific proteins in algae can act as a safety valve to dissipate excess absorbed light energy before it can wreak havoc in cells.

The research, performed mostly by Graham Peers in the laboratory of Krishna Niyogi from the University of California, Berkeley, included researchers at the University of Münster, Germany, and used a mutant strain of the single-celled green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, originally isolated at the Carnegie Institution, to show that a specific protein of the light harvesting family of proteins plays a critical role in eliminating excess absorbed light energy. A mutant lacking this protein, designated LHCSR, suffered severely when exposed to fluctuating light conditions. “Photosynthetic organisms must be able to manage absorbed light energy,” says study co-author Arthur Grossman of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, “and the LHCSR proteins appear to be critical for algae to eliminate absorbed light energy as heat as light levels in the environment fluctuate, becoming potentially toxic.”

Grossman points out that photosynthetic organisms have developed a number of different mechanisms for managing the absorption of light energy and that these different mechanisms may be tailored to the diversity of environments in which organisms have evolved. Some have evolved in deserts where both light levels and temperatures can be very high while others have evolved in alpine environments where the light levels can be very high and temperatures very low.

“As we understand more about the ways in which the environment impacts the evolution of the photosynthetic machinery, we may be able to introduce specific mechanisms into plants that allow them to better manage absorbed light energy, which in turn would let them survive harsher environmental conditions” Grossman says, “which would have obvious benefits for agriculture.”

He also notes the current interest in using algae to generate biofuels, and the possibility of cultivating algae in deserts, where solar input can be extremely high. As he states, “If we are going to attempt this we have to make sure that we use the right algae that can thrive and produce oils at high levels under harsh environmental conditions. It’s possible that we can also tailor various features of the photosynthetic machinery to let algae use light energy more efficiently and suffer less damage under extremely high light and temperature conditions, but I would emphasize that there are many extreme challenges associated with the creation of such robust, commercially viable strains.”
medications canada
Plants Put Limit on Ice Ages
Carnegie donates landmark clones to biology
Plants on Steroids: Key Missing Link Discovered
Gene Function Discovery: Guilt by Association
Cracking the Plant-Cell Membrane Code
Private Support Helps Public Plant Research
Scientists Watch Cell-Shape Process for First Time
How plants choose their mates
Mastermind Steroid Found in Plants
Unlocking the secrets of a plant’s light sensitivity
Nailing down a crucial plant signaling system
What makes a plant a plant?
New component of a plant steroid-activated pathway discovered
Big Boost to Plant Research
The Heart of the Plant
New tool offers unprecedented access for root studies
Steroids control gas exchange in plants
Plant toughness: Key to cracking biofuels?
Amoeba may offer key clue to photosynthetic evolution
The future of plant science – a technology perspective
Plant research funding crucial for the future
Wolf B. Frommer Receives Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology
Lighting up the plant hormone “command system”
Plant organ development breakthrough
Breakthrough: How salt stops plant growth
New Cancer Diagnostic Technique Debuts
Plant Science Could Ease Global Food and Fuel Demands
Have you had your cereal today?
Menu
Researchers close in on engineering recognizable, drug-free Cannabis plant
UC Riverside Researchers Develop Genetic Map for Cowpea
New research shows how mobile DNA survives—and thrives—in plants, animals
Cucumber Genome Published
Structural study at EMBL reveals how plants respond to water shortages
“Safety Valve” Protects Photosynthesis from Too Much Light
Weeds Could Help To Feed The World
Antagonistic Genes Control Rice Growth
Making New Enzymes to Engineer Plants for Biofuel Production
Green Plant Transport Mystery Solved
Gene Discovery To Increase Biomass Needed For Green Fuel
Are genes our destiny?
New African cassava resists devastating viruses
Species richness and genetic diversity do not go hand in hand in alpine plants
Scientists discover how cancer may take hold
Green algae—the nexus of plant/animal ancestry
New Twist on Life’s Power Source
Controlling a sea of information
Plant Steroids Offer New Paradigm for How Hormones Work
Future of biology rests in harnessing data avalanche
Carnegie’s Arthur Grossman Receives Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal
Plant Scientists Participate in DOE Energy Frontier Research Center
Advance in understanding cellulose synthesis
Midget Plant Gets Makeover