Scientists ‘unlock’ photosynthesis to help meet growing food demand

LONDON: Scientists have solved the structure of one of the key components of photosynthesis, an advance that could lead to the process being ‘redesigned’ to achieve higher yields, and meet urgent food security needs.

Scientists ‘unlock’ photosynthesis to help meet growing food demand

Study reveals the structure of cytochrome b6f—the protein complex that significantly influences plant growth via photosynthesis.

amansharma@tribunemail.com

London, November 14 

Scientists have solved the structure of one of the key components of photosynthesis, an advance that could lead to the process being ‘redesigned’ to achieve higher yields, and meet urgent food security needs.

The study, published on Thursday in the journal Nature, reveals the structure of cytochrome b6f—the protein complex that significantly influences plant growth via photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is the foundation of life on the Earth providing the food, oxygen and energy that sustains the biosphere and human civilisation, the researchers said.

Using a high-resolution structural model, the team led by University of Sheffield in the UK found that the protein complex provides the electrical connection between the two light-powered chlorophyll-proteins (Photosystems I and II) found in the plant cell chloroplast that convert sunlight into chemical energy.

“Our study provides important new insights into how cytochrome b6f utilises the electrical current passing through it to power up a proton battery,” said Lorna Malone, the first author of the study, and a PhD student at the University of Sheffield.

“This stored energy can then be used to make ATP, the energy currency of living cells. Ultimately this reaction provides the energy that plants need to turn carbon dioxide into the carbohydrates and biomass that sustain the global food chain,” Malone said.

The high-resolution structural model, determined using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, reveals new details of the additional role of cytochrome b6f as a sensor to tune photosynthetic efficiency in response to ever-changing environmental conditions.

This response mechanism protects the plant from damage during exposure to harsh conditions such as drought or excess light, the researchers said.

“Cytochrome b6f is the beating heart of photosynthesis which plays a crucial role in regulating photosynthetic efficiency,” said Matt Johnson, reader in Biochemistry at the University of Sheffield, and one of the supervisors of the study.

“Previous studies have shown that by manipulating the levels of this complex we can grow bigger and better plants.

“With the new insights we have obtained from our structure we can hope to rationally redesign photosynthesis in crop plants to achieve the higher yields we urgently need to sustain a projected global population of 9-10 billion by 2050,” Johnson said. — PTI

Top Stories

Now, get property registered sans NOC

Now, get property registered sans NOC

Decision taken to check falling stamp duty revenue, end hara...

No takers for Masters in Punjabi

No takers for Masters in Punjabi

Jalandhar colleges offer fee waiver to students to pursue co...

SC junks Ayodhya review petitions

SC junks Ayodhya review petitions

Says no merit found in all 18 pleas

Centre rules out law in J&K on lines of Art 371

Centre rules out law in J&K on lines of Art 371

Up to next Assembly to legislate on protecting land, propert...

Cities

View All

Despite NGT orders, MC fails to start garbage remediation

It was also told to develop a green belt, build a wall aroun...

Farmers get soil health cards

Scheme aimed at ensuring judicious use of fertilisers

Chief Engineer finds fault with Corbusier

Says Capitol Complex ‘nude’ building, terms it blunder

Feel unsafe returning from library at night, say PU girls

No e-rickshaws, hostellers have to book cab or go in groups

Two jailed for injuring student

Court imposes Rs 1K fine, acquits them of murder bid charges

Investigations to continue despite victim’s retraction

IG told to verify fairness of probe by P’kula police

NSUI members clash with cops during protest

Rally organised against education policy; DTC bus vandalise...

Rains, thunderstorm in Delhi

Temperature is likely to drop after Saturday