Scientists resurrect ancient enzymes to improve photosynthesis.

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Ah, the subject of photosynthesis! I did my masters work in a fundamental science laboratory measuring photosynthetic capacity and regulation, with special interest in cyclic electron transport pathways and photosynthetic quenching. The issue we find with a Rubisco that is better at binding CO2 is that it usually gets EVEN better at binding O2. The resulting in accidental binding of O2 over CO2 has disasterous effects on the whole system especially since accidental binding of O2 is already problematic in current Rubisco. Usually when we see this situation start (higher O2 environments artificially induced) and then measuring photosynthetic rate, we see the NADPH concentration increase leading to a back up in PSI which then leads to photo damage in PSI. Weirdly, increasing the CO2 that is atmospherically available doesn’t make the plant grow faster and also seems to indirectly cause photosystem damage as well. Most likely this is due changes in the pH on the outside of the thylakoid membrane with more dissolved CO2 available. When we used a neutron beam to measure thylakoid thickness/swelling when the leaf was exposed to light we noticed a casual correlation to the plasticity of the thylakoid membrane when exposed to different concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Though, we don’t know if the uptick in CO2 had an impact on how the plant interacted with deuterated H2O… But playing with a nuclear reactor for those experiments was really cool. The issue in plants is not the ability to bind up and make CO2 ready to be used, but by the fragility of the photosynthetic complexes when you try to introduce changes into the system. Hell, at this moment in time 90%+ of all photons that hit PSII PSI complexes are either reemitted as light or quenched. This work is akin to putting racing slicks on your car but leaving a highly detuned motor under the bonnet. But if you try to tune that motor up really at all, you will probably damage it or blow it apart when driving it in normal traffic. Bioenergetics is awesome and the uniqueness of this study is awesome. Trying to understand previous versions of the enzyme is definitely cool too!


Oh no…there goes Tokyo.


regenerative farming would fix this issue & climate change. just sayin…


20 to 30 million years old? Those young whipper snappers! My GMP reductase is over a billion years old, and yours is too.


The Literature person here is erstwhile twiddling her thumbs and mouthing ‘help me’.