Global Technology - August 2020

Comments Off on Global Technology - August 2020
Global Technology - August 2020 LoadingADD TO FAVORITES

What new technologies will dramatically transform your world?  We’ll present an exclusive preview of the stunning breakthroughs emerging from the world’s leading research labs. 

Plants are factories that manufacture food in the form of sugars from light and carbon dioxide.  Unfortunately, parts of this complex process, called photosynthesis, are hindered by a lack of raw materials and machinery.  To optimize production, scientists from the University of Essex have resolved two major photosynthetic bottlenecks, boosting plant productivity by 27 percent in real-world field conditions.  And that’s not all.  According to the new study published in Nature Plants, this “photosynthetic hack” has also been shown to conserve water.

Like a factory assembly line, a plant’s food-making process is only as fast as its slowest machines.  The researchers identified the key steps that were bottlenecks and then enabled the plants to build more machines to speed up these slower steps in photosynthesis.

Notably, a factory’s productivity decreases when supplies, transportation channels, and reliable machinery are limited.  To find out what limits photosynthesis, the researchers modeled each of the 170 steps of the process to identify how plants could manufacture sugars more efficiently.

In this study, the team increased crop growth by 27 percent by resolving two constraints: one in the first part of photosynthesis where plants transform light energy into chemical energy, and one in the second part where carbon dioxide is fixed into sugars.

Inside two photosystems, sunlight is captured and turned into chemical energy that can be used for other processes in photosynthesis.  A transport protein called plastocyanin moves electrons into the photosystem to fuel this process. But plastocyanin has a high affinity for its acceptor protein in the photosystem so it hangs around, failing to shuttle electrons back and forth efficiently.

The team addressed this first bottleneck by helping plastocyanin share the load with the addition of cytochrome c6 — a more efficient transport protein that has a similar function in algae.  Plastocyanin requires copper and cytochrome requires iron to function. Depending on...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Business Briefings subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $135/year

  • Get 12 months of Business Briefings that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Business Briefings Research Library
  • Optional Business Briefings monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% pro-rata refund