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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Identify Novel Protein that Protects Photosynthesis from Too Much Light

November 27, 2009

Plants and other photosynthetic organisms need mechanisms that will allow them to cope with a wide range of light intensities. Too much light can damage the photosynthetic machinery and cause cell death. In a paper published this week by Nature, researchers 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. These proteins are different from those used by plants to disperse harmful excess light energy. The protein family, designated LHCSR, was identified in the single cell green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Mutants lacking this protein family suffered severely when exposed to fluctuating light conditions, the scientists found.

"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" says study co-author Arthur Grossman, " and which would have obvious benefits for agriculture."

Read the original story at http://www.ciw.edu/news/safety_valve_protects_photosynthesis_too_much_light The paper published by Nature is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature08587