Biotech Updates

Key Secrets of Photosynthesis Unlocked

July 6, 2012

Chemists at the Baruch '60 Center for Biochemical Solar Energy Research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute led by KV Lakshmi have provided important information on a specific portion of the photosynthetic process called photosystem II. This finding provides new basic research into how plants efficiently convert energy from the sun and could help inform the development of a new, highly robust, and more efficient generation of solar-energy technologies. 

The new research focuses on the first of two photochemical reactions that plants use to convert solar energy into chemical energy that takes place within photosystem II. Specifically, the researchers studied the binding and activation of the substrate water molecules in the catalytic site of photosystem II. Photosystem II is a protein complex in plants and cyanobacteria that use photons of light to split water molecules, also known as the solar oxidation of water. The protons and electrons resulting from this split are then used by the plant to fuel the remaining systems in the photosynthetic process that transforms light into chemical energy.

More details are available in the news release from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute website: