Tapping into plants is the key to combat climate change, says scientist

Jun 01, 2011

Understanding the way plants use and store light to produce energy could be the key ingredient in the fight against climate change, a scientist at Queen Mary, University of London says.

Professor Alexander Ruban from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences has been studying the mechanisms behind photosynthesis, a process where use sunlight and to produce food and release oxygen, for 30 years.

In a recent article published in Energy and , he analyses the complex mechanism by which higher plants* absorb and store sunlight, the antenna of photosystem II.

"The photosynthetic antenna absorbs the sunlight used in the process of photosynthesis. It is an incredibly efficient mechanism, enabling not only the absorption and storage of sunlight, but also acting as a protective shield to ensure the plant absorbs just the right amount needed," he explains.

"If we can somehow harness the capabilities of this magnificent mechanism and adapt these findings for the benefit of solar energy, our fight against could become a whole lot easier."

Professor Ruban, along with colleagues Dr Matthew Johnson and Dr Christopher, took a closer look at the mechanics behind the scenes which enable plants to absorb sunlight.

"Plants have a remarkable ability to adapt to environmental changes around them. The antenna structure in vascular plants* are able to act as a regulator – they are extremely intelligent," Professor Ruban said.

"The carotinoids, which are a group of pigments within the antenna structure, enable the antenna to regulate its absorption and shield capabilities. If we can channel this regulation and intelligence into the production of , then the future of the earth could be a whole lot brighter."

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More information: 'Natural light harvesting: principles and environmental trends' is published in Energy and Environmental Science. DOI:10.1039/c0ee00578a

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Arkaleus
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
I believe venerable old Johnathan Swift holds the patent on storing sunbeams in cucumbers. That system was developed in Laputa Laboratories in like 1750 or something.

The question is, how do you regulate the sunbeam output once you've liberated them from their cucumber goodness?

Another excellent advance in the climate war. I hope these high-capacity cucumbers are deliverable by unicorns just like the sky-patch glue they made last year to fix the parts that have been falling on West London.
omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
plants use sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce food and release oxygen, . . .


And moderate any "CO2-Induced Global Warming" [1].

Cyclic changes in Earth's heat source - the Sun - still cause changes in Earth's climate [2,3].

Why?

Solar wobble shifts the dense, energetic neutron star inside the Sun's diffuse, globe of waste products - the photosphere [4].

1. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", Energy & Environment 20, 131-144 (2009)

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

2. "Did Quiet Sun Cause Little Ice Age After All?" Science (May 26, 2011)

news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/05/did-quiet-sun-cause-little-ice-a.html?ref=hp

3. Science: Solar Wobble/Global Cooling (31 May 2011)

www.suite101.com/...Nx6K4CXS

4."Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press, 19 pages (2011)

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo