Researchers film protein quake for the first time

Aug 27, 2014 by Anne Hansen

One of nature's mysteries is how plants survive impact by the huge amounts of energy contained in the sun's rays, while using this energy for photosynthesis. The hypothesis is that the light-absorbing proteins in the plant's blades quickly dissipate the energy throughout the entire protein molecule through so-called protein quakes. Researchers at DTU Physics have now managed to successfully 'film' this process.

Both plants, algae and bacteria contain light-absorbing proteins which play a role in and thus how the organisms produce energy. However, it has long been a mystery how the organisms survive the sun's powerful rays while at the same time harvesting solar energy.

The is that the light-absorbing proteins in the plants' blades quickly dissipate the energy throughout the entire protein molecule through quakes. Researchers at DTU Physics have now managed to successfully confirm the hypothesis.

Together with researchers from Stanford University, Tim Brandt van Driel and Kasper Skov Kjær from DTU Physics have investigated the dynamics of a protein from a bacterial photosynthesis when exposed to sunlight[SFK1] . Using a that sends impulses lasting less than a femtosecond, the researchers have successfully filmed the so-called protein quakes which so far have just been a theoretical explanation of how the proteins survive the solar energy bombardment.

During a protein quake, the , evenly and harmlessly distributes the solar energy across the entire protein.

In addition to confirming the hypothesis about the proteins' survival strategy, the experiment is also part of the method development for examining light absorption by photosynthesis proteins and electron transfers, which are again relevant for utilising in, for example, solar cells and other light-absorption systems.

The ground-breaking results were published in the journal Nature Methods on 10 August 2014.

Explore further: Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye

More information: www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/v… full/nmeth.3067.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Uncovering quantum secret in photosynthesis

Jun 20, 2013

The efficient conversion of sunlight into useful energy is one of the challenges which stand in the way of meeting the world's increasing energy demand in a clean, sustainable way without relying on fossil ...

Water and sunlight the formula for sustainable fuel

Aug 21, 2014

An Australian National University (ANU) team has successfully replicated one of the crucial steps in photosynthesis, opening the way for biological systems powered by sunlight which could manufacture hydrogen ...

Recommended for you

Researchers determine key element in circadian clock speed

20 minutes ago

In a discovery that may lead to new treatments for sleep disorders, jet lag and other health problems tied to circadian rhythms, researchers at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine have identified a determinant ...

Growing functioning brain tissue in 3D

1 hour ago

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing ...

Understanding cellular ageing

2 hours ago

Researchers at the BBSRC-supported Babraham Institute have mapped the physical structure of the nuclear landscape in unprecedented detail to understand changes in genomic interactions occurring in cell senescence and ageing. ...

Cellular memory of stressful situations

Jan 28, 2015

Stress is unhealthy. The cells use therefore a variety of mechanisms to deal with stress and avert its immediate threat. However, certain stressful situations leave marks that go beyond the immediate response; ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.