Algal genes may boost efficiency, yield in staple crops

May 19, 2014 by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University
Algal genes may boost efficiency, yield in staple crops
Fluorescent microcompartments (green) in chloroplasts (red). The chloroplasts, the site of photosynthesis, are colored red due to chlorophyll autofluorescence. The microcompartments are labeled with a green fluorescent protein.

( —As humanity faces more mouths to feed thanks to a swelling global population, new research has taken a step toward employing genes from blue-green algae to improve staple crop photosynthesis – a potential improvement that could boost plant efficiency and increase yields.

Scientists at Cornell and the U.K.'s Rothamsted Research report using genes from blue-green algae – called cyanobacteria – to create micro-compartments inside photosynthesizing plant cells, an important breakthrough for improving .

The study was published online May 8 in The Plant Journal.

All plants employ an enzyme called Rubisco to fix during photosynthesis, where plants combine carbon dioxide, water and light to make oxygen and sucrose; the plant uses sucrose for energy and to build new plant tissues.

But Rubisco reacts with both carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air. When it reacts with oxygen, increasingly in warmer temperatures, the rate of photosynthesis decreases and it lowers yields.

Blue-green algae also photosynthesize, but they employ a mechanism to concentrate carbon dioxide in polyhedral micro-compartments around Rubisco, so Rubisco reacts with carbon dioxide and not oxygen, making photosynthesis more efficient.

Until now "nobody had been able to show you can make this micro-compartment in plants," said Myat Lin, the paper's first author and a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Maureen Hanson, a senior co-author of the study and Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Molecular Biology at Cornell.

Lin devised a way to insert the algal genes for making the outer layer – known as the shell – of the micro-compartments into model tobacco , said Hanson.

Now that the researchers have a method to insert these shells into chloroplasts – the organelles in plant cells where photosynthesis occurs – the next steps will be to incorporate Rubisco, other proteins and an enzyme that helps transport carbon dioxide into Rubisco with the micro-compartments.

Explore further: Team models photosynthesis and finds room for improvement

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not rated yet May 19, 2014
This is what Wikipedia says about Chloroplasts: "Chloroplasts, like mitochondria, contain their own DNA, which is thought to be inherited from their ancestor—a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that was engulfed by an early eukaryotic cell. Chloroplasts cannot be made by the plant cell, and must be inherited by each daughter cell during cell division"
Why not add more plants....Eg. Switch Grass
Then, Intermingling of Algal Genes among various Algae too and study the effect!
We can use better Algae, if created for making Biofuel!
It shows that the Bottleneck is Lack of Funds for Research.
Government should Grab All Real Estate & Funds of Religious Organizations & Pump that into Research.
You cannot Bribe gAd with Prayer. gAd is NOT a Merchant!
Helping yourself is What is the Best thing that can be done.
Slowly creeping into Science nowadays. It has to be STOPPED.
not rated yet May 19, 2014
We can try introducing Algal genes into Amoebae etc., and turn them also into Photosynthesizing ones, if possible! Who Knows? We may get Lucky!
Once Successful, next step is to scale up the technology step by step.... say to Earthworms etc and then finally onto Humans by the Next Century/Millennium if it is feasible. After all, All Humans start as a single diploid cell.
Of course, Safety & Feasibility should be Tested First Laboriously in Various Animals first. There are Venomous Snakes, Wild Cats which are not useful to us in any way whatsoever.
Why resort to such extreme step?
Because, It will be nice not needing to eat anything at all....
Just a glass of mineral mix per day...No Visits to Bathrooms either. WoW!
not rated yet May 19, 2014
If All Humans are Green, Nothing to feel shy about Green Color.
not rated yet May 19, 2014
Those that have no inkling on the subject .....Do GOOGLE IMAGE Search for
1) Chloroplasts
2) Cyanobacteria
That will make you Appreciate it all!

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