Nav: Home

Speedier stomata in optogenetically enhanced plants improve growth and conserve water

March 28, 2019

By introducing an extra ion channel into the stomata of mustard plants, researchers have developed a new a way to speed up the stomatal response in their leaves. The speedier stomata of the optogenetically enhanced plants improved their photosynthetic efficiency and water use - producing more than twice the amount of biomass expected in the fluctuating light typical of outdoor growing conditions. Stomata are the tiny pores that cover the surface of a plant's leaves, allowing for the uptake of CO2 for photosynthesis and for the transpiration of water, by opening and closing in response to environmental conditions. However, these dual roles are often conflicting. While open stomata may allow a plant to assimilate large amounts of carbon for photosynthesis, this happens at the cost of increased water loss. What's more, stomata respond slowly to changing conditions. In environments where natural light fluctuates - due to passing clouds, for example - stomata could stay open or closed for longer than they need to. As a result, photosynthesis is generally not as efficient as it could be and too much water is lost from the plant. The ability to circumvent the carbon:water trade-off provides a promising avenue to improve crop productivity. To address this challenge, Maria Papanatsiou and colleagues used the optogenetic tool BLINK1 (Blue Light-Induced K+ channel 1) to engineer an extra ion channel into the stomata of the mustard plant Arabidopsis. According to Papanatsiou et al., the channel, which is triggered by exposure to blue light, causes the stomata to open or close more rapidly. According to the results, the increased speed improved the plant's water use efficiency without a penalty to CO2 uptake.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Photosynthesis Articles:

Scientists design molecular system for artificial photosynthesis
A molecular system for artificial photosynthesis is designed to mimic key functions of the photosynthetic center in green plants -- light absorption, charge separation, and catalysis -- to convert solar energy into chemical energy stored by hydrogen fuel.
Photosynthesis in the dark? Unraveling the mystery of algae evolution
Researchers compared the photosynthetic regulation in glaucophytes with that in cyanobacteria, to elucidate the changes caused by symbiosis in the interaction between photosynthetic electron transfer and other metabolic pathways.
Mechanism behind the electric charges generated by photosynthesis
Photosynthesis requires a mechanism to produce large amounts of chemical energy without losing the oxidative power needed to break down water.
Research shows global photosynthesis on the rise
Researchers found a global historic record by analyzing gases trapped in Antarctic snow to see the rapid rise in photosynthesis over the past 200 years.
Artificial photosynthesis steps into the light
Rice University leads a project to create an efficient, simple-to-manufacture oxygen-evolution catalyst that pairs well with semiconductors for advanced solar cells.
More Photosynthesis News and Photosynthesis Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...