Navigation Links
Researchers successfully simulate photosynthesis and design a better leaf
Date:11/9/2007

University of Illinois researchers have built a better plant, one that produces more leaves and fruit without needing extra fertilizer. The researchers accomplished the feat using a computer model that mimics the process of evolution. Theirs is the first model to simulate every step of the photosynthetic process.

The research findings appear in the October issue of Plant Physiology, and will be presented today at the BIO-Asia 2007 Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Photosynthesis converts light energy into chemical energy in plants, algae, phytoplankton and some species of bacteria and archaea. Photosynthesis in plants involves an elaborate array of chemical reactions requiring dozens of protein enzymes and other chemical components. Most photosynthesis occurs in a plants leaves.

The question we wanted to ask, was, Can we do better than the plant, in terms of productivity? said principal investigator Steve Long, a professor of plant biology and crop sciences at the University of Illinois.

It wasnt feasible to tackle this question with experiments on actual plants, Long said. With more than 100 proteins involved in photosynthesis, testing one protein at a time would require an enormous investment of time and money.

But now that we have the photosynthetic process in silico, we can test all possible permutations on the supercomputer, he said.

The researchers first had to build a reliable model of photosynthesis, one that would accurately mimic the photosynthetic response to changes in the environment. This formidable task relied on the computational resources available at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

Xin-Guang Zhu, a research scientist at the center and in plant biology, worked with Long and Eric de Sturler, formerly a specialist in computational mathematics in computer sciences at Illinois, to realize this model.

After determining the relative abundance of each of the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the researchers created a series of linked differential equations, each mimicking a single photosynthetic step. The team tested and adjusted the model until it successfully predicted the outcome of experiments conducted on real leaves, including their dynamic response to environmental variation.

The researchers then programmed the model to randomly alter levels of individual enzymes in the photosynthetic process.

Before a crop plant, like wheat, produces grain, most of the nitrogen it takes in goes into the photosynthetic proteins of its leaves. Knowing that it was undesirable to add more nitrogen to the plants, Long said, the researchers asked a simple question: Can we do a better job than the plant in the way this fixed amount of nitrogen is invested in the different photosynthetic proteins?

Using evolutionary algorithms, which mimic evolution by selecting for desirable traits, the model hunted for enzymes that if increased would enhance plant productivity. If higher concentrations of an enzyme relative to others improved photosynthetic efficiency, the model used the results of that experiment as a parent for the next generation of tests.

This process identified several proteins that could, if present in higher concentrations relative to others, greatly enhance the productivity of the plant. The new findings are consistent with results from other researchers, who found that increases in one of these proteins in transgenic plants increased productivity.

By rearranging the investment of nitrogen, we could almost double efficiency, Long said.

An obvious question that stems from the research is why plant productivity can be increased so much, Long said. Why havent plants already evolved to be as efficient as possible?

The answer may lie in the fact that evolution selects for survival and fecundity, while we were selecting for increased productivity, he said. The changes suggested in the model might undermine the survival of a plant living in the wild, he said, but our analyses suggest they will be viable in the farmers field.


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers identify proteins involved in new neurodegenerative syndrome
2. Texas researchers and educators head for Antarctica
3. MGH researchers describe new way to identify, evolve novel enzymes
4. University of Pennsylvania researchers develop formula to gauge risk of disease clusters
5. U of MN researchers discover noninvasive diagnostic tool for brain diseases
6. U of Minnesota researchers discover noninvasive diagnostic tool for brain diseases
7. Researchers discover new strategies for antibiotic resistance
8. Researchers find new taste in fruit flies: carbonated water
9. Binghamton University researchers investigate evolving malaria resistance
10. UIC researchers find promising new targets for antibiotics
11. Researchers develop simple method to create natural drug products
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers successfully simulate photosynthesis and design a better leaf
(Date:4/5/2017)... YORK , April 5, 2017 Today ... is announcing that the server component of the HYPR ... known for providing the end-to-end security architecture that empowers ... HYPR has already secured over 15 million ... makers including manufacturers of connected home product suites and ...
(Date:3/30/2017)...  On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com will host the ... hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in Redmond, Washington ... developing health and wellness apps that provide a unique, ... is the first hackathon for personal genomics and ... in the genomics, tech and health industries are sending ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... The report "Video Surveillance Market ... Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and Service (VSaaS, ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market was valued ... to reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, at a ... year considered for the study is 2016 and the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/26/2017)... ... July 26, 2017 , ... ... leveraging the years of diagnostic excellence by Mayo Clinic and the experience in ... suite will be distributed through the Microsoft Azure platform and will focus on ...
(Date:7/25/2017)... ... July 25, 2017 , ... ... Heinz as Executive Director of Strategic Planning. His extensive background in consulting, ... Chuck’s professional experience encompasses marketing and differentiation consulting, business strategy development, new ...
(Date:7/24/2017)... ... July 24, 2017 , ... ... stock market news outlet had initiated coverage on Interpace Diagnostics. Interpace Diagnostics ... identifies exposure, progression and risk analysis from specific cancers in humans. , ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... VIC Technology Venture Development™ (VIC™), is ... directors. This addition continues to strengthen and diversify VIC’s board. , "We are ... “He is a highly accomplished business executive with a broad range of experience directly ...
Breaking Biology Technology: