Enhancing Carbon Capture in Photosynthesis

 Seagriculture EU 2024

Modelling photosynthesis has had an important impact on our understanding of biogeochemical processes since it has allowed to calculate the rate of photosynthesis at the level of the Earth from remote measurements and follow its changes over time. Image: Burlacot Lab

New work led by Carnegie Institution for Science’s Adrien Burlacot lays the groundwork for transferring algae’s photosynthesis abilities to agricultural crops, which could help feed more people and fight climate change. Their findings are published in Nature.

Photosynthesis takes place in two stages. In the first, light is absorbed and used to synthesize energy molecules, with oxygen as a byproduct. These energy molecules are then used to power the second stage, in which carbon dioxide from the air is fixed into carbon-based sugars, such as glucose and sucrose.

Because photosynthesis is such an ancient process — one that predates and, in fact, shaped the atmosphere’s current composition — it isn’t a particularly efficient one. The mechanism by which plants capture carbon dioxide from the air is a victim of its own success. In a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere, it was a snap for plants to grab the carbon necessary for the second stage. But now, it’s a different story and plants are limited by the still small amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and can’t efficiently lock it down.

Luckily, photosynthetic algae have developed mechanisms that increase their efficiency by concentrating carbon dioxide around the enzyme responsible for fixing it into sugars. This biochemical boost is part of what allows algae to grow so quickly.

“Our work has unraveled the energetic toolbox we need for enhancing carbon capture in photosynthesis.”

“If the cellular tools underlying this ability can be harnessed, it would allow us to engineer more productive plants,” Dr. Burlacot said. “This would aid in the fight against climate change by sequestering more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help combat world hunger by producing more food.”

He and collaborators from Aix-Marseilles University — Ousmane Dao, Pascaline Auroy, Stephan Cuiné, Yonghua Li-Beisson, and Gilles Peltier — were able to elucidate the energy pathway that powers algae’s ability to concentrate carbon dioxide.

In order to be transported across the biological membranes in which the second stage of photosynthesis occurs, the atmospheric carbon dioxide must be converted to bicarbonate and then back again. The researchers revealed how cells create the energy to drive this series of alterations, allowing carbon dioxide to be concentrated without cutting into the cell’s power supply for the carbon fixation process.

“It’s been long known that algae’s ability to concentrate carbon dioxide and improve photosynthetic efficiency required energy, but the molecular mechanisms of this process have remained poorly understood until now,” Dr. Burlacot said. “Our work has unraveled the energetic toolbox we need for enhancing carbon capture in photosynthesis.”

Source: Carnegie Institution for Science

All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint articles in their entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact david@algaeplanet.com. Algae Planet accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

Seagriculture USA 2024
AlgaeMetrics

Subscribe

Breaking-News

  • May 17, 2024: BettaF!sh, a leading alt seafood and seaweed start-up in Europe, has announced its involvement in the FunSea project, a collaborative EU-wide research initiative designed to advance the nutritional quality and safety of cultivated brown and green seaweed. This research project intends to develop novel, sustainable food products over a three-year period, by employing cutting-edge processing technologies and utilizing residual biomass from biomarine industries. READ MORE...
  • May 15, 2024: The 2024 Algae Biomass Summit, to be held in Houston, Texas, October 20-22, 2024, is now accepting speaker and poster abstracts for the world’s largest algae conference. Abstracts should be submitted by May 24th to receive preferential scoring by the review committee, as well as student registration discounts. READ MORE...
  • May 13, 2024: The Tasmanian Government is investing $4 million in the agricultural sector with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock by more than 16,000 tons. “The TasFarmers proposal will use Sea Forest’s Asparagopsis SeaFeed as a feed additive to some 24,000 head of livestock in this large-scale trial to demonstrate commercial-scale viability of Asparagopsis feed supplements,” said Minister for Parks and Environment, Nick Duigan. READ MORE...
  • May 10, 2024: Dallas-based public charity the Cares Organization has received a substantial donation from the National Christian Foundation and ZimWorx to kickstart their newest sponsored project, the Eat To Grow Development and Upliftment Program, which aims to address food insecurity and poverty in Zimbabwe by establishing a microalgae spirulina farm which will feed 500 people per day in a sustainable way. READ MORE...

Algae Europe 2024

A Beginner’s Guide