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Taming electrons with bacteria parts and a little 'blood' - a new synthetic biology system [VIDEO]

When electrons move, they are the electricity that powers life. But they are hard to pin down. The newly engineered system could guide electron transfer over long distances, powering future applications in medicine or 'green' fuel production.

[LINK] Sheng Yang He featured in National Geographic

The article revolves around an exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on our food supply’s vulnerability to plant disease, using an unconventional conduit: early 20th-century glass models of rotting fruit.

Tags: He lab
Berkley Walker: trying to improve bioenergy crops with 'big picture' math models

Berkley Walker's DNA synthesis proposal has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to study how high temperatures impact plant enzymes that support photosynthesis.

Identifying a plant cell barrier to breeding more nutritious crops

For decades, scientists have unsuccessfully tried to dial up amino acid production in crops. One roadblock might be the target of rapamycin (TOR) protein, which detects nutrient availability in plant cells in order to control cell growth and metabolism.

Chasing order beyond the realm of the visible: a new tool tidies up molecules at the nano level [VIDEO]

A protein from cyanobacteria has been redesigned into a homing beacon to attract molecular payloads. The long-term goal: to organize resources inside living cells for medical or industrial applications.

Unlikely gathering of scientists generates extraordinary research team, idea - the fat free cell

Cheryl Kerfeld will lead a team of five research groups in a $3.4 million NSF Understanding the Rules of Life grant to engineer a synthetic cell. The aim is to tackle two key science and engineering research areas: building a synthetic cell and epigenetics.

Identifying a cyanobacterial gene family that helps control photosynthesis

The new gene family helps control carbon dioxide fixation, which is the first step towards making high-energy molecules that feed the planet's organisms. 

[LINK] Grad student, Anastasiya Lavell, talks mentoring and chloroplasts on Impact 89FM

The Benning lab student was a guest on The Sci-Files podcast, where she addressed her research on a protein that seems to be important for lipid regulation in Arabidopsis thaliana chloroplasts.

These algae can live inside fungi. It could be how land plants first evolved.

Marine algae, the evolutionary ancestors of plants, could have hitched a ride with fungi to make it onto dry land.

Plants can crash when photosynthesis rates are high. This is one way they slow down.

High levels of photosynthetic productivity can dangerously alter a plant cell's chemical balance. GPT2 is a sort of 'brake' that helps recycle and store extra resources that are produced during those times.

[LINK] He lab in The Economist: Understanding how crop diseases and climate change interact

The rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is mixed news for farmers. Although it is a cause for disruptions in weather patterns, it is also a source of more fuel for photosynthesis and therefore enhanced growth - up to 40%.

Altering how cyanobacteria capture light from the sun can impact their health

Various ways of affecting light-capturing antennae can cause cyanobacteria to either remain content or become stressed. The different responses depend on the species and the nature of the modification.

Protecting photosynthesis from stalling: a 24-hr molecular hotline

The enzyme, G6PDH, diverts and pumps resources into the Calvin-Benson cycle at critical moments to keep the cycle active and, by extension, plants happy and healthy.  

A new rhomboid-like protein that helps plants produce lipids

Rhomboid-like proteins are found across a large number of organisms, like bacteria, flies, and humans. This is the first time such a protein – and how it influences lipid production and transport – has been studied in detail in plants.

Simpler & smaller: a new synthetic nanofactory inspired by nature

The genetically engineered shell is based on natural structures and the principles of protein evolution. Scientists see such structures as a source of new industrial or medical technologies.

Our first look at a new light absorbing protein in cyanobacteria

The HCP2 protein is an ancestor of proteins that are known to protect against damage caused by excess light exposure. The study is the first of its kind to structurally and biophysically analyze a protein from the recently discovered HCP family.

Keeping plants nourished: the workings of a photosynthesis backup system

Plants use the shunt to quickly reboot the Calvin-Benson cycle, the crucial process that makes their food and nourishes the planet's food chain.

[LINK] Brandizzi lab to study the effect of space flight on seeds

The goal is to help increase the nutritional value of plants grown in spaceflight. The seeds will be on NASA's Orion spacecraft, on its maiden voyage to the moon and back.

New insights into plant cell organelle and molecule movement

New research reveals a protein, TGNap1, that supports the poorly-understood Trans-Golgi Network in structure, function, and motion. The study also provides evidence for microtubule-driven organelle movement, a new line of thought in plant science.

[LINK] How do you grow plants in space? Michigan State researchers are on the case

A Lansing State Journal story features Dr. Brandizzi, Evan Angelos, a fourth-year doctoral student, Starla Zemelis-Durfee, Brandizzi lab manager, and their research on how plants grow in and respond to stressful environments.