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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. 

Overspending on defense arsenal bankrupts a plant's economy

Can plants defend and grow simultaneously? The answer could help us understand natural ecosystems or help farmers increase yields without increasing dependence on pesticides.

Plants, put in the dark, reveal over 100 active peroxisome proteins

A new study identifies 111 peroxisomal proteins, including six newly identified ones, in dark-treated plants. It is part of an effort to fully map the functions of plant peroxisomes.

Stressed plant roots warn the rest of the plant of looming dangers

When facing drought or heat stress, roots are advance scouts that warn the rest of the plant to prepare for the big 'hit.'

Blazes of light reveal how plants signal danger over long distances

A multi-university study reveals how plant communication systems respond to threats from herbivores. Once wounded, plants use calcium signals to warn distant tissues of future attacks.

As climate changes, plants might not suck carbon from the air fast enough

Atmospheric scientists factor lesser known photosynthesis research into their models. The result: carbon levels in the air could be much higher by 2100 than previously predicted.