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

December 9, 2019 Tags: Ducat lab, fundamental research
Unlikely gathering of scientists generates extraordinary research team, idea - the fat free cell 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.

November 7, 2019 Tags: awards, Kerfeld lab
Identifying a cyanobacterial gene family that helps control photosynthesis 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. 

September 30, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Lechno-Yossef, Kerfeld lab
[LINK] Grad student, Anastasiya Lavell, talks mentoring and chloroplasts on Impact 89FM [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.

August 27, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, future scientists, Benning lab
These algae can live inside fungi. It could be how land plants first evolved. 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.

July 17, 2019 Tags: Benning lab, fundamental research
Plants can crash when photosynthesis rates are high. This is one way they slow down. 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.

July 9, 2019 Tags: Weise, Sharkey lab, fundamental research
[LINK] He lab in The Economist: Understanding how crop diseases and climate change interact [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%.

May 31, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, He lab
Altering how cyanobacteria capture light from the sun can impact their health 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.

May 29, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Montgomery lab
Protecting photosynthesis from stalling: a 24-hr molecular hotline 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.  

May 20, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Sharkey lab
A new rhomboid-like protein that helps plants produce lipids 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.

May 14, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Benning lab
Simpler & smaller: a new synthetic nanofactory inspired by nature 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.

April 29, 2019 Tags: Kerfeld lab, fundamental research
Our first look at a new light absorbing protein in cyanobacteria 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.

April 2, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Kerfeld lab
Keeping plants nourished: the workings of a photosynthesis backup system 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.

March 25, 2019 Tags: Sharkey lab, fundamental research
[LINK] Brandizzi lab to study the effect of space flight on seeds [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.

March 18, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Brandizzi lab
New insights into plant cell organelle and molecule movement 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.

January 29, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Brandizzi lab
[LINK] How do you grow plants in space? Michigan State researchers are on the case [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. 

January 3, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Brandizzi lab
Overspending on defense arsenal bankrupts a plant's economy 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.

October 22, 2018 Tags: Howe lab, fundamental research
Plants, put in the dark, reveal over 100 active peroxisome proteins 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.

October 1, 2018 Tags: Hu lab, fundamental research
Stressed plant roots warn the rest of the plant of looming dangers 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.'

September 25, 2018 Tags: Brandizzi lab, fundamental research
Blazes of light reveal how plants signal danger over long distances 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.

September 24, 2018 Tags: Howe lab, fundamental research

Top Stories

Plant "ER": Advanced genomics illuminate new mechanisms for stress mitigation Plant "ER": Advanced genomics illuminate new mechanisms for stress mitigation

As our planet’s climate continues to be unpredictable, understanding how plants respond to adverse environmental conditions becomes essential. Improving crop productivity will be vital to feed the nine billion people estimated to be alive in 2050.

2022 Anton Lang Memorial Award winners announced 2022 Anton Lang Memorial Award winners announced

Grad student Philip Engelgau and postdoc Peipei Wang have been awarded the 2022 Anton Lang Memorial Award at a ceremony which took place on Monday, April 25, 2022. This year’s lecture was given by Professor Emeritus Govindjee from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Building 'nanofactories' to help make medicines and more [LINK] Building 'nanofactories' to help make medicines and more [LINK]

Spartan research in the lab of Cheryl Kerfeld could lead to efficient, low-cost chemical reactions for valuable products with help from teensy compartments made by bacteria.