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Research Highlights

Brief overviews of some of the PRL's latest research projects. For more news, explore the feature stories on the News page.

Understanding how plant stress responses impair photosynthesis, growth and seed production Understanding how plant stress responses impair photosynthesis, growth and seed production

This study shows that plant genes called MYCs which are known for their role in promoting stress responses, potently inhibit growth and seed production.

August 12, 2022 Tags: Howe lab
The potential of bacterial microcompartment architectures for phytonanotechnology The potential of bacterial microcompartment architectures for phytonanotechnology

The new field of phytonanotechnology, which involves the use of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) to enhance/alter plant systems, promises to have an immense impact on critical global problems related to climate change and the scale of food production.

August 9, 2022 Tags: Kerfeld lab
Exploring cryo-electron microscopy with molecular dynamics Exploring cryo-electron microscopy with molecular dynamics

Integrating single particle cryo-electron microscopy (EM) and molecular dynamics (MD) has made a paradigm shift to the field of structural biology in order to determine both structure and function of biomolecules.

March 7, 2022 Tags: Vermaas lab
Intramolecular 13C/12C signals inform about carbon allocation in plant leaves Intramolecular 13C/12C signals inform about carbon allocation in plant leaves

Whole-molecule carbon isotope ratios (13C/12C) enable assessments of plant carbon uptake yet conceal information about carbon allocation.

January 31, 2022 Tags: Sharkey lab
Heterologous bioproduction pathways enhance cyanobacterial photosynthesis and photoprotection Heterologous bioproduction pathways enhance cyanobacterial photosynthesis and photoprotection

Two metabolic pathways introduced into cyanobacteria increase its photosynthesis performance and provide partial protection from negative effects of excess light absorption.

March 9, 2021 Tags: Ducat lab
Identifying transcription factor networks that protect maize when its main cellular biofactory is under stress Identifying transcription factor networks that protect maize when its main cellular biofactory is under stress

Scientists have identified new transcription factor networks and their dynamic activities that protect the endoplasmic reticulum in situations requiring the production of large quantities of proteins.

October 26, 2020 Tags: Brandizzi lab
Identifying a new family of carotenoid-binding proteins in cyanobacteria Identifying and analyzing a new family of carotenoid-binding proteins in cyanobacteria

The work is the first structural description of a carotenoid binding protein called C-terminal domain-like carotenoid protein.

October 2, 2020 Tags: Kerfeld lab
Recycling carbon in photosynthesis Recycling carbon in photosynthesis

Isoprene and photosynthetic metabolism labeling experiments provided evidence that glucose is recycled back into photosynthetic metabolism.

August 25, 2020 Tags: Sharkey lab
Investigation of a protein family that generates plant cell walls Investigation of a protein family that generates plant cell walls

A new study increases our understanding of the biosynthesis of xyloglucan, one of the most common polysaccharides in plant primary cell walls.

August 3, 2020 Tags: Kim, Brandizzi lab
A new method to reveal the molecular landscapes of photosynthetic membranes inside green algae cells A new method to reveal the molecular landscapes of photosynthetic membranes inside green algae cells

The latest advances in cryo-electron tomography were used to image photosynthetic protein complexes embedded within native thylakoid membranes inside the cell.

May 14, 2020 Tags: Kanazawa
The limits of photosynthetic efficiency The limits of photosynthetic efficiency

Increasing the efficiency of the ATP synthase could lead to ROS production. This has important implications for synthetic biology efforts to alter photosynthetic efficiency by engineering the ATP synthase.

March 5, 2020 Tags: Kramer lab
Considering multiple binding sites for proteins with domain similar to the small subunit of rubisco Considering multiple binding sites for proteins with domain similar to the small subunit of rubisco

Protein modeling in cyanobacteria predicts binding interactions between rubisco and proteins with homology to the small subunit of rubisco.

March 2, 2020 Tags: Montgomery lab
Modifying a bacterial microcompartment shell proteins to bind metal ions for electron transfer with electrodes Modifying a bacterial microcompartment shell proteins to bind metal ions for electron transfer with electrodes

The Kerfeld lab has engineered a bacterial shell protein to incorporate copper for electron transfer activity. Harnessing natural biological processes to synthesize new materials is key for developing future functional bioreactors and biomaterials.

January 28, 2020 Tags: Kerfeld lab
A new protein variant that controls reproduction and growth in plants A new protein variant that controls reproduction and growth in plants

The protein IRE1C, a variant of the conserved IRE1 family, has been newly identified. It is indispensable for producing plant reproductive cells when another variant, IRE1B, is depleted.

December 13, 2019 Tags: Brandizzi lab
Building a better fluorescence estimation of electron transport in plants Building a better fluorescence estimation of electron transport in plants

The Sharkey lab reports a correction for non-photosynthetic absorption of light in calculations of electron transport. Fluorescence measurements of electron transport are one way to determine crop productivity.

October 15, 2019 Tags: Sharkey lab

Top Stories

Inaugural EHS Laboratory Safety Awards recognizes NatSci laboratories Inaugural EHS Laboratory Safety Awards recognizes NatSci laboratories

Ten Michigan State University laboratories were acknowledged by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety as a part of their inaugural Laboratory Safety Recognition Awards this year.

PsoR: How cyanobacteria change their colors PsoR: How cyanobacteria change their colors

Similar to how chameleons can change colors to blend into their surroundings, cyanobacteria can tune their coloring to better absorb light in different environments.

Plant Morphogenesis: How genes and their products interact and control a plant's response to light Plant Morphogenesis: How genes and their products interact and control a plant's response to light

Plant gene regulation dictates how plants grow under differing environmental conditions, and researchers from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory are looking at how different genes control light-dependent processes in Arabidopsis thaliana.