APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Biofuel production
- Food production
- Increases antioxidant content in plants
- Accelerates photoprotection to improve photosynthetic efficiency
A research team including Berkeley Lab’s Zhirong Li and HHMI’s Kris Niyogi has discovered a new enzyme that accelerates the xanthophyll cycle reactions of photosynthesis and increases zeaxanthin, a nutritional antioxidant and high value product, in plants.
This enzyme, Chlorophycean Violaxanthin De-Epoxidase (CVDE), is a special type of Violaxanthin De-Epoxidase (VDE) from green algae that catalyzes the formation of xanthophyll cycle intermediaries during photosynthesis in excess light conditions. Researchers discovered mutants defective in the xanthophyll cycle and genetically modified strains of green algae and plants through complementation to overexpress the CVDE protein and hasten xanthophyll reactions. To determine the relative success of the xanthophyll cycle reactions, high performance liquid chromatography tracked the formation of a specific xanthophyll cycle product, zeaxanthin, which resulted from CVDE enzyme activity.
The Berkeley Lab technology is a new option for accelerating plant growth through altering photoprotection. Currently, plant-type VDE located in the thylakoid lumen can be used to alter photoprotection and thereby increase photosynthesis. CVDE, however, works from the stromal side of the thylakoid membrane and provides an alternative to the plant-type VDE. In addition, the Berkeley Lab technology increases zeaxanthin while maintaining the formation of downstream carotenoids and abscisic acid.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Li, Zhirong, Peers, Graham, Dent, Rachel M., Bai, Yong, Yang, Scarlett Y., Apel, Wiebke, Leonelli, Lauriebeth, Niyogi, Krishna K. Evolution of an atypical de-epoxidase for photoprotection in the green lineage. Nature Plants. DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2016.140 (2016).
STATUS: Published U.S. Patent Application 15/625,798 (Publication 2018/0057800). Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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