APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Biofuel production
- Improves food or energy crop yield
- Eliminates unwanted light energy dissipation
Plants manage light absorption through photoprotective mechanisms that release excess light energy as heat, a process known as non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a new approach to improving photosynthesis by eliminating NPQ reactions to redirect light absorption to plant growth instead of light dissipation.
Using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, researchers identified a mutant that displayed a slowly reversible NPQ pathway. Suppressors of the mutant were screened to determine the key molecular players in this NPQ pathway, and results indicated that the chloroplastic lipocalin protein (CHL) is required for this NPQ mechanism. Mutating or silencing the CHL gene might improve crop yield by eliminating sustained energy dissipation.
Current methods to increase photochemical reactions in plants manipulate carbon metabolism or alter light absorption. The Berkeley Lab approach, however, seeks to manipulate molecular mechanisms by rerouting otherwise dissipated light energy into photochemical reactions to increase plant growth and support the world’s increased demands for crop productivity
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.
STATUS: Published PCT Patent Application US2017/045686 (Publication WO/2018/031442). Available for licensing or collaborative research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Malnoe, A., Schultink, A., Shahrasbi, S., Rumeau, D., Havaux, M., Niyogi, K. “The plastid lipocalin LCNP is required for sustained photoprotective energy dissipation in Arabidopsis,” The Plant Cell, Vol 29, Issue 11, Nov. 2017.
Yang, S. “Berkeley Lab Researchers ID Plant “Sunscreen” Protein,” Berkeley Lab News Center, December 18, 2017.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
Artificial Photosynthesis: Chemical Synthesis Powered by Sunlight
Artificial Positive Feedback Loop for Increasing Production of a Biosynthetic Product in Specific Plant Tissues