Special Issue: Photosynthesis   

August 2010, Volume 52 Issue 8, Pages 694ĘC770.

Cover Caption: Photosynthesis
Introducing C4 photosynthetic pathway into C3 crops has the potential to increase crop productivity and consequently to ensure future food security. By identifying key regulatory elements controlling major C4 features, it might be ultimately possible to design viable routes for engineering C4 crops. The diagram shows the typical C4 photosynthesis in plants (see pp 762ĘC770 for details).


Photosynthesis for Food, Fuel and the Future  
Author: Congming Lu
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 694-697
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00984.x
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          Invited Expert Reviews
Computational Biology Approaches to Plant Metabolism and Photosynthesis: Applications for Corals in Times of Climate Change and Environmental Stress  
Author: M. James C. Crabbe
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 698-703
Published Online: June 21, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00962.x

Knowledge of factors that are important in reef resilience helps us to understand how reef ecosystems react following major anthropogenic and environmental disturbances. The symbiotic relationship between the photosynthetic zooxanthellae algal cells and corals is that the zooxanthellae provide the coral with carbon, while the coral provides protection and access to enough light for the zooxanthellae to photosynthesise. This article reviews some recent advances in computational biology relevant to photosynthetic organisms, including Beyesian approaches to kinetics, computational methods for flux balances in metabolic processes, and determination of clades of zooxanthallae. Application of these systems will be important in the conservation of coral reefs in times of climate change and environmental stress.

Crabbe MJC (2010) Computational biology approaches to plant metabolism and photosynthesis: applications for corals in times of climate change and environmental stress. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 52(8), 698–703.

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Structural and Mechanistic Aspects of Mn-oxo and Co-based Compounds in Water Oxidation Catalysis and Potential Applications in Solar Fuel Production  
Author: Harvey J.M. Hou
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 704-711
Published Online: June 16, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00974.x

To address the issues of energy crisis and global warming, novel renewable carbon-free or carbon-neutral energy sources must be identified and developed. A deeper understanding of photosynthesis is the key to provide a solid foundation to facilitate this transformation. To mimic the water oxidation of photosystem II oxygen evolving complex, Mn-oxo complexes and Co-phosphate catalytic material were discovered in solar energy storage. Building on these discoveries, recent advances in solar energy conversion showed a compelling working principle by combing the active Mn-oxo and Co-based catalysts in water splitting with semiconductor hetero-nanostructures for effective solar energy harnessing. In this review the appealing systems including Mn-oxo tetramer/Nafion, Mn-oxo dimer/TiO2, Mn-oxo oligomer/WO3, Co-Pi/Fe2O3, and Co-Pi/ZnO are summarized and discussed. These accomplishments offer a promising framework and have a profound impact in the field of solar fuel production.

Hou HJM (2010) Structural and mechanistic aspects of Mn-oxo and Co-based compounds in water oxidation catalysis and potential applications in solar fuel production. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 52(8), 704–711.

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High Temperature Effects on Electron and Proton Circuits of Photosynthesis  
Author: Thomas D. Sharkey and Ru Zhang
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 712-722
Published Online: June 16, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00975.x

Photosynthesis is sensitive to high temperature with reversible declines during moderate stress and irreversible damage with more severe stress. While many studies have focused on the irreversible damage, the reversible changes can tell how photosynthesis tolerates high temperature. Knowing how high temperature is tolerated could lead to ways of extending high temperature tolerance. New analytical methods have been used to probe electron and proton circuits of intact leaves at high temperature. Combined with previous work with isolated systems, it appears that there is a large change in redox distribution among thylakoid components. Photosystem I becomes more reduced but photosystem II and the stroma become more oxidized. Several lines of evidence support the existence of significant cyclic electron flow at high temperature. It is hypothesized that these changes allow for adenosine tri-phosphate homeostasis and maintenance of an energy gradient across the thylakoid membrane, helping to keep it from suffering irreversible damage at high temperature.

Sharkey TD, Zhang R (2010) High temperature effects on electron and proton circuits of photosynthesis. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 52(8), 712–722.

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Molecular Functions of Oxygen-Evolving Complex Family Proteins in Photosynthetic Electron Flow  
Author: Kentaro Ifuku, Seiko Ishihara and Fumihiko Sato
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 723-734
Published Online: June 16, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00976.x

Oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) protein is the original name for membrane-peripheral subunits of photosystem (PS) II. Recently, multiple isoforms and homologs for OEC proteins have been identified in the chloroplast thylakoid lumen, indicating that functional diversification has occurred in the OEC family. Gene expression profiles suggest that the Arabidopsis OEC proteins are roughly categorized into three groups: the authentic OEC group, the stress-responsive group, and the group including proteins related to the chloroplast NAD(P)H dehydrogenase (NDH) complex involved in cyclic electron transport around PSI. Based on the above gene expression profiles, molecular functions of the OEC family proteins are discussed together with our current knowledge about their functions.

Ifuku K, Ishihara S, Sato F (2010) Molecular functions of oxygen-evolving complex family proteins in photosynthetic electron flow. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 52(8), 723–734.

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Bidirectional Electron Transfer in the Reaction Centre of Photosystem I  
Author: Stefano Santabarbara, Luca Galuppini and Anna Paola Casazza
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 735-749
Published Online: June 16, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00977.x

In the past decade light-induced electron transfer reactions in photosystem I have been the subject of intensive investigations that have led to the elucidation of some unique characteristics, the most striking of which is the existence of two parallel, functional, redox active cofactors chains. This process is generally referred to as bidirectional electron transfer. Here we present a review of the principal evidences that have led to the uncovering of bidirectionality in the reaction centre of photosystem I. A special focus is dedicated to the results obtained combining time-resolved spectroscopic techniques, either difference absorption or electron paramagnetic resonance, with molecular genetics, which allows, through modification of the binding of redox active cofactors with the reaction centre subunits, an effect on their physical-chemical properties.

Santabarbara S, Galuppini L, Casazza AP (2010) Bidirectional electron transfer in the reaction centre of photosystem I. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 52(8), 735–749.

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Arabidopsis Chloroplast FtsH, var2 and Suppressors of var2 Leaf Variegation: a Review  
Author: Xiayan Liu, Fei Yu and Steve Rodermel
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 750-761
Published Online: June 29, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00980.x

Variegation mutants are ideal model systems to study chloroplast biogenesis. We are interested in variegations whose green and white-sectored leaves arise as a consequence of the action of nuclear recessive genes. In this review, we focus on the Arabidopsis var2 variegation mutant, and discuss recent progress toward understanding the function of VAR2 and the mechanism of var2-mediated variegation. VAR2 is a subunit of the chloroplast FtsH complex, which is involved in turnover of the Photosystem II reaction center D1 protein, as well as in other processes required for the development and maintenance of the photosynthetic apparatus. The cells in green sectors of var2 have normal-appearing chloroplasts whereas cells in the white sectors have abnormal plastids that lack pigments and organized lamellae. To explain the mechanism of var2 variegation, we have proposed a threshold model in which the formation of chloroplasts is due to the presence of activities/processes that are able to compensate for a lack of VAR2. To gain insight into these activities, second-site suppressor screens have been carried out to obtain mutants with non-variegation phenotypes. Cloning and characterization of several var2 suppressor lines have uncovered several mechanisms of variegation suppression, including an unexpected link between var2 variegation and chloroplast translation.

Liu X, Yu F, Rodermel S (2010) Arabidopsis chloroplast FtsH, var2 and suppressors of var2 leaf variegation: a review. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 52(8), 750–761.

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C4 Rice ĘC an Ideal Arena for Systems Biology Research  
Author: Xin-Guang Zhu, Lanlan Shan,Yu Wang and William Paul Quick
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010 52(8): 762-770
Published Online: July 12, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00983.x

Engineering the C4 photosynthetic pathway into C3 crops has the potential to dramatically increase the yields of major C3 crops. The genetic control of features involved in C4 photosynthesis are still far from being understood; which partially explains why we have gained little success in C4 engineering thus far. Next generation sequencing techniques and other high throughput technologies are offering an unprecedented opportunity to elucidate the developmental and evolutionary processes of C4 photosynthesis. Two contrasting hypotheses about the evolution of C4 photosynthesis exist, i.e. the master switch hypothesis and the incremental gain hypothesis. These two hypotheses demand two different research strategies to proceed in parallel to maximize the success of C4 engineering. In either case, systems biology research will play pivotal roles in identifying key regulatory elements controlling development of C4 features, identifying essential biochemical and anatomical features required to achieve high photosynthetic efficiency, elucidating genetic mechanisms underlining C4 differentiation and ultimately identifying viable routes to engineer C4 rice. As a highly interdisciplinary project, the C4 rice project will have far-reaching impacts on both basic and applied research related to agriculture in the 21st century.

Zhu XG, Shan L, Wang Y, Quick WP (2010) C4 rice – an ideal arena for systems biology research. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 52(8), 762–770.

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