An ANU team has successfully replicated one of the crucial steps in photosynthesis, opening the way for biological systems powered by sunlight which could manufacture hydrogen as a fuel.
“Water is abundant and so is sunlight. It is an exciting prospect to use them to create hydrogen, and do it cheaply and safely,” said Dr Kastoori Hingorani, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis in the ANU Research School of Biology.
Hydrogen offers potential as a zero-carbon replacement for petroleum products, and is already used for launching space craft. However, until this work, the way that plants produce hydrogen by splitting water has been poorly understood.
The team created a protein which, when exposed to light, displays the electrical heartbeat that is the key to photosynthesis.
The system uses a naturally-occurring protein and does not need batteries or expensive metals, meaning it could be affordable in developing countries, Dr Hingorani said.
Co-researcher Professor Ron Pace said the research opened up new possibilities for manufacturing hydrogen as a cheap and clean source of fuel.
“This is the first time we have replicated the primary capture of energy from sunlight,” Professor Pace said.
“It’s the beginning of a whole suite of possibilities, such as creating a highly efficient fuel, or to trapping atmospheric carbon.”
Professor Pace said large amounts of hydrogen fuel produced by artificial photosynthesis could transform the economy.
“That carbon-free cycle is essentially indefinitely sustainable. Sunlight is extraordinarily abundant, water is everywhere – the raw materials we need to make the fuel. And at the end of the usage cycle it goes back to water,” he said.
The team modified a much-researched and ubiquitous protein, Ferritin, which is present in almost all living organisms.
Ferritin’s usual role is to store iron, but the team removed the iron and replaced it with the abundant metal, manganese, to closely resemble the water splitting site in photosynthesis.
The protein also binds a haem group, which the researchers replaced with a light-sensitive pigment, Zinc Chlorin.
When they shone light onto the modified ferritin, there was a clear indication of charge transfer just like in natural photosynthesis.
The Latest on: Synthetic photosynthesis
via Google News
The Latest on: Synthetic photosynthesis
- Building a CO2-concentrating mechanismon September 2, 2019 at 6:46 am
The metabolic reactions of photosynthesis developed when the earth’s atmosphere ... The idea of “minimal systems” is a powerful concept in synthetic biology, most famously in the case of the ...
- A Synthetic Ion Channel Makes Plants Grow Fasteron August 31, 2019 at 10:24 pm
When there’s no light available for photosynthesis, the plant closes its stomata so ... engineering and a cell-specific promoter to add BLINK1, a light-controlled synthetic potassium channel, to guard ...
- Rob and Rubisco: directed evolution of photosynthesison June 27, 2019 at 8:05 am
Researchers from Australia recently reported a novel way to study a key enzyme in photosynthesis and carbon fixation ... project and is coordinating the Plant Synthetic Biology Network on the American ...
- Advance in re-engineering photosynthesis to make drugs, compounds or ingredientson April 3, 2019 at 1:42 pm
Scientists are reporting an advance in re-engineering photosynthesis to transform plants into bio-factories that manufacture high-value ingredients for medicines, fabrics, fuels and other products.
- Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the fieldon January 3, 2019 at 11:04 am
1 Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. 2 Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, ...
- Novel Catalyst Allows for Artificial Photosynthesison October 17, 2018 at 1:41 am
Natural plant photosynthesis still remains the most efficient way of ... Current technical methods for the photocatalytic splitting of water molecules use synthetic components to mimic these processes ...
- Interfacing nature’s catalytic machinery with synthetic materials for semi-artificial photosynthesison October 4, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Semi-artificial photosynthetic systems aim to overcome the limitations of natural and artificial photosynthesis while providing an opportunity to investigate their respective functionality. The ...
- New technique combines organic and synthetic tech to harness the sun’s energyon September 6, 2018 at 5:55 pm
By combining organic and synthetic parts in a process called “semi-artificial” photosynthesis, they’ve developed a proof of concept that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen using modified ...
- Learning from photosynthesis: Synthetic circuits can harvest light energyon November 13, 2017 at 8:23 am
The green sulfur bacterium makes its home in the chilly waters of the Black Sea. To eke out its lonely existence, this life form scavenges energy from the feeble sunlight available to it at a depth of ...
- Synthetic photosynthesis is now a possibilityon June 9, 2017 at 1:36 am
Chemists have discovered a new technique making synthetic photosynthesis possible. Photosynthesis is nature’s phenomena which, apart from supplying oxygen to humans, helps plants give the energy and ...
via Bing News