I found a cool article that talks about how photosynthesis came to be 3 billion year old process where there was no oxygen. Now somehow the proteins were able to change to oxidize water to release oxygen.
Photosynthesis is the most important biological process driving the biosphere. It harnesses the energy of sunlight, and provides us with our main sources of food and fuel. The study of photosynthesis has allowed scientists not only to understand the intricacies of how organisms use light to drive their metabolism, but has also paved the way for technological advances into sustainable energy sources.
"The photosynthetic process first came into being roughly 3 billion years ago, before Earth's atmosphere contained oxygen," said Kevin Redding, a professor in the School of Molecular Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, whose group is leading the research at ASU. "Photosynthesis works by using specialized membrane proteins, called photosynthetic reaction centers, which collect the energy from light and use it to pump electrons across a biological membrane from one cellular electron carrier to another, resulting in conversion of electromagnetic (i.e. light) energy into chemical energy, which the organism can use."
A great deal of research has determined that these reaction centers appeared just once on the planet, and have since diversified to perform different sorts of chemistry.
Despite the diversification, the reaction centers retain the same overall architecture, reflecting their common origin. During the last 3 billion years these proteins have been elaborated and changed and it has been difficult to reconstruct what happened over this enormous period of time. However, we do know that one of them developed the ability to oxidize water, releasing oxygen. This changed the world irrevocably, and allowed for life as we know it today.
Photosynthesis is the process of converting light into energy. This natural process makes it possible for plants and other organisms to create food when it is required. The majority of the process of photosynthesis takes place in a plant's mesophyll cells' chloroplasts. In order for a plant to make its own food through the process of photosynthesis it requires three things: carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight.
When Earth was formed, the atmosphere was rich in carbon dioxide and no free oxygen molecules were present. Early life forms, compared to present day microorganisms, satisfied their energy needs initially by 'eating' small energy-rich molecules. At the same time, some 'discovered' how to harvest solar energy and store it in energy-rich molecules such as sugars. Using ultrashort X-ray laser pulses delivered by the X-ray free electron laser near Stanford, USA, researchers have now managed to obtain high-resolution images of PSII and its remarkable water-splitting catalyst of all four stable states of the reaction cycle. These images will help researchers better understand this complex mechanism, possibly opening up the door to developing cheap and efficient solar fuel devices! Maybe then there'll be more people using solar panels!
University of Michigan researchers have developed a powerful microscope that can map how light energy migrates in photosynthetic bacteria. The microscope could help researchers develop more efficient organic materials, a type of solar cell that could provide cheaper energy than silicon-based solar cells.
In photosynthetic plants and bacteria, light hits the leaf or bacteria and a system of tiny light-harvesting antenna shuttle it along through proteins to what’s called a reaction center. Here, light is “trapped” and turned into metabolic energy for the organisms.
In 2005, Susana Enríquez discovered corals housing photosynthetic algal symbionts absorbed light more efficiently than plant leaves. More light absorption would lead to greater algal photosynthesis. The University of Mexico found that the coral skeleton enhanced light absorption through scattering. Specifically, they have found Echinopora lamellose (coral colony) to have high scattering due to its flat structure. The more light scatters and bounces around within the coral skeleton, the greater the chance it will hit a chlorophyll molecule within an algal cell and stimulate photosynthesis.
This interesting article, I found, talks about how photosynthesis could help make a design to create powerful artificial solar cells. Researches at Georgia State University came up with this idea.
During photosynthesis, plants use light energy to produce glucose from carbon dioxide and water. Some organisms such as algae can convert solar energy into chemical energy that can be used for fuel. This can be used to provide electricity, heat (in your homes), hydrogen gas, etc. Plants are so efficient because light energy is captured, producing an electron, which moves across a membrane and then never comes back. With artificial systems, the electron produced DOES come back making it a lot less efficient.
Through their journey in trying to figure out the perfect way to create this new design, they need to understand the knowledge behind solar energy conversion in plants, which is close to impossible because the facts are poorly understood. The researchers quoted, “detailed knowledge in this area is important to aid in quests to design economically viable artificial solar converters. Our work has revealed one design principle that is at play in efficient solar energy conversion in plants, and the hope is that this principle could be utilized in the design of new and better types of artificial solar cells.”
This article is about a woman who went 47 days living off only sunlight and tea, in an attempt to live life photosynthesizing. She grew tired and weak, lost 20% of her body weight, vomited after drinking water, and experienced twitches and cold hands. Her "experiment" ended when she was unable to move from her reclining chair, resulting in an immediate switch in diet that would slowly get her back to eating normal again. This is the pinnacle of the human race.
Photosynthesis is a process that uses energy from the sun to produce glucose from water and carbon dioxide. This process is necessary in order for plants to grow and humans to receive oxygen. Photosynthesis also helps the environment by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere thus reducing the greenhouse gases that warm planet Earth. An interesting article I found was that researchers have engineered an enzyme that mimics parts of photosynthesis and reduces carbon dioxide. The enzyme includes an artificial light capturing unit, cysteine mutation in the protein. This allowed them to attach a carbon dioxide reducing catalyst. “Under light, the enzyme’s dye part takes electrons from NADH. With these electrons, it generates a super reductant state that drives carbon dioxide reduction.” However, this enzyme is not as efficient as natural photosystem proteins but is able to help reduce the increased level of carbon dioxide in our environment.
A new type of photosynthesis has been discovered by scientists. While nearly all organisms that undergo photosynthesis use red light, absorbed in chlorophyll-a to make energy, a wide range of cyanobacteria have been found to use near infrared light instead. When some cyanobacteria are grown under near infrared light, the chlorophyll-a standard systems shut down, and a different chlorophyll system, chlorophyll-f begins to take over. This new research shows that chlorophyll-f is responsible for photosynthesis under shaded conditions, using infrared lower energy light to do so.
Both photosynthesis and cellular respiration yield molecules used for energy. However, photosynthesis produces the sugar glucose, which is an energy storage molecule. Cellular respiration takes the sugar and turns it into a form both plants and animals can use.
Photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide and water to make sugar and oxygen. Cellular respiration uses oxygen and sugar to release energy, carbon dioxide, and water.
Plants and other photosynthetic organisms perform both sets of reactions. In the daytime, most plants take carbon dioxide and release oxygen. During the day and at night, plants use oxygen to release the energy from sugar, and release carbon dioxide. In plants, these reactions aren't equal. Green plants release much more oxygen than they use. In fact, they are responsible for the Earth's breathable atmosphere.
A new discovery finds that cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) can grow in near-infrared light. When those cyanobacteria are grown under near-infrared light, the standard chlorophyll-a-containing systems shut down and different systems containing a different kind of chlorophyll, chlorophyll-f, turn on. Researchers found chlorophyll-f plays the key role in photosynthesis under shaded conditions, and it is using lower-energy infrared light to do the complex chemistry.
Photosynthesis is a very important process and without it, many species would not be able to survive. If photosynthesis stops, most plants would die quickly. Some would be able to hold out for a few days or a few weeks depending on how long they lived and how much sugar they had stored within their cells. It would also drop down the temperatures of Earth. Within a year, temperatures would reach minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 73 degrees Celsius), resulting in a frozen planet.
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