Ancient enzymes: a potential path to improve photosynthesis

An April 2022 publication in Science Advances, describes some recent work in the lab to improve photosynthesis. The paper describes the evolution of Rubisco, an important yet inefficient carbon-fixing enzyme, using computational methods. These computational methods led to the prediction of ancestral Rubisco variants that were tested in E. coli under different CO2 conditions. Enzymes with higher catalytic efficiency were identified. Overall, the results highlight ways to help plants adapt to anthropogenic climate change. Check out a Cornell CALS news article for a longer description of the work.

Dr. Maureen Hanson and Dr. Myat Lin
Photo credit: Cornell University

PNAS publication describes work to remove molecular barriers in improving photosynthesis

Members of the Hanson Lab have co-authored a new Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publication on work towards improving photosynthesis. Kevin Hines (Ph.D. ’19), a recent Hanson Lab alum, and Vishal Chaudhari, postdoctoral associate in Hanson’s lab, were co-first authors. Kristen Edgeworth, a former NSF REU student, and Thomas Owens, Section of Plant Biology, joined Hines and Chaudhari, and Hanson in the work.

The paper outlines progress towards the goal of concentrating carbon dioxide (CO2) in the chloroplast of plants. A feat that would improve photosynthesis by enhancing the efficiency of carbon fixation. The removal of carbonic anhydrase is an important step in the overall process. Carbonic anhydrase is naturally occurring in plants and works to balance levels of CO2 and bicarbonate.

The Cornell Chronicle has published an article that describes this work in more detail.

Plasma proteomics publication shows disrupted cell-to-cell signaling

We are proud to announce our latest plasma proteomics publication is available as open access in Proteomes.

This manuscript takes a look at 4,790 circulating plasma proteins from 20 ME/CFS women compared to 20 healthy women, over an unprecedented range, for ME/CFS, of 9 orders of magnitude.

Arnaud Germain, PhD

Pathway analysis uncovered disrupted cell-to-cell communication, specifically in the ephrin-Eph signaling pathway. This pathway is crucial for many aspects of our body’s homeostasis, including development, physiology, and disease regulation.

Additionally, the paper outlines promising results for the development of a diagnostic test using protein ratios.

First author, Arnaud Germain, PhD, outlines these findings in a video abstract below.

Transcripts for the video are available:

Chinese, French, and Spanish subtitles for the video abstract are available. See video settings to select an option.

Nature publication outlines progress towards improving photosynthesis

Hanson Lab Postdoctoral Research Associate, Myat Lin, is first author on a Nature Plants publication that outlines new advances on the use of Escherichia coli for improving photosynthesis. The publication highlights key work in providing a microbial platform for the continued enhancement of Rubisco enzyme kinetics. Vishal Chaudhari and Maureen Hanson from our lab and William Stone ’18 contributed to this work.

Dr. Maureen Hanson and Dr. Myat Lin
Photo credit: Cornell University

The Cornell Chronicle has published an article on this work. The Nature Plants publication has limited access, but the Cornell Chronicle article is freely available.

Working to improve plant photosynthesis with collaborators at Lancaster University

Collaboration between the Hanson Lab and researchers at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, produced a February 2020 publication in Plant Physiology. The publication outlines progress towards engineering a cyanobacteria CO2 concentrating mechanism in plants, an achievement that has the potential to increase crop production by improving photosynthesis. Particularly, the paper demonstrates the ability to form a hybrid Rubisco enzyme composed of a plant (tobacco) small subunit and a cyanobacteria (Synechococcus elongatus) large subunit. Check out the publication to take a closer look into this fascinating research.

Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University
Photo credit:

Collaboration leads to designer protein production in plants

Jennifer Schmidt at ASPB 2018

A collaboration between the Hanson Lab and the labs of Beth Ahner at Cornell University and Steve Long at the University of Illinois resulted in a publication in Nature Plants.  The work done is a proof of principle showing that plants can be used to produce designer proteins. Engineered plants producing cellulase protein Cel6A, and with enough sun, water and fertilizer, were able to grow normally in the field. A Cornell Chronicle article, “Designer plants one step closer to growing low-cost medical, industrial proteins“, goes into more detail about this work and includes a video illustration.

Cyanobacterial Rubisco Publication in Nature Journal

Cyanobacterial Rubisco introduced into transplastomic tobacco plants was reported in Nature in September, 2014.  Two different tobacco genotypes that fix all carbon with a Rubisco enzyme derived from cyanobacteria have been produced following engineering the chloroplast genome by two different strategies.  Producing these plants are an important step needed to introduce the entire cyanobacterial CO2-concentration mechanism into crop plants for improved photosynthesis and crop yield.
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