Researchers at Michigan State University have discovered a new "switch" that regulates photosynthesis in plants. The results, published in the new issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will help increase crop and biofuel production.

Plants are used to store solar energy through photosynthesis, which are stored in two ways for plant metabolism. The energy absorbed by the plant must be balanced with the energy consumed by the metabolism, otherwise the plant will begin to produce toxins, and if the grower does not deal with it in time, the plant will die.

The team led by David Kramer, a professor of photosynthesis and bioenergetics at Michigan State University, focused on the problems that arise when photosynthesis-generated energy output and plant energy do not reach equilibrium. According to a report by the physicist organization network on the 15th, they found that there is a substance called hydrogen peroxide in the toxin produced by plants, which is a signal that activates a photosynthetic path. This path is called circulating electron flow (CEF).

Kramer said that confirming the function of this "switch" will help increase plant yields and enhance plant resilience to the environment, thereby alleviating the global demand for food and fuel under climate change conditions. “In the next 30 years, we need to significantly increase food production to meet the growing global population and the potential for environmental changes that may affect crop yields.”

Desera Strand, a co-author of the research paper and a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University, said that although scientists have conducted extensive research on CEF, little is known about the electron transport routes in this plant. In order to meet the ever-changing demands of plant cells, photosynthetic pathways such as CEF must be able to communicate and disconnect quickly.

Strand said that to modify the metabolism of plants and algae to meet the global demand for food and fuel, it is necessary to understand the process of photosynthesis and how to adjust it as needed. “Simply increasing the solar energy absorbed by a plant without maintaining its balance with metabolism may be counterproductive and even lead to cell death.” She said, “The energy must be fine-tuned and balanced.”

“It’s not easy to increase plant yields, in part because photosynthesis involves some of the most active chemicals in biology, and it’s a very unstable process,” Kramer said. “We know that CEF is in photosynthesis. An important process, especially when the plant is in a dry, cold or hot environment, but we don't know how it is regulated. However, we now have an element that triggers photosynthesis."

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