PHOTOSYNTHESIS

Making the most of too much sun

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Science  18 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6279, pp. 1277-1278
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6279.1277-c

Chlorella ohadii reroutes electrons to thrive in the desert sun

PHOTO: AARON KAPLAN

In sandy crusts of the desert lives a single-celled algae, Chlorella ohadii. Although too much sun will fry people and algae alike, this species survives and thrives in the harsh desert climate. Treves et al. explore the adaptations the algae taps as light conditions shift from enough to too much. In many plants and algae, excess light causes the photosynthetic system to generate singlet oxygen, which in turn causes oxidative damage to nearby proteins. C. ohadii can reroute electrons between radiative and nonradiative pathways, thus limiting the photodamage. An increase in the range of sunlight that can be productively assimilated may find biotechnological and agricultural applications.

New Phytol. 10.1111/nph.13870 (2016).

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