Biosciences and Biotechnology Institute of Aix-Marseille
Scientific result | Photosynthesis
The signaling pathway operates by regulating the function of the chloroplast, the site of photosynthesis in plants and algae. This work has the potential to lead to the development of new strategies for protecting crops from climate change and for enhancing photosynthesis to create biofuels and other valuable products.
These results are published in
Plant Cell on February 25th 2016 and were highlighted as a press release in the French national press.
In this study, researchers from the CEA, CNRS and Aix-Marseille University investigated a poorly understood plant signaling pathway that was inherited from the bacterial ancestor of the chloroplast. This signaling pathway is mediated by the molecule guanosine tetraphosphate, which is known to play an important role in the response of bacteria to stress. By using genetics to modify the amount of guanosine tetraphosphate in the chloroplast, the researchers were able to show that this molecule acts as a potent inhibitor of chloroplast function. Surprisingly, they also discovered that this bacterial signaling pathway is at the center of a dialogue between the chloroplast and the nucleus of the cell that controls the growth and development of the plant.
The guanosine tetraphosphate signaling pathway could be exploited to help optimize the photosynthetic yield and growth of plants under different conditions (for example water or nutrient deficiency) and has potential applications in agriculture, green chemistry, and enhancing the yield of biofuel extracted from algae.
Plant and algal chloroplasts originate from the endosymbiosis of an ancient photosynthetic bacterium by a eukaryotic cell (the common ancestor of animals and plants) that took place more than one billion years ago. Thanks to this extraordinary alliance the photosynthetic eukaryotes (green plants and algae) now sustain the different ecosystems of the planet.
BIAM : Biosciences and Biotechnologies Institute of Aix-Marseille
BVME : Department of Plant Biology and Environmental Microbiology
LISM : Laboratory for the Engineering of Macromolecular Systems
Sugliani, M., Abdelkefi, H., Ke, H., Bouveret, E., Robaglia, C., Caffarri, S., Field, B. (2016). An Ancient Bacterial Signaling Pathway Regulates Chloroplast Function to Influence Growth and Development in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 10.1105/tpc.16.00045, online the 24/02/2016
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.