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News

A tray Arabidopsis thaliana plants.
November 9, 2023
Rhomboid-like protein 10, or RBL10, is thought to be an enzyme that degrades other proteins in the chloroplast membrane, but its function is largely unknown. Researchers in the Benning lab in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory are studying how RBL10 affects photosynthetic membrane lipid metabolism, an essential process in photosynthesis.
A handheld MultispeQ device is used on Arabidopsis thaliana plants to measure their rates of photosynthesis.
July 24, 2023
Understanding the intricate puzzle pieces that make up the photosynthetic systems of plants can help researchers better understand how to grow and create plants that can survive in changing climate conditions. Naveen Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher in the Federica Brandizzi lab at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL), is one of the few people in the PRL who studies carbonic anhydrases (CAs)—proteins found in the chloroplast stroma where photosynthesis takes place. A study led by Sharma to better characterize CAs in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, was recently published in The Plant Journal.
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the Michigan State University-Department of Energy (MSU-DOE) Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) a $12 million DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences competitive renewal grant to continue research in photosynthetic energy capture, conversion and storage.
June 15, 2023
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) a $12 million Department of Energy  Office of Basic Energy Sciences competitive renewal grant to continue research in photosynthetic energy capture, conversion and storage. The three-year grant (2023-2026) will allow PRL scientists to continue in their mission to understand how photosynthetic organisms function and thrive in natural environments, and enable the development of new technologies that improve human lives.
By explaining a photosynthetic peculiarity in switchgrass, Michigan State University researchers may have unlocked even more of the plant’s potential.
January 25, 2023
Michigan State University researchers have solved a puzzle that could help switchgrass realize its full potential as a low-cost, sustainable biofuel crop and curb our dependence on fossil fuels. Berkley Walker’s team in the Department of Plant Biology in MSU’s College of Natural Science has revealed why switchgrass stops performing photosynthesis in the middle of the summer — its growing season — limiting how much biofuel it yields. This knowledge, published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, is a key piece to overcoming this quirk and getting the most out of switchgrass.
An illustration of phycobilisomes.These structures work as antennae that cyanobacteria use in photosynthesis.
August 31, 2022
MSU researchers and colleagues at the University of California Berkeley, the University of South Bohemia and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have helped reveal the most detailed picture to date of important biological “antennae.” The findings, published Aug. 31 in the journal Nature, shed new light on microbial photosynthesis, and could also help researchers remediate harmful bacteria in the environment, develop artificial photosynthetic systems for renewable energy and enlist microbes in sustainable manufacturing that starts with the raw materials of carbon dioxide and sunlight.
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April 12, 2022
Climate change doesn’t just mean warmer weather. Cold spells can hit unusual lows, too, and the fluctuations between warm and chilly are becoming more extreme. MSU’s David Kramer is interested in resilience as it relates to photosynthesis because the process by which plants are powered by the sun is particularly sensitive to temperature swings. This knowledge could one day help certain crops grow in more places and help growers decide when to plant crops so they can harvest before the most severe stresses from heat and pests. The work of Kramer and his team was recently published online in the journal Plant, Cell & Environment. 
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December 17, 2021
Using innovative methodologies that combine biology and statistics, researchers from the David Kramer lab in the Michigan State University-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory observe the ways plants respond to their natural environments. The team used innovative open science platform and instruments developed at MSU called PhotosynQ and MultispeQ to reveal how photosynthesis in one species (mint) responds to complex environmental changes. The study is published in Royal Society Open Science.
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December 3, 2021
Improving the photosynthetic power-plants in crops could mean using less fossil fuel derived energy supplements in crop cultivation and lead to a second Green Revolution according to a new life-cycle assessment from the lab of Michigan State University plant biologist Berkley Walker. The study was recently published in the journal Food and Energy Security.

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