News Aug 26, 2020
| Original story from the University of California, Davis
All plants and animals respire, releasing energy from food. At the cellular level, this process occurs in the mitochondria. But there are differences at the molecular level between how plants and animals extract energy from food sources. Discovering those differences could help revolutionize agriculture.âPlant respiration is a crucial process biologically for growth, for biomass accumulation,â said Maria Maldonado, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of James Letts, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences. âIf youâre thinking of crops, the extent to which they grow is related to biomass accumulation and the interplay between photosynthesis and respiration.âIn a study appearing in eLife, Maldonado, Letts and colleagues provide the first-ever, atomic-level, 3D structure of the largest protein complex (complex I) involved in the plant mitochondrial electron transport chain.âFor mammals or yeast, we have higher resolution structures of the entire electron transport chain and even supercomplexes, which are complexes of complexes, but for plants, itâs been an entire black box,â said Maldonado. âUntil today.âFiguring out the structure and functionality of these plant protein complexes could help researchers improve agriculture and even design better pesticides.âLots of pesticides actually target the mitochondrial electron transport chain complexes of the pest,â said Letts. âSo by understanding the structures of the plantâs complexes, we can also design better-targeted pesticides or fungicides that will kill the fungus but not the plant and not the human who eats the plant.â
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World news – US – A Closer Look at Plant Respiration