Scientists discover new type of photosynthesis

Avatar By Tyler MacDonald | 2 years ago

The discovery of a new type of photosynthesis could rewrite our textbooks and provide insights into how we can create more efficient crops by harnessing longer light wavelengths.

Although most life on Earth takes advantage of visible red light when conducting photosynthesis, the new type instead uses near-infrared light. This new form of the crucial biological process was found in many kinds of cyanobacteria, which are also known as blue-green algae.

“The new form of photosynthesis made us rethink what we thought was possible,” said Bill Rutherford, lead researcher of the study. “It also changes how we understand the key events at the heart of standard photosynthesis. This is textbook changing stuff.”

“Finding a type of photosynthesis that works beyond the red limit changes our understanding of the energy requirements of photosynthesis,” added Andrea Fantuzzi, co-author of the study. “This provides insights into light energy use and into mechanisms that protect the systems against damage by light.”

Peter Burlinson, lead for frontier bioscience at BBSRC—UKRI, believes that the discovery is important for our understanding of life.

“This is an important discovery in photosynthesis, a process that plays a crucial role in the biology of the crops that feed the world,” he said. “Discoveries like this push the boundaries of our understanding of life and Professor Bill Rutherford and the team at Imperial should be congratulated for revealing a new perspective on such a fundamental process.”

The findings were published in Science.