Scientists have discovered the process of diatoms—a type of alga that produces 20 % of the Earth’s oxygen—harness solar energy for photosynthesis.
The Rutgers University-led discovery, printed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could assist lead to extra efficient and affordable algae-based biofuels and fight climate change from fossil fuel burning.
Oceans and waterways are rich with algae—energy factories that convert daylight and carbon dioxide into chemical energy and assist take away carbon from the environment. Diatoms are among the most prosperous species of algae. Their fossil oils are the supply of the highest quality petroleum on Earth.
The Rutgers-led team used a 3-D bioimaging device to disclose for the first time the architecture of the proteins known as Photosystem II that diatoms use to absorb sunlight and energy their photosynthesis. They discovered that each cell contains two units of these proteins, although solely one set is active. The energetic set has a construction related to pigment proteins, similar to green chlorophyll that absorbs light, in an antenna to harvest light for photosynthesis. The inactive set lacks the antenna and does not participate in photosynthesis.
The Rutgers-led group is seeking to understand the boundaries of the facility of photosynthesis in algae and to harnessing that energy to produce biofuels. Algae store vitality within the type of natural oils and, under the right situations, could make a lot of oil that may be converted into biofuels for cars, trucks, trains, and planes, in line with the US Department of Energy.