Enhancing photosynthesis | Royal Society Discussion Meeting

Enhancing photosynthesis in crop plants: targets for improvement

October 10 and 11, 2016.

Contributors presented interesting new findings, approaches and techniques, while the outlook and prospect of “enhancing photosynthesis” seems not to have changed significantly over many years. Crop plants rely totally on the same photosynthetic mechanisms as those used by all plants, and some bacteria. I like the idea of tinkering with these machines to see what might be done. Totally unexpected results, rather than targets, will be the most useful. Important discoveries and new possibilities always arise from a problem in understanding, and from thinking of ways to solve it. There were definitely some important problems, good ideas, and experimental tests freely reported at the meeting. Some were very good indeed. I shall comment on these. It was unfortunate that the meeting opened with an unscheduled ten minutes intelligible only to those already aware of some sort of bid for funding, thus excluding most of those present.  I was happy to be in the majority on this.

There is progress – resting always on the possibility of ideas being open to examination and criticism.

The 13th International Colloquium on Endocytobiology and Symbiosis, Kyoto

The 13th International Colloquium on Endocytobiology and Symbiosis was held in Kyoto from September 10 to 14, 2016. A fine poster advertised the colloquium.

The organiser was Junichi Obokata of Kyoto Prefectoral University. My painstakingly generous local host was Mitsumasa Hanaoka of Chiba University. I am so grateful to them both, as to the colloquium staff and fellow participants.

At Mitsumasa’s invitation I gave a seminar in his laboratory in Chiba, immediately after getting off the train from Narita airport on 8 September, and a longer and better version on 9 September at Kyoto University. Both seminars were entitled Mitochondria, ageing and separate sexes, and elicited excellent questions.

My plenary lecture at the colloquium itself was an account of progress with a consistent theme over a number of years and in different laboratories, countries, and universities, including recent results published in 2016. This lecture was entitled Why chloroplasts and mitochondria retain their own genomes and genetic systems: Co-location for Redox Regulation of gene expression.

The full programme of the Colloquium is available, and includes abstracts.

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Photosynthetic and Respiratory complexes: from structure to function

Photosynthetic and Respiratory complexes: from structure to function in Verviers, Belgium, from August 13 to 16, 2016. A satellite conference organised by Egbert Boekema and Pierre Cardol. The programme was full of interest.

I gave a Plenary Lecture soon after arrival: Redox control of thylakoid protein phosphorylation and reaction centre gene transcription. Molecular recognition redistributes mobile light-harvesting antennae and adjusts the stoichiometry of photosystems I and II.

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The 17th International Congress on Photosynthesis Research, Maastricht

The 17th International Congress on Photosynthesis Research. Photosynthesis in a Changing World took place in Maastricht, The Netherlands, from 7 to 12 August 2016. The organisers were Roberta Croce and Herbert van Amerongen.

My own contribution, in the session Evolution of Photosynthesis, was about photosynthesis in a radically changing world. It was entitled Conserved two-component transcriptional redox regulation in cyanobacteria and chloroplasts. Implications for the origin and evolutionary trajectory of oxygenic photosynthesis.

The full programme of the Congress.

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Photosynthetic electron and proton transport Arnhem 4-7 August

Photosynthetic Electron and Proton Transfer in Plants and Algae took place in Arnhem on the 4th to the 7th of August 2016.

Many thanks to the organisers; Anja Krieger, Jeremy Harbinson, and Giovanni Finazzi; as to all participants.

My own presentation had the title Redox control of chloroplast protein phosphorylation and reaction centre gene transcription. Regulatory coupling between photosynthetic electron transport and gene expression.