Monday, December 04, 2006

Phyto Genetic Engineering: A Query to Carlos

In the discussion about the PT Event Carlos made an interesting comment:

All photosynthetic pathways have elements which can be reconfigured for other useful cellular purposes -- they're largely electron transfer and/or ion pump modules anyway. Even the photoreaction centers could be retooled for other purposes[rhodopsin, the chlorophylls, etc.]

And this is where I look amazingly stupid...

So, Carlos, how difficult would it be to get this process to move place metals in the leaves?

If this is an ion pump would it be possible to use it to 'pull' ions into the leaves from the rest of the plant and dump them there?


Anonymous said...

We-ell, the ion pumps in photosynthesis are usually proton pumps (although there's a chloride pump in some halobacteria). So, pretty difficult.

(It's not a bare proton, but one associated with hydrophilic groups, where the positive charge gets shuttled around, like a game of "Who's got the button".)

Converting the change in ionic gradient to chemical energy -- say, ATP -- and then using that to sponsor transport of metal ions, sure. That's how it usually functions in bioremediation anyway.

It might be possible to adjust natural cation-binding proteins to concentrate ionic metals in specific location of a plant. I'd be surprised if this hasn't already been tried, actually.

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