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Frog Foam Photosynthesis

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the how-green-are-your-frogs dept.

Biotech 21

Garrett Fox writes "University of Cincinnati researchers describe a method of getting photosynthesis from a high-surface-area foam containing enzymes that produce sugar using light and CO2 (abstract). Oddly, the foam itself is derived from a species of frog. More interesting is that the technique doesn't use whole cells or apparently even chloroplasts. The researchers claim 'chemical conversion efficiencies approaching 96%,' as well as tolerance for deliberately high-CO2 environments."

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Interesting for sealed environments? (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524556)

I wonder if this has implications for making closed ecological systems easier?

Wikipedia claims that plants only have something like a 3-6% photosynthetic efficiency.

Misleading headline (3, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524962)

TFA is so brief that we might as well just post it:

We present a cell-free artificial photosynthesis platform that couples the requisite enzymes of the Calvin cycle with a nanoscale photophosphorylation system engineered into a foam architecture using the Tngara frog surfactant protein Ranaspumin-2. This unique protein surfactant allowed lipid vesicles and coupled enzyme activity to be concentrated to the microscale Plateau channels of the foam, directing photoderived chemical energy to the singular purpose of carbon fixation and sugar synthesis, with chemical conversion efficiencies approaching 96%.

If I'm reading that right, the frog connection isn't really part of the photosynthesis cycle. It's there to provide more surface area and channel the various bits of the reaction together, but the reaction itself is well known. It's part of the regular plant-based photosynthesis.

So it's a nice bit of chemical engineering, but the headline "frog foam photosynthesis" is deeply misleading: the frogs don't photosynthesize, and one of their chemicals is being put to a novel purpose.

Re:Misleading headline (5, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525430)

TFA is actually a six-page article behind a paywall, but everyone can get a 13 page PDF with the supplementary information, (most of which is pretty Greek to me as a non-bio geek) behind the "Supporting Info" link [acs.org] .

If I read the article correctly, this research group had already got 95% efficiency using a different kind of foam, it's just that this frog-protein-foam enables more sugar to be generated before the foam breaks. OTOH, I'm pretty sure I'm not really qualified to even have an opinion.

And judging from the summary of the article, the researchers are not expecting this to be able to be more efficient than the most efficient plants. So that 95% number is just not comparable to the maybe 10% photosynthetic yield of the best plants from sunlight because it's measuring something different.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525634)

Unfortunately, that link is basically a "materials and methods" section. Anybody got $30 to dump?

Off topic - I just hate it when we get links like this and further I hate it when the idiot publishers want anywhere between $30 and $50 to just look at a single article. If it was a more reasonable value, say $5, I might just go ahead and pay it - but the current pricing structure is just too steep to make a whole lot of sense.

Re:Misleading headline (4, Funny)

dan828 (753380) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525710)

OTOH, I'm pretty sure I'm not really qualified to even have an opinion.

You must be new here.

Here's a longer article from the University (4, Informative)

bruce_the_moose (621423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525840)

University of Cincinnati [uc.edu] article about frog foam and photsynthesis.

Re:Here's a longer article from the University (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525998)

YES! That article is definitely interesting. Thanks for posting that.

Re:Here's a longer article from the University (1)

fatray (160258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31526612)

That is an interesting article, but it talks about trapping the algae in the foam, while TFA talks about just trapping the enzymes in the foam without algae cells. Either way, this is pretty interesting stuff. Trapping the algae in the foam means that you lose energy to the algae maintaining itself, but going the cell-free way means that you have to come up with the enzymes needed to start the process and to make up enzyme losses.

first (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525586)

you lick the frog...

Re:first (2, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525992)

.. licking the frog is ok. You see, we use only the finest baby frogs, dew-picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in the finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope, and lovingly frosted with glucose.

I guess with this frog-based foam, they've just put the finishing touches on the lightest of sugary whipped fondant frog confection.

Re:first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31526250)

But if you're a girl, you're supposed to kiss it.

Nothing to add but... (1)

bgarcia (33222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525716)

ribbit!

average usability time? (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 4 years ago | (#31526006)

If it decays after a couple minutes, I will not be impressed.

Photosynthesis Space Stations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31526020)

If this process could provide high amounts of photosynthesis in or near zero gravity. Then it could be intermingled with a hydroponics dome in a space station, creating long term food.

In a space stations' hydroponic dome, put this foam in a holding tank with reflective mirrors along the side walls and submerged inside the foam. Then place focal mirrors to beam sun light directly into the tank. Using photo sensitive circuitry to adjust mirrors for the right amount of sun light.

Hrm... (2, Insightful)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31526632)

So frog foam converts light and CO2 into sugar, and yeast converts sugar to alcohol and CO2, it stands to reason that light is alcohol. Now I understand why they call it Light Beer!

Re:Hrm... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31527650)

Protip: E = mc^2

Re:Hrm... (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531788)

Extra Light Beer = mc^2 ?

Foam Foam Photosynthesis? (0)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31528754)

Phenomenally fantastic!

What is the quantum efficiency? (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540860)

They say "96% efficient" but they are talking about the efficiency of converting from "captured solar energy" to "chemical energy". By "captured solar energy" biologists usually are talking about the "quantum efficiency" of photosynthesis -- that is -- the percent of photon energy converted into electron energy available for the chemical conversion process. So, if you have a 100% quantum efficiency, the total photosynthetic efficiency will be 96% but if your quantum efficiency is 1% then total photosynthetic efficiency will be less than 1%.

Of course NONE of the "science reporting" articles give the quantum efficiency, and the actual journal article costs $30.

You can find a paper in WSEAS Transactions (1)

Operonbionic (1739672) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541388)

A similar paper had been published in the WSEAS TRANSACTIONS on ENVIRONMENT and DEVELOPMENT in 2006. I do not remember exactly this paper but it was also about photosynthesis from a high-surface-area foam containing enzymes that produce sugar using light and CO2 ....

WSEAS Transactions ED or WSEAS Trans on Biology (1)

Operonbionic (1739672) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541488)

A similar paper have been published in the WSEAS TRANSACTIONS on ENVIRONMENT and DEVELOPMENT in 2006 or WSEAS Transactions on Biology. I do not remember exactly this paper but it was also about photosynthesis from a high-surface-area foam containing enzymes that produce sugar using light and CO2 ....
However, these good ideas are in the imagination of the scientists until and I do not believe that they will realize them before 2030. Maybe, we will need more time to see them in our real life.

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