Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > The inner workings of a bacterial black box caught on time-lapse video

This figure demonstrates the steps researchers took to visualize carboxysome assembly. The critical genes (ccm operon) is deleted, which leads to a generation of cyanobacteria with no carboxysomes. These bacteria require high CO2 levels to survive. When the missing genes were introduced, researchers were able to watch rarely seen intermediate steps of carboxysome assembly.

Credit: Elsevier
This figure demonstrates the steps researchers took to visualize carboxysome assembly. The critical genes (ccm operon) is deleted, which leads to a generation of cyanobacteria with no carboxysomes. These bacteria require high CO2 levels to survive. When the missing genes were introduced, researchers were able to watch rarely seen intermediate steps of carboxysome assembly.

Credit: Elsevier

Abstract:
Cyanobacteria, found in just about every ecosystem on Earth, are one of the few bacteria that can create their own energy through photosynthesis and "fix" carbon - from carbon dioxide molecules - and convert it into fuel inside of miniscule compartments called carboxysomes. Using a pioneering visualization method, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) made what are, in effect, movies of this complex and vital cellular machinery being assembled inside living cells. They observed that bacteria build these internal compartments in a way never seen in plant, animal and other eukaryotic cells.



Movie: After "turning on" the critical genes, the cyanobacteria began to construct carboxysomes out of fluorescent-tagged materials. The video is composed of still-images taken every three minutes, starting two hours after genes were induced.

Credit: Jeffrey Cameron and Cheryl Kerfeld.

The inner workings of a bacterial black box caught on time-lapse video

Walnut Creek, CA | Posted on November 25th, 2013

"The carboxysome, unlike eukaryotic organelles, assembles from the inside out," said senior author Cheryl Kerfeld, formerly of the DOE JGI, now at Michigan State University and UC Berkeley. The findings, published November 21, 2013 in the journal Cell, will illuminate bacterial physiology and may also influence nanotechnology development.

Although cyanobacteria are often called blue-green algae, that name is a misnomer since algae have complex membrane-bound compartments called organelles -- including chloroplasts -- which carry out photosynthesis, while cyanobacteria, like all other bacteria, lack membrane-bound organelles. Much of their cellular machinery - including their DNA - floats in the cell's cytoplasm unconstrained by membranes. However, they do have rudimentary microcompartments where some specialized tasks happen.

Looking a lot like the multi-faceted envelopes of viruses, carboxysomes are icosahedral, having about 20 triangle-shaped sides or facets. They contain copious amounts of Ribulose 1,5 Biphosphate Carboxylase Oxygenase (commonly called RuBisCo), an extremely abundant but slow enzyme required to fix carbon, inside their protein shells. The microcompartment also helps concentrate carbon dioxide and corral it near RuBisCo, while locking out oxygen, which otherwise tends to inhibit the chemical reactions involved in carbon-fixation.

Because they are so abundant, cyanobacteria play a major role in the earth's carbon cycle, the movement of carbon between the air, sea and land. "A significant fraction of global carbon fixation takes place in carboxysomes," said Kerfeld. Cyanobacteria, along with plants, impact climate change by lowering the amount of carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in organic matter in the ocean and on land.

In order to track carboxysome assembly, the first author, Jeffrey Cameron, developed what Kerfeld called "an inducible system to turn on carboxysome biogenesis." He first developed mutant strains of a Synechococcus cyanobacterium that had its genes for building carboxysomes intentionally broken and then introduced the products of each of the knocked-out genes, which had been tagged with a fluorescent marker. He captured time-lapse digital images of the bacteria - a technique called time-lapse microscopy -- as they used the glowing building blocks and incorporated them into their new carboxysomes. The research team also painstakingly took high resolution still photographs using a transmission electron microscope of the intermediate stages of carboxysome construction. With these detailed images, they were able to provide a specific role for each product of each knocked-out gene, along with a timeline for how the bacteria built its carboxysomes. The team also suggested that other bacteria might build different types of microcompartments the same way carboxysomes are built, from the inside out.

It's the first time scientists have been able to watch bacterial organelles as they are built by living cells. Kerfeld noted that not only is the filming technique a major advance over previous methods, but that there are far-reaching implications for this work.

"The results provide clues to the organization of the enzymes encapsulated in the carboxysome and how this enhances CO2 fixation," said Kerfeld. Moreover, not only do the findings help researchers better understand how this previously mysterious compartment works, they can adapt what Kerfeld's team has learned about carboxysome architecture and apply it to designing synthetic nano-scale reactors. Understanding carbon-fixation in cyanobacteria contributes to our understanding of how this ubiquitous organism affects the global carbon cycle.

####

About DOE/Joint Genome Institute
The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, supported by the DOE Office of Science, is committed to advancing genomics in support of DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. DOE JGI, headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., provides integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis that enable systems-based scientific approaches to these challenges. Follow @doe_jgi on Twitter.

DOE's Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Gilbert

925-296-5643

Copyright © DOE/Joint Genome Institute

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Leti Develops World’s First Micro-Coolers for CERN Particle Detectors: Leti Design, Fabrication and Packaging Expertise Extends to Very Large Scientific Instruments December 11th, 2017

UCLA chemists synthesize narrow ribbons of graphene using only light and heat: Tiny structures could be next-generation solution for smaller electronic devices December 8th, 2017

Untangling DNA: Researchers filter the entropy out of nanopore measurements December 8th, 2017

Device makes power conversion more efficient: New design could dramatically cut energy waste in electric vehicles, data centers, and the power grid December 8th, 2017

Videos/Movies

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

A new way to mix oil and water: Condensation-based method developed at MIT could create stable nanoscale emulsions November 8th, 2017

Luleĺ University of Technology is using the Deben CT5000TEC stage to perform x-ray microtomography experiments with the ZEISS Xradia 510 Versa to understand deformation and strain inside inhomogeneous materials November 7th, 2017

Graphene enables high-speed electronics on flexible materials: A flexible terahertz detector has been developed by Chalmers using graphene transistors on plastic substrates. It is the first of its kind, and may open for applications requiring flexible electronics such as wireless October 31st, 2017

Nanotube fiber antennas as capable as copper: Rice University researchers show their flexible fibers work well but weigh much less October 23rd, 2017

Laboratories

Ames Laboratory, UConn discover superconductor with bounce October 25th, 2017

Nanotube fiber antennas as capable as copper: Rice University researchers show their flexible fibers work well but weigh much less October 23rd, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Wheat gets boost from purified nanotubes: Rice University toxicity study shows plant growth enhanced by -- but only by -- purified nanotubes December 6th, 2017

Arrowhead Presents New Clinical Data Demonstrating a Sustained Host Response in Hepatitis B Patients Following RNAi Therapy — Up to 5.0 log10 reduction in HBsAg observed; data presented at HEP DART 2017 — December 6th, 2017

Chinese market opens up for Carbodeon nanodiamonds: Carbodeon granted Chinese Patent for Nanodiamond-containing Thermoplastic Thermal Compounds December 4th, 2017

Researchers advance technique to detect ovarian cancer: Rice, MD Anderson use fluorescent carbon nanotube probes to achieve first in vivo success November 30th, 2017

Discoveries

UCLA chemists synthesize narrow ribbons of graphene using only light and heat: Tiny structures could be next-generation solution for smaller electronic devices December 8th, 2017

Untangling DNA: Researchers filter the entropy out of nanopore measurements December 8th, 2017

Device makes power conversion more efficient: New design could dramatically cut energy waste in electric vehicles, data centers, and the power grid December 8th, 2017

Wheat gets boost from purified nanotubes: Rice University toxicity study shows plant growth enhanced by -- but only by -- purified nanotubes December 6th, 2017

Announcements

Leti Develops World’s First Micro-Coolers for CERN Particle Detectors: Leti Design, Fabrication and Packaging Expertise Extends to Very Large Scientific Instruments December 11th, 2017

UCLA chemists synthesize narrow ribbons of graphene using only light and heat: Tiny structures could be next-generation solution for smaller electronic devices December 8th, 2017

Untangling DNA: Researchers filter the entropy out of nanopore measurements December 8th, 2017

Device makes power conversion more efficient: New design could dramatically cut energy waste in electric vehicles, data centers, and the power grid December 8th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

UCLA chemists synthesize narrow ribbons of graphene using only light and heat: Tiny structures could be next-generation solution for smaller electronic devices December 8th, 2017

Device makes power conversion more efficient: New design could dramatically cut energy waste in electric vehicles, data centers, and the power grid December 8th, 2017

Creating a new kind of metallic glass December 7th, 2017

Copper will replace toxic palladium and expensive platinum in the synthesis of medications: The effectiveness of copper nanoparticles as a catalyst has been proven December 5th, 2017

Environment

Silicon Sense first to achieve EPA approval to import detonation nanodiamonds to US: Nanodiamond additives can significantly improve the performance of metal finishing, polymer thermal and mechanical compounds, polymer coatings, CMP polishing and a range of other applications November 29th, 2017

Report highlights opportunities and risks associated with synthetic biology and bioengineering November 22nd, 2017

Dendritic fibrous nanosilica: all-in-one nanomaterial for energy, environment and health November 4th, 2017

Nano-sized gold particles have been shaped to behave as clones in biomedicine November 3rd, 2017

Energy

Inorganic-organic halide perovskites for new photovoltaic technology November 6th, 2017

Dendritic fibrous nanosilica: all-in-one nanomaterial for energy, environment and health November 4th, 2017

New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater: Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions October 4th, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

Nanobiotechnology

Arrowhead Presents New Clinical Data Demonstrating a Sustained Host Response in Hepatitis B Patients Following RNAi Therapy — Up to 5.0 log10 reduction in HBsAg observed; data presented at HEP DART 2017 — December 6th, 2017

Going swimmingly: Biotemplates breakthrough paves way for cheaper nanobots: By using bacterial flagella as a template for silica, researchers have demonstrated an easier way to make propulsion systems for nanoscale swimming robots November 30th, 2017

Drug-delivering nanoparticles seek and destroy elusive cancer stem cells November 28th, 2017

Graphene oxide making any material suitable to create biosensors: Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University have developed a new tool for biomedical research focused on single-cell investigation November 27th, 2017

Research partnerships

Wheat gets boost from purified nanotubes: Rice University toxicity study shows plant growth enhanced by -- but only by -- purified nanotubes December 6th, 2017

Copper will replace toxic palladium and expensive platinum in the synthesis of medications: The effectiveness of copper nanoparticles as a catalyst has been proven December 5th, 2017

Researchers advance technique to detect ovarian cancer: Rice, MD Anderson use fluorescent carbon nanotube probes to achieve first in vivo success November 30th, 2017

Tiny robots step closer to treating hard-to-reach parts of the body November 25th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project