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  1. Many eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms enhance their carbon uptake by supplying concentrated CO2 to the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco in an organelle called the pyrenoid. Ongoing efforts seek to engineer this pyrenoid-based CO2-concentrating mechanism (PCCM) into crops to increase yields. Here we develop a computational model for a PCCM on the basis of the postulated mechanism in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Our model recapitulates all Chlamydomonas PCCM-deficient mutant phenotypes and yields general biophysical principles underlying the PCCM. We show that an effective and energetically efficient PCCM requires a physical barrier to reduce pyrenoid CO2 leakage, as well as proper enzyme localizationmore »to reduce futile cycling between CO2 and HCO3−. Importantly, our model demonstrates the feasibility of a purely passive CO2 uptake strategy at air-level CO2, while active HCO3− uptake proves advantageous at lower CO2 levels. We propose a four-step engineering path to increase the rate of CO2 fixation in the plant chloroplast up to threefold at a theoretical cost of only 1.3 ATP per CO2 fixed, thereby offering a framework to guide the engineering of a PCCM into land plants.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 19, 2023
  2. Quorum sensing (QS) is a process of chemical communication bacteria use to transition between individual and collective behaviors. QS depends on the production, release, and synchronous response to signaling molecules called autoinducers (AIs). The marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi monitors AIs using a signal transduction pathway that relies on five small regulatory RNAs (called Qrr1-5) that post-transcriptionally control target genes. Curiously, the small RNAs largely function redundantly making it difficult to understand the necessity for five of them. Here, we identify LuxT as a transcriptional repressor of qrr1. LuxT does not regulate qrr2-5, demonstrating that qrr genes can be independently controlledmore »to drive unique downstream QS gene expression patterns. LuxT reinforces its control over the same genes it regulates indirectly via repression of qrr1, through a second transcriptional control mechanism. Genes dually regulated by LuxT specify public goods including an aerolysin-type pore-forming toxin. Phylogenetic analyses reveal that LuxT is conserved among Vibrionaceae and sequence comparisons predict that LuxT represses qrr1 in additional species. The present findings reveal that the QS regulatory RNAs can carry out both shared and unique functions to endow bacteria with plasticity in their output behaviors.« less
  3. Bacterial cells can self-organize into structured communities at fluid-fluid interfaces. These soft, living materials composed of cells and extracellular matrix are called pellicles. Cells residing in pellicles garner group-level survival advantages such as increased antibiotic resistance. The dynamics of pellicle formation and, more generally, how complex morphologies arise from active biomaterials confined at interfaces are not well understood. Here, using Vibrio cholerae as our model organism, a custom-built adaptive stereo microscope, fluorescence imaging, mechanical theory, and simulations, we report a fractal wrinkling morphogenesis program that differs radically from the well-known coalescence of wrinkles into folds that occurs in passive thinmore »films at fluid-fluid interfaces. Four stages occur: growth of founding colonies, onset of primary wrinkles, development of secondary curved ridge instabilities, and finally the emergence of a cascade of finer structures with fractal-like scaling in wavelength. The time evolution of pellicle formation depends on the initial heterogeneity of the film microstructure. Changing the starting bacterial seeding density produces three variations in the sequence of morphogenic stages, which we term the bypass, crystalline, and incomplete modes. Despite these global architectural transitions, individual microcolonies remain spatially segregated, and thus the community maintains spatial and genetic heterogeneity. Our results suggest that the memory of the original microstructure is critical in setting the morphogenic dynamics of a pellicle as an active biomaterial.« less