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Biotech Earth Science

Frog Foam Photosynthesis 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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Frog Foam Photosynthesis

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  • Misleading headline (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:33PM (#31524962) Homepage Journal

    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:first (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:44PM (#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.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault