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  • Author: H. KAHMANN x
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Three months old plants of the Chinese tung-oil tree Aleurites montana (Euphorbiaceae) were cultivated for 4 months in air containing 700 ppm CO2. These plants, which grow substantially better in the CO2-enriched atmosphere, were analyzed by mass spectrometry for photosynthesis and photorespiration together with control plants grown all the time in normal (350 ppm CO2) air. Thereafter part of the plants was subjected for two weeks to 0.3 ppm SO2 in the atmosphere and again analyzed for photosynthesis and photorespiration. Aleurites montana exhibits a strongly CO2-dependent photosynthesis which partially explains the observed stimulatory effect of 700 ppm CO2 on growth of the plant. In control plants grown in normal air, photorespiration measured simultaneously with photosynthesis via the uptake of l80 2 in the light, is much lower than in C3-plants like tobacco (H e et al., 1995, Z. Naturforsch. 50c, 781-788 ). In Aleurites grown in 700 ppm CO2, however, photorespiration is completely absent in contrast to tobacco when grown under 700 ppm CO2. In tobacco, photorespiration is not inhibited to the extent of the in vitro experiments in which plants grown at 350 ppm CO2 are measured under the increased CO2 content of 700 ppm. Gas exchange measurements carried out by mass spectrometry show that the ratio of O2 evolved to CO2 fixed is about 0.5. Apparently, part of the CO2 fixed is channelled into a metabolic path without concomitant O2-evolution. Although the plant has no succulent appearance (its leaves somehow resemble maple leaves) apparently a Crassulacean type metabolism is performed. When Aleurites plants grown all the time in normal air with 350 ppm, are exposed for two weeks to 0.3 ppm SO2 the treatment completely inhibits this CO2-fixing portion which is tentatively attributed to a Crassulacean type of metabolism. This is demonstrated by a normal C3-type ratio O2 evolved /CO2 fixed of 1. When Aleurites plants, grown for 4 months in a CO2-enriched atmosphere of 700 ppm CO2, are subjected for two weeks to 0.3 ppm SO2, the features of control plants show up again. When these plants are tested under 350 ppm CO2 the Crassulacean type CO2-fixation apparently is not inhibited by SO2. Photorespiration, although low, is present in the same activity as in the controls. Seemingly, an increased level of CO2 in air tends to alleviate the impact of the SO2 at least in the Chinese tung-oil tree.

High-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) has emerged as one of the most versatile tools for the quantitative study of structure, kinetics, and thermodynamics of biomolecules and their interactions at atomic resolution. Traditionally, nuclear Overhauser enhancements (NOEs) and chemical shift perturbation methods are used to determine molecular geometries and to identify contact surfaces, but more recently, weak anisotropic orientation, anisotropic diffusion, and scalar couplings across hydrogen bonds provide additional information.

Examples of such technologies are shown as applied to the quantitative characterization of function and thermodynamics of several biomacromolecules. In particular, (1) the structural and dynamical changes of the TipA multidrug resistance protein are followed upon antibiotic binding, (2) the trimer-monomer equilibrium and thermal unfolding of foldon, a small and very efficient trimerization domain of the T4 phagehead, is described in atomic detail, and (3) the changes of individual protein hydrogen bonds during thermal unfolding are quantitatively followed by scalar couplings across hydrogen bonds.