Methanol and improved yields

Lawrence London Lawrence.London at bbs.oit.unc.edu
Fri Oct 30 21:00:26 EST 1992


In article <1992Oct30.161544.12654 at mail.cornell.edu> Thomas Bjorkman <Thomas_Bjorkman at cornell.edu> writes:
>
>In article <1992Oct23.022535.17164 at samba.oit.unc.edu> Larry London,
>london at calypso.uucp writes:
>>In article <1992Oct20.141824.7870 at iscsvax.uni.edu> klier at iscsvax.uni.edu
>writes:
>>>CO2.  I haven't seen the original paper (just the blurb in Sci News)-
>
>I have just read the original article in PNAS.  I am surprised at how
>little it adds to the LA Times clipping I read about it.
>
>The gist is that under conditions when photorespiration occurs, methanol
>helps.  Normally Rubisco, the enzyme responsible for fixing carbon
>dioxide also fixes a certain amount of oxygen creating products that take
>energy to get back to the starting point.  That is wasteful.  What they
>speculate the following:  methanol will bind the enzyme in place of
>oxygen.  The result is photosynthesis  by CO2 fixation and also methanol
>fixation but no photorespiration.
>
>One curious thing:  Andy Benson knows photosynthesis like nobody's
>business.  In fact the biochemical pathway of photosynthesis is called
>the Calvin-Benson cycle.  So why didn't they measure the biochemistry of
>methanol fixation since at least one of the authors is as good as anybody
>at figuring out the biochemistry?
>
>Along more practical lines, it seems that the increased turgor is caused
>by the higher photosynthesis making more sugar in the "noonday sun", so
>that there is more osmotic pressure and thus turgor.  Sounds OK, but
>there are not direct data.
>
>Getting even more practical...
>If you are growing tomatoes or watermelons in the Arizona summer you have
>to water.  From a resource use standpoint, you can apparently cut down on
>water use by spraying methanol which is a benefit.  It also seems that it
>is beneficial from an energy standpoint in that the energy value of the
>methanol that is sprayed on the plants is likely to be less than the
>energy required to pump the extra water.
>
>Now about those explosions:  for most of the tender-leaved vegetables,
>10-15% methanol in water was about right.  That is not going to burn.  As
>with _any_ spray material, it is appropriate to wear a mask to keep it
>out of your lungs (this even applies with water), and to spray when there
>is no wind.
>
>In summary, this is pretty weird stuff, but there is some plausibility. 
>If it is right, there should be some benefits, but it is hardly a
>panacea.  It really reminds me of another genius with some way-out
>ideas...Linus Pauling and Vitamin C. 
>-------------------
>Thomas Bjorkman
>Horticultural Sciences Department
>Cornell University
>Thomas_Bjorkman at cornell.edu


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