AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Calvincycle

The Cyathea Rojasiana: The Little “Fern” that Could (…Survive on its Own)

Have you ever wondered how some plants survive severe environments? Well, the Cyathea rojasiana is a prime example of this, as it can transform dead leaves into roots that keep the plant alive. The article, “Back from the Dead: Tropical Tree Fern Repurposes Dead Leaves” explains this plant and its amazing abilities. Cyathea rojasiana, a unique tree fern from Panema, converts its dead leaves into little roots that seek out nutrient-rich soil.

Cyathea arborea 1

The plant was found by plant biologists, notably Professor James Dalling. According to Dalling, the plant’s process of self-nourishment happens after the leaves have fully died and blended with the soil. The fern then reorganizes its leaves, absorbing nutrients, particularly nitrogen, from the soil via its newly created roots. Furthermore, even though the tree fern’s dead leaves appear to be disintegrating, they’re actually helping the plant survive. Since Panama’s soil is deficient in nutrients, this process is essential to the tree’s survival. 


To continue, after reading the story, I was reminded of the photosynthesis unit I learned in AP Biology. Photosynthesis, in simple terms, is the process by which plants transform light energy into chemical energy in the form of glucose through photosystems (II and I) and the Calvin cycle. Despite their differences, the sentiments remain the same. While the Cyathea rojasiana’s adaptation does not replace photosynthesis, it complements it. The tree obtains nutrients from the soil via its roots, ensuring that it gets the building blocks required for development and survival.

Photosynthesis en

In conclusion, as someone who enjoys planting and loves nature, it was very interesting to learn about this unique tree because it reveals a unique survival skill I was unaware of. The tree has learned to absorb nutrients while growing in soil that lacks nutrients. This shows how well some plants can adjust to harsh conditions, giving ideas for new and creative gardening methods. Additionally, learning about the Cyathea rojasiana provides information that can be used to enhance gardening. So, is this something you want to try and implement into your gardening routine? Let me know in the comments!!


Artificial Photosynthesis

On January 25, 2023, Science Daily released an article about new research discovered by Osaka Metropolitan University regarding the Synthesis of fumaric acid by a new method of artificial photosynthesis, using sunlight to make biodegradable plastic. 

Global warming has caused a growing issue in our environment due to greenhouse gasses such as CO2. This research states that by using artificial photosynthesis CO2 can be reduced, hence limit global warming. This discovery shows that fumaric acid can be synthesized from CO2 and biomass-derived compounds using renewable solar energy.


As we have learned in Biology class, photosynthesis is an anabolic reaction because it builds up glucose, a bigger molecule, from water and carbon dioxide. Although –overall– photosynthesis is an anabolic reaction, catabolic reactions occur throughout photosynthesis because the large molecules, CO2 and H2o are broken down into their individual components- oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen- and then rearranged to create glucose using energy from the sun. In the Calvin Cycle, the goal is to produce G3P, from CO2, which will eventually become glucose, or sugar, however, this can’t be done without NADPH. 


Research discovered by Professor Yutaka Amao, stated that CO2 could be reduced by mimicking this process and can reduce CO2 by combining it with organic compounds. While fumaric acid is typically synthesized from petroleum to be used as a raw material for making biodegradable plastic, this research team was successful in synthesizing fumaric acid,  from CO2, powered by sunlight. This process is known as artificial photosynthesis. 

It is really interesting how mimicking the process of photosynthesis can lead to  CO2 being reduced when combined with organic compounds, and used as raw materials, which can be converted into sustainable structures such as plastic!

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