GTAC – Introduction to Photosynthesis on YouTube
Tony, from GTAC, demonstrated a photosynthesis experiment in which equal quantities of spinach leaves were placed in four clear, closed containers. Each container was subjected to light of the same intensity, but one had no filter (control) and the other three were wrapped in coloured cellophane (red, blue and green, as shown above). The coloured cellophane filters out different wavelengths of light, so the red cellophane reflects red wavelengths and allows other wavelengths to pass through. Each container had two probes, measuring oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations in parts per million (ppm). What would you expect to happen in the cellophane-covered containers compared to the control?
Tony was also able to answer two questions that students have about DNA transcription.
(1) Where does the mRNA molecule go after transcription? “A single mRNA can be translated many times by ribosomes into polypeptides (it’s one way a cellular response dependent on gene expression can be amplified). After that mRNA is degraded, releasing individual nucleotides which can then be recycled into new mRNA. In eukaryotic cells, the mRNA is protected by the 5’ methylguanosine cap and the 3’ poly-A tail. When these are removed from the ends, presumably in response to an intracellular signal that says the mRNA is no longer required, the mRNA becomes susceptible to degradation.”
(2) When and where does transcription occur? “I would say transcription (the process by which the mRNA is first made from DNA template) occurs in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells almost continuously but the genes being expressed change throughout the cell cycle and in response to stimuli. For example, genes relevant to growth may be transcribed during G phases. A special set of genes relevant to DNA synthesis are transcribed during S phase. If a (stem) cell received a differentiation signal, a relevant set of genes would be switched on for differentiation into a particular cell type. I would say the only time transcription ceases is when the chromosomes condense for mitosis and cytokinesis. Essential proteins are still around to ensure cell division proceeds as intended. After cell division and the chromosomes de-condense, it’s back to business as usual.”
Thanks Tony for these valuable extensions to our Year 12 Biology program at Hawkesdale P12 College.