Structural and functional characterisation of the photosynthetic apparatus of an extremophilic red microalga Cyanidioschyzon merolae

Project Leader: Prof. Joanna Kargul Project period: 2015 - 2019
Project funding: OPUS 8, NCN
Project description:

The sun powers almost all life on earth via photosynthesis. Solar energy conversion is one of the few renewable ways to produce clean energy to meet the increasing demands of modern civilization. In the era of global climate change, there is a strong need to understand photosynthetic processes and their regulatory basis, particularly as they relate to extreme conditions and potential solar fuel production.

Our long term research objectives are threefold:

(1) understand the mechanisms of photosynthetic energy conversion at the molecular level in the extremophilic photosynthetic apparatus,

(2) dissect regulatory mechanisms of adaptation to extreme conditions and fluctuating light, and

(3) construct feasible biohybrid artificial photosynthetic devices that mimic the most crucial steps of the natural process.

The natural photosystems responsible for light capture and energy conversion are complex assemblies of proteins holding pigments and cofactors together to create biological nano-scale solar energy converters. The proteins are more than mere scaffolding: they increase light capture by tuning the colours of the pigments, facilitate photochemistry by controlling the cofactors and are intimately involved in all photosystem reactions.

Solar Fuels Laboratory