Engineering Subcellular Modules for Photosynthetic Productivity

This group of projects is centered on energy capture and transformation at the molecular and cellular levels in cyanobacteria. 

We are addressing key questions in photosynthetic energy capture and storage using concepts borrowed from engineering, including modularity.   Modules are generally components or subsystems of a larger system.   In biology, depending on the degree of resolution, modules include protein domains, co-regulated genes and operons, pathways, and compartments.  By virtue of their potential for “plug and play” into new contexts, modules can be viewed as units of both evolution and engineering.

Our overall aim is to gain a fundamental mechanistic understanding of the structure and function of photosynthetic modules involved in both light harvesting and CO2 fixation.   We can apply this knowledge to engineer and recombine modules, and the requisite means of communication between them, to improve capture and conversion of bioenergy.  Accordingly, our project focuses on structure/function studies that will ultimately allow us to repurpose natural building blocks such as protein domains and compartments into designed modules for the building of new biological parts and devices to improve photosynthetic productivity in cyanobacteria and plants.

 

Primary Research Groups Involved: