Unraveling inefficiencies of photosynthesis in a changing world
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants and algae are using sun light energy to transform CO2 into biomass. Because photosynthesis is using a sustainable source of energy (sun light) and consumes the green house gas CO2 it holds great potential for becoming the center of the future bioeconomy. However, it's efficiency in transforming light energy to biomass is quite low (2-5%) and diminishes when acclimating to environmental fluctuations. Which hampers our ability to use it for biomanufacturing biofuels, pharmaceuticals or bioplastics. Our group will explore the mechanisms by which photosynthesis acclimates to environmental changes like light availability, CO2 concentration or temperature and pinpoint what mechanisms are generating inefficiences during photosynthesis.
To this end, we will be using the model green microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, eventually expanding our acquired knowledge on other algae and on higher plants like Arabidopsis thaliana.
Our questions and goals: How are microalgae dynamically reacting to environmental fluctuations? How do molecular mechanisms of photosynthesis dynamically interact to optimise cell survival and growth under fluctuating conditions? What genes are important for acclimation to such fluctuations? Are these mechanisms equally efficient for allowing CO2 fixation? Can we modify key enzymes to make photosynthesis more efficient in some environments?
While we will focus mostly on research at the Carnegie Institution, we of the Burlacot Lab recognise that we are in a diverse community and must take actions to ensure that everybody is treated equally and has equal access to academic opportunities. We acknowledge that we must act now to combat social inequalities, racism, sexism and any form of discrimination. We will contribute to fighting discriminations within science and academia and promote the path of people from underrepresented background in academia.
We aim to actively take part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commitement of the Carnegie Institution for science in this way.
Carnegie Institution for Science
Department of Plant Biology
260 Panama street,
Stanford, CA 94305