Burlacot Lab

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.


2024 07 The huge collaborative paper led by Liat, discovering a new transporter tuning photosynthesis in algae has been accepted in Plant Physiology!

2024 06 Adrien is recognized by the American Society of Plant Biologists as a "rising star in plant science" and presents the work of the lab as a plenary speaker at the ASPB annual meeting in Hawaii.

2024 06 Work of the lab describing the energetic circuits sustaining CO2 fixation is published in The Plant Cell

2024 06 Collaborative paper lead by Rui Miao (Upsalla University, Sweden) on the role of alkenes during photosynthesis is out in Plant Physiology

2024 06 Adrien is invited at the North American Photosynthesis Conference to showcase the latest results from the lab

2024 05 Collaborative paper lead by Dania Nanes Sarfati from Stanford University is now out in Nature Communications

2024 04 Liat receives the prestigious Stanford Energy Fellowship to work in the lab on the sub-cellular energetics of the CCM

2024 03 Liat and Adrien show Chlorophyll fluorescence to children at the 4th STEM Frenzy festival in San Francisco

2024 03 Collaborative paper lead by Justin Findinier from Carnegie in BioRxiv: "Dramatic Changes in Mitochondrial Subcellular Location and Morphology Accompany Activation of the CO2 Concentrating Mechanism"

2024 03 A collaborative review on respiratory role during photosynthesis led by Adrien and Ginga Shimakawa (Kwansei-Gakuin University, Japan) is now out in the Journal of Bioscience

2024 03 Adrien speaks at the Night of Ideas in San Francisco on the importance of oceans for carbone fixation

2023 12 Collaborative paper lead by Rui Miao from Upsalla University in BioRxiv: "Alka(e)nes contribute to membrane lipid homeostasis and resilience of photosynthesis to high light in cyanobacteria"

2023 12 Adrien is featured in the podcast "Eat your Greens" and talks about microalgal photosynthesis and it's role for sustainability.

2023 11 Adrien presents in Pasadena how principles of microalgal photosynthesis could impact food productivity and develop new CO2 capture technologies.

2023 11 Adrien  is a finalist of the 2023 New Phytologist Tansley Medal competition for excellence in plant science. 

2023 11 Huge collaborative paper lead by lab member Liat Adler in BioRxiv: "The role of BST4 in the pyrenoid of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii" providing new insights on the functioning of CO2 concentrating mechanisms in algae!

2023 10 Perspective on the mutliple roles of alternative photosynthetic electron flow published in New Phytologist by Adrien! 

2023 09 The lab starts it's largest experiment ever to quantify how much proteins in Chlamydomonas are important to balance robustness and efficiency during light fluctuations

2023 09 The lab receives support from the US Department of Energy through a collaborative project led by Arthur Grossman (Carnegie Institution for Science, CA, USA).

2023 08 New work from the lab experimentally unraveling the bioenergetics of CO2 fixation published in BioRxiv! 

2023 07 Adrien shows to MIT Chemists how microalgae fix CO2

2023 06 Collaborative paper lead by Dania Nanes Sarfati from Stanford University in BioRxiv "Coordinated wound responses in a regenerative animal-algal photosymbiotic metaorganism"

2023 04 New paper on the energetic network of the CCM published in Trends in Plant Science!

Press release here

2022 11 Adrien and Carolyne go on a trip in California to discover new microalgae

2022 09 Adrien gives a science popularization talk at the Learning Planet Institute in Paris

Link to the video (in French)

2022 07 New study from the lab on the role of photoprotection published in Plant Cell and Environment !

2022 04 New discovery on the enegization of the CO2  concentrating mechanism in Nature!

Press release here

2022 01 A new publication from our lab aimed for young student!

2021 11 Our lab participated to the nightlife at the Cal Academy of Science

Our location: 

Burlacot Lab
Carnegie Institution for Science
Department of Plant Biology
260 Panama street,
Stanford, CA 94305

All algal bloom pictures in this page are taken from the NASA Wordlview application, part of the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).