Christiane Funk: Green - the colour of photosynthesis
Sunlight is the origin of nearly all the metabolic energy that drives life processes; the oil we use, all the food we eat and the oxygen we breath origins from photosynthesis. Plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria are responsible for the conversion of solar energy into chemical forms that are used by all organisms. The first step of the photosynthetic process is the harvesting of the sun light performed by pigments, chlorophyll and carotenoids.
All these pigments are bound to proteins. The main purpose of the proteins is to keep the pigments in their proper location and orientation, so that energy transfer is efficient. However, light energy, that is not used in the photosynthetic process, can be given to oxygen and damage the cell (photooxidative activity), therefore the assembly of pigment-binding proteins has to be tightly regulated: Too few chlorophyll molecules will destabilize the proteins, they will be degraded. Too much chlorophyll molecules will lead to oxygen radicals and damage the cell. We are interested in the assembly and degradation of these pigment-binding proteins.
Organisms: The cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, the cryptomonad algae Guillardia theta, the annual plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the tree Populus.
For more information: http://www.upsc.se/Research/Associated-Projects/christiane-funk-project-page.html