In photosynthesis sunlight is converted into organic compounds disposable for the majority of the living organisms. In green algae and plants this process takes place in the thylakoid membranes of a specific organelle, the chloroplast. The first two steps in photosynthesis are the capture of light by light-harvesting antenna complexes and energy transfer to reaction centres, where light is converted into chemical energy. Reaction centres and antenna complexes are composed of multiple copies of pigment-containing subunits. Study of antenna subunits is of keen interest because of their key role in light harvesting regulation. This is important for both optimal growth and preventing damage of the photosynthetic apparatus, which easily occurs under stress conditions.
The molecular basis of light capture and dissipation of excess of absorbed light, mediated by antennae, are investigated in this piece of work by integrating molecular biology, biochemistry and spectroscopy approaches. The developed techniques and obtained results can be used as a starting point for further investigating interactions and energy transfer between photosynthetic subunits. Optimisation of antenna composition is useful for progressing towards artificial photosynthesis and bio-fuel production. Moreover, we identified functionally conserved pigment-binding protein domains in differentially evolved photosynthetic organisms. These domains are proposed to be the keystones of photoprotection, which is an indispensable response of photosynthetic organisms exposed to stress conditions.
Date and time: 22 februari 2008, 14.45 uur
Dissertation: Functional architecture of photosynthetic light harvesting complexes
Promotor: prof. E.J. Boekema
Faculty: mathematical and natural sciences
M. Mozzo, tel. 050-363 7225, e-mail:
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