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Recording chlorophyll fluorescence in Arabidopsis leaves
Photo: C. Spetea Wiklund
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Regulation of photosynthesis by ion fluxes in a rapidly changing environment

Research project
Active research
Project size
3 083 000
Project period
2021 - 2022
Project owner
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Short description

In natural habitats, plants and algae constantly experience rapid changes in the intensity of sunlight. This research project is dedicated to understand how photosynthesis is regulated in variable light by ion channels and transporters. We use Arabidopsis thaliana and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as model organisms to study the phenotype of loss-of-function mutants using chlorophyll fluorescence, electron microscopy and molecular biology methods. Our findings will allow unravelling novel mechanisms of photosynthetic regulation at molecular and physiological levels, which are important for light acclimation in crop fields and bioenergy production

More about the project

In natural habitats, plants constantly experience rapid changes in the intensity of sunlight. To cope with these changes and maximize growth, plants adjust photosynthetic light utilization in electron transport and photoprotective mechanisms. This involves a proton motive force across the thylakoid membrane, postulated to be affected by ion fluxes (H+, K+, Cl, Mg2 ). In addition, fluxes of ions and water are thought to be involved in osmoregulation, affecting the dynamics of thylakoid membrane ultrastructure.

The identity of the genes involved in K+ and Cl ion fluxes has been recently unravelled, whereas no thylakoid water channel has been found thus far. In the ongoing work we aim to understand how ion and water fluxes operate in regulation of photosynthesis and thylakoid dynamics in a rapidly changing environment. In addition, we aim to identify the algal counterparts of the genes involved in ion fluxes. We use Arabidopsis thaliana and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as model organisms to study the phenotype of single and higher-order loss-of-function mutants using chlorophyll fluorescence, electron microscopy and molecular biology methods.

Our findings will allow unravelling novel mechanisms of photosynthetic regulation at molecular and physiological levels, which are important for light acclimation in crop fields and biofuel production.

Portable device for photosynthetic measurements
Photo: C. Spetea Wiklund

Members

Cornelia Spetea Wiklund, professor
Emilija Dukic, PhD student