Responding to changing light in algae
Photosynthetic organisms depend on light for growth and must maximize its use. However excess light causes cell damage and possible death due to photo-oxidative stress. Thus each cell must respond efficiently to minimize damage, repair and simultaneously maximize the use of light under constantly changing light.
I am interested in understanding the mechanisms and signaling involved in the modulation of photoprotection and repair. I have used genomic, genetic, molecular biology and biochemical techniques to interrogate these processes in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The newly available algal genomes such as those of Chromochloris zofingiensis and Nannochloropsis oceanica and their emerging molecular tools will aid in advancing the discovery of genes involved in photoprotection and photosynthesis.
Biomineralization in algae
One can easily appreciate land plants as main players of photosynthesis but in fact nearly half of Earth’s photosynthesis is attributed to the microscopic phytoplankton in the oceans. A dominant group of oceanic algae, diatoms, have a unique type of cell wall that uses one of the most abundant elements, Si. As such, diatoms not only have a large impact on carbon fixation but also on the biogeochemical cycling of Si. I am interested in understanding the molecular process of Si biomineralization in algae by studying the model diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana and another fresh water stramenopile, Synura petersenii using molecular, genetic, and genomic approaches.