Breaking news: New type of photosynthesis discovered in cyanobacteria

From the report by Hayley Dunning in (15 June 2018):

“The discovery, published today in Science, was led by Imperial College London, supported by the BBSRC, and involved groups from the ANU in Canberra, the CNRS in Paris and Saclay and the CNR in Milan.

The vast majority of life on Earth uses visible red light in the process of photosynthesis, but the new type uses near-infrared light instead. It was detected in a wide range of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) when they grow in near-infrared light, found in shaded conditions like bacterial mats in Yellowstone and in beach rock in Australia.

As scientists have now discovered, it also occurs in a cupboard fitted with infrared LEDs in Imperial College London.

The discovery changes our understanding of the basic mechanism of photosynthesis and should rewrite the textbooks.”


D.J. Nürnberg, J. Morton, S. Santabarbara, A. Telfer, P. Joliot, L. A. Antonaru, A. V. Ruban, T. Cardona, E. Krausz, A. Boussac, A. Fantuzzi and A. William Rutherford (2018). Photochemistry beyond the red limit in chlorophyll f–containing photosystems. Science  15 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6394, pp. 1210-1213. DOI: 10.1126/science.aar8313

PhD Position: Acclimation of photosynthetic organisms to solar and extrasolar radiation – France

From the description of this PhD position in Université Grenoble Alpes, France:

“How are photoperception and photosynthesis mechanistically interconnected? And how would photosynthetic organisms adapt to a stellar radiation with a spectral energy distribution different than this of earth? To address these questions, we will study the acclimation of the model photosynthetic organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, ancestor of higher plants, to stellar radiation of low and high intensities. We will assess the consequences of the exposure to this peculiar radiation at the level of genome-wide gene expression, photosynthetic activity, growth and cellular ultrastructure, using white visible light, blue and red illumination as reference conditions. Based on our results we are expecting to identify genes or gene-networks that are essential for the successful acclimation to the radiation of different light qualities. Using genome editing tools we will modify genes of interest to potentially generate mutants that will be adapted to type M radiation. The illumination with different light qualities will be achieved by use of LED panels. The expertise of IPAG will be valuable for the construction of a LED- panel mimicking the spectrum to type M radiation.”

Details of this PhD position can be found in the Euraxess page.

PhD student position in Czech Republic- Trichodesmium

The Department of Plant Biophysics and Biochemistry (PBB, headed by Prof. Hendrik Küpper) as part of the Institute of Plant Molecular Biology (IPMB) within the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences (BCAS).

The project of this PhD student aims at extending the understanding of mechanisms of the regulation of photosynthesis for nitrogen fixation in Trichodesmium, for more realistic estimation of the productivity of the oceans. This marine, filamentous, diazotrophic cyanobacterium has a particularly fast regulation of photosynthesis. Phycourobilin isoforms turned out to be the key players in the fast regulation during the daily activity cycle (by their reversible (un)coupling to/from photosystems) as well as in the long‐term regulation (by changes in their expression levels) in response to iron and light stress, they shall be the main focus of this project. This will involve UV/VIS fluorescence kinetic and FRAP measurements for investigating biophysical properties, combined with metalloproteomics for investigating effects of iron limitation, RAMAN spectroscopy and pulsechase stable isotope labelling for analysing accumulation/transport of metabolites.

See details for this positions and how to apply in the Euraxess webpage.