TCBG Seminar

Rebirth of Photosynthesis Research

Professor Govindjee
Biochemistry, Biophysics and Plant Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois

Monday, November 3, 2008
3:00 pm (CT)
3269 Beckman Institute


“Life is bottled Sunshine” [Wynwood Reade, Martydom of Man, 1924]. This is a 4-word summary of the significance of photosynthesis. In this seminar, I plan to present the historical development1 of the field, including the discoveries (a) of the conversion of light energy into chemical energy; (b) how 100s of chlorophyll molecules (known as antenna ) feed their absorbed energy into a limited number of ‘photo-enzymes’ (known as reaction centers, RCs); (c) that two photo-systems and two light-reactions are needed to oxidize H2O molecules to molecular O2, and reduce a molecule of CO2 to {CH2O}; (d) of the steps by which CO2 is converted to sugars; and (e) of the atomic level structure of the photosynthetic RCs. The availability of the crystal structures of the RCs, and of the antenna molecules has been the beginning of the Rebirth of Photosynthesis Research. We are now asking questions at the molecular level. Further, our ability to construct by genetic engineering, ‘sort of new’ photosynthetic systems provides us with advantages, never available before: we can change/improve, through our knowledge of photosynthesis the process to make biomass for production of biodiesel or hydrogen gas. [1Govindjee et al. (Eds) (2005)Discoveries in Photosynthesis, Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration, Vol. 20, Springer]

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