Photosystem II performs the light-driven splitting of water to provide the reducing equivalents necessary for incorporating carbon dioxide into sugars. Two projects are available to study the bioenergetics and assembly of this energy-transducing protein.
Photosystem II is found in the thylakoid membrane of plastids and cyanobacteria and its efficiency is fundamental to photosynthetic performance – and therefore to long-term food security. Additionally, knowledge of how Photosystem II splits water is sought for bio-inspired, solar-driven production of hydrogen fuel from water. PhD projects are available in the following two areas:
Project 1. Electron transport through Photosystem II is regulated by a bicarbonate cofactor. The mechanism of bicarbonate action in Photosystem II will be investigated by elucidating how bicarbonate stabilizes the incorporation of redox cofactors and how bicarbonate participates in proton-coupled electron transport between these redox cofactors.
Project 2. The Photosystem II holoenzyme contains over twenty subunits assembled in a stepwise manner from several key sub-complexes. In addition, these sub-complexes participate in a repair cycle that is essential to extend the working life of the enzyme. The function of protein factors in biogenesis and “self-repair” will be investigated to understand the detailed mechanism governing assembly of this unique membrane-protein complex.