Photosynthesis and respiration are two of the most important biological processes on Earth for energy supply. Cyanobacteria can perform both oxygenic photosynthesis and aerobic respiration in thylakoid membrane. However, compared to extensively studied photosynthesis, knowledge of respiration is not satisfactory. So far, the long-range organization and mobility of respiratory complexes have never been investigated, and how photosynthesis and respiration are regulated in vivo is unknown. This project aims to determine the spatial distribution and mobility of respiratory systems in cyanobacteria, and to elucidate the interaction and regulation of respiratory and photosynthetic electron transport chains in thylakoid membrane. The first aim is to construct cyanobacterial strains containing respiratory complexes tagged with GFP and mCherry. Then high-resolution fluorescence confocal microscopy and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching allow to study the distribution and mobility of fluorescently tagged respiratory complexes and naturally florescent photosynthetic proteins. To supplement the fluorescence observations, using electron microscopy and scanning probe microscopy, this project will further examine the supramolecular organization of photosynthetic and respiratory complexes in thylakoid membrane at the molecular level. Based on the in vivo and in vitro findings, it is possible to draw a picture of the large-scale distribution of respiratory and photosynthetic complexes in vivo at the level of individual complexes, and to explore the coordination and regulation between photosynthesis and respiration. Advanced understanding of the bioenergetic pathways will practically benefit biofuel and biodiesel engineering, to exploit and improve renewable energy production by controlling the complex pathways of electron transport in photosynthetic organisms. The interest of the interdisciplinary project covers molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics and nanotechnology.
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