Light-harvesting complexes: adaptation and efficiency


Different light-harvesting strategy and flexible regulatory mechanism for maximising light-energy capture and their potential application for increasing the biomass and crop production


Professor Min Chen

Research Location

School of Biological Sciences

Program Type



Photosynthesis – the most important reaction on the Earth – is the agent that stores the energy of sunlight into carbohydrates for later use in the biosphere. Light-capture is the gateway of photosynthesis. Nature has evolved varieties of light-harvesting protein complexes for accessing different light environments. Light-harvesting architecture plays an important role for capturing and dissipating the light energy. The project will study the molecular mechanism of light-harvesting systems and their efficiency. Two main pathways will be explored for improving light-harvesting efficiency: extending the solar spectrum available region of photosynthesis and manipulating the size of antenna in order to redistribute light absorption within crop canopy or layered leaves.

The approaches for this project include pigment-binding protein complexes purification and their biochemical/biophysical characterisation, liquid chromatographic and spectral analysis.

Additional Information

• Current PhD/Hons topics being undertaken at the location or with the supervisors

Three PhD Projects are being undertaken in A/Prof Chen’s laboratory.
1. Light-harvesting systems in Chromera velia
2. Function of antenna systems in a newly isolated cyanobacterium containing chlorophyll f
3. Global protein analysis of cyanobacterium Acaryochloris marina under various oxygen-stressed conditions.

• Is the opportunity also available for Honours students?

 Yes, one-year potential projects are available for honours students. Details please contact A/Prof Min Chen (

• Techniques, methodologies, research approaches, technologies, etc., employed by the project - e.g., electron microscopy, textual analysis, etc.

Pigment and pigment-bound protein analyses are performed by using a UV/Vis spectrophotometer, fluorescence spectrophotometer and other molecular spectral analysis methods.

General protein isolation and characteristic methods, such as electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE, IEF, Western Blotting, Native electrophoresis, 2-D gel, peptide mass fingerprinting and other proteomic analysis.

Chromatographic analysis such as HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography), FPLC (Fast protein liquid chromatography), gel filtration and ion-exchanging columns for proteins and protein-complexes purification.

DNA, RNA isolation, PCR (DNA as templates) and RT-PCR (RNA as templates), Gene transformation and functional studies in vitro.

General biochemical and molecular biological experiences are required for potential students who want to study inthe laboratory. Hons A or similar experiences is required.

• Scholarships/funding available
ARC Centre of Excellent for Translational Photosynthesis (2014-2020)
Biosynthesis of chlorophylls (ARC Future Fellow, 2013-2016)
ARC Discovery Project (2012-2014)

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Photosynthesis, evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis, chlorophyll, light-harvesting complexes, phycobiliproteins, chlorophyll-binding protein complexes, proteomics of membrane-bound protein complexes, Protein structural models. Stress-response plant physiology (light, oxygen and nutrients), biosynthesis of chlorophyll and other photopigments. Acaryochloris, blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, Bioinformatics and functional genomics, hongdechloris

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1864

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