Evolutionary relationships of aerobic and anaerobic metabolic reactions

Summary

The generation of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere by oxygenic photosynthesis was the most important environmental event to affect both biology and geology. Accumulation of molecular oxygen in the atmosphere fundamentally changed the redox balance on Earth, permitted the development of aerobic metabolism, and led to development of advanced life forms. Initially, anaerobic processes were forced to adapt from a reductive to an oxidative environment, which allowed organisms both to detoxify and to use oxygen as a metabolic substrate, and was a fundamental adaptive solution in the history of life that has persisted until the present.. Some predominately aerobic organisms can still use anaerobic steps under certain conditions. Those pathways, including mixed aerobic and anaerobic steps, represent evolutionary convergence, i.e. anaerobic pathways have been ‘updated’ over time by replacement with more efficient aerobic versions.

Supervisor(s)

Associate Professor Min Chen

Research Location

School of Biological Sciences

Program Type

PHD

Synopsis

Nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis are the two ancient metabolic processes, which are essential reactions driving global biogeochemical cycles. Photosystem II (PSII) produces molecular oxygen (O2), while nitrogenase is inhibited by O2. Despite this antagonistic relationship between the two processes, they co-exist and function simultaneously in many cyanobacteria. Therefore, cyanobacteria offer great opportunities for exploring the evolutionary relationship between aerobic and anaerobic metabolic reactions.

Photosystems comprise of multi units. They are dynamically changed in responses to different environments (different light conditions and differnet oxygen levels). The project will focus on the co-existence of these two fundamental processes and their metabolic transition.

The project will involve DAN/RNA sequence analysis for identifying the putative functional genes in related to the aerobic/anaerobic metabolic reactions. Further molecular and biochemical analysis will be performed for characterizing the metabolic reaction in related to the shifted environments.

Additional Information

•    Is the opportunity also available for Honours students?
Yes, one-year potential projects are available for honours students. Details please contact Dr Min Chen (min.chen@sydney.edu.au)

•    Techniques, methodologies, research approaches, technologies, etc., employed by the project - e.g., electron microscopy, textual analysis, etc.
General protein isolation and characteristic methods, such as electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE, IEF, Native electrophoresis, 2-D gel, peptide mass finger printing and other proteomic analysis. Chromagraphic anaylssis such as HPLC (high-performance liquid chromagraphy), FPLC (Fast protein liquid chromagraphy), gel filtration and ion-exchanging columns for sample purification. Centrifugation and gradient centrifugation will use to obtain different size of protein complexes.
 
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.

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Keywords

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, evolution of cyanobacteria. Biogeographics, Bioinformatics and functional genomics, hongdechloris

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 776

Other opportunities with Associate Professor Min Chen