Honours Project Opportunities in Bioconversion and Photosynthesis

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Potential honours projects in Dr Min Chen's Bioconversion and photosynthesis group, located in Room 219, Heydon Laurence Building.

Project 1: Molecular mechanism of photo-regulation in cyanobacteria

We have found that cyanobacteria have the capability to adapt to various light conditions through changing the composition of pigmentation and chromatic adaptation (Duxbury et al 2009). We will investigate the regulationary mechanisms behind the effects. Bacteriophytochromes are photoreceptors that bacteria use to mediate sensory phsylogical responses to the light environment. We have identified a Bacteriophytochrome homolog gene in Acaryochloris marina (Swingley et al 2008).The project will focus on the function of bacteriophytochrome in Acaryochloris marina, a chlorophyll d-containing cyanobacterium. The project will involve using sequence analysis (bioinformatic comparisons) PCR/RT-PCR, protein isolation, SDSPAGE and proteomic analyses.

Project 2: Metabolic transition from anaerobic to aerobic condition

Oxygen is an important molecule in the atmosphere, without it, we cannot have the life forms as now exist. Many important metabolic reactions show different oxygen requirements, such as oxygenic photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation, including the Rubisco enzyme (the key enzyme for CO2 fixation). The aim of this project will look at the counterpart enzymes retained in cyanobacteria and explore their roles from anaerobic condition to aerobic conditions. The project will involve some basic bioinformatice sequence study (to find the interesting counterpart genes in Acaryochloris marina), PCR/RT-PCR and protein analysis (SDS-PAGE, structure and function of proteins of interest).