We explore the tremendous potential of algal metabolic diversity
Photosynthesis shaped much of the world as we know it, driving our climate, nutrition and energy resources. Fueled by energy and reducing power generated by the light reactions, metabolic pathways in photosynthetic cells have evolved to optimally divide fixed carbon between growth, storage and other cellular and organismal needs (which is often termed “photosynthate investment”), and when needed, to alleviate stress caused by imbalances thereof (e.g. under fluctuating conditions).
The theoretical limit of photosynthesis efficiency (defined as the fraction of light energy that is captured in conversion of CO2 and water to glucose) is widely accepted as ~12%, but reaches only 3-4% in higher plants and 5-7% in microalgae in empirical efficiencies measurements, emphasizing the potential of the latter as a resource of improvement of photosynthesis in future crops.
Our overreaching aim is to gain deep systems-level understanding of photosynthetic metabolism in algae, and the role it plays in stirring photosynthesis efficiency and growth. To address these goals, we apply a set of tools, including state-of-the-art flux-metabolomics, modeling, molecular biology and physiology.
We measure C-fluxome responses of various algae and plants to diverse conditions
We perform metabolic-network analyses using flux-balance and kinetic modeling constrained with flux data
We devise insight-driven metabolic engineering strategies of photosynthetic cells
What's on our plate
Plant growth is a spatio-temporally resolved process, whose dynamics depend on numerous events, signals and interactions. Using several model and non-model green algae we explore the role of photosynthetic metabolism as a determinant of growth.
Photosynthetic metabolism and growth
Some features of metabolic performance (e.g. capacity, efficiency) have been shown to play a role in overcoming abiotic stress. Previous and ongoing work in the lab reveal novel metabolic stress-response regulators, and study their cellular impact and synthetic biology potential.
Metabolism-mediated stress response
Image by @plantsandpipettes
Algal metabolic diversity in extreme habitats is an underexploited resource for photosynthesis research and engineering goals. We develop tailored setups for metabolic phenotyping of algal isolates from deserts, tidal pools and polar lakes.
Novel algal metabolic adaptations in extreme environments
Did we catch your attention?
We are recruiting at all levels.
If you are a curious and motivated team-player who can handle a technical challenge, read more here on joining the TrevesLab.