PS Webinar Series: PhD Exit Seminar: Rubisco and its biogenesis partners; exploiting understanding to build synthetic biology tools

Abstract - Rubisco is a critical enzyme in the carbon fixation reactions of photosynthesis, however it is catalytically slow and non-specific. These perceived catalytic limitations have led to attempts to improve the enzyme, however these attempts have been hindered by higher plant Rubisco’s inability to fold in the common bacterial expression host E. coli. This talk will detail a new, modular, approach for the expression of tobacco Rubisco in E. coli, and the investigation of the degree to which this system mimics a tobacco chloroplast. It will also detail efforts to develop tobacco plants with enhanced folding capabilities through the expression of the promiscuous chaperone GroES GroEL from E. coli in the chloroplast. The development of these tools, which support the expression of Rubisco in non-cognate systems, will aid in synthetic biology approaches to Rubisco research. These synthetic biology approaches include directed evolution, which could help to provide the yield gain required to support the growing population.

Biography : Sally completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Western Australia where she obtained a Bachelor of Science majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Botany. She completed an honours in Botany in 2016 where she investigated the effect of waterlogging in two riparian Eucalyptus species from the Pilbara. Following this Sally commenced her PhD in 2017 in the Whitney group at the Australian National University. During this time she worked to develop synthetic biology tools for the investigation of Rubisco.

A bit about yourself section

  • Who you are, a little about yourself.

I’m Sally Buck, a PhD Student in the Whitney group at ANU.

  • A bit about your research and why it is important

Photosynthesis supports all life on earth, and is a key factor determining things like yield. By making photosynthetic processes more efficient, we might be able to improve yield. My particular interest is in improving rates of carbon fixation by improving the key carbon fixing enzyme, Rubisco.

  • What drives you to research plant science?

Plants are fascinating, but they also present promising solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.

  • Your experience with RSB over the past few years

I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the RSB community over the past few years. I have been afforded some incredible opportunities and made some amazing friends; I’ve had a great time.