Photosynthesis and plant energy biology

The capture of CO2 by photosynthesis using sunlight is fundamental to the maintenance of life on earth. At the Research School of Biology, we study the energy metabolism of plants, algae and cyanobacteria, including the functioning of light capture, CO2 fixation and the interactions with respiration processes and how these determine growth and productivity of agricultural and natural ecosystems.

Our approaches range from synthetic biology to physiology and plant phenomics. The ANU node of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility is developing new modeling and machine learning approaches to enables us to scale from leaf to field. This means we can translate our knowledge about the biochemistry and physiology of leaves and individual plants to their functioning in agroecosystems, in particular under changing climatic conditions.

Our research is embedded in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates-funded C4 Rice and RIPE (Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency) projects.


Project Groups
A synthetic biology approach to supercharging plant CO2 fixation
Abiotic stress signalling, developmental programming and plant adaptation
Agrochemical control of stress signalling pathways for enhanced stress tolerance
C4 Rice Project
Can plants adapt their CO2-fixation capacity in response to climate change?
Carotenoid derivatives as chloroplast signals
Characterization of low and high CO2 sensitive Arabidopsis photosynthetic mutants
Characterization of low CO2 sensitive Arabidopsis photosynthetic mutants
Chemical mechanism of Rubisco catalysis
CO2 acquisition by cyanobacteria and plants, & Synthetic Biology strategies for transplanting cyanobacterial CO2 Concentrating mechanism parts in crop plants
CO2 diffusion inside leaves
Coordination of chloroplast signals with cellular secondary messengers during abiotic and biotic stresses
Decrypting chloroplast signalling networks in C4 photosynthesis at cell type-resolution
Dissecting Rubisco catalysis in C3 and C4 plants
Dynamic architecture of plant thylakoid membranes between light and dark
Electron transport and ATP synthesis in chloroplasts
Enhancing carotenoid levels in cereals by esterification
Entropy as a novel determinant of photosynthetic structure and function
Environmental effects on photosynthesis of species with the C3-C4 intermediate photosynthetic pathway
Examining Rubisco - Rubisco activase interactions.
Exploring the evolutionary protein landscape of Rubisco
Expression of modified tobacco and foreign Rubiscos in tobacco chloroplasts
Genome wide association mapping
Genotypic variation in Rubisco between diverse wheats
Improving C4 photosynthesis by genetic manipulation
Improving drought tolerance in wheat by selectively inhibiting negative regulators of drought stress signalling
Improving nitrogen use efficiency in cereals
Investigating adaptive genomic variation underlying drought tolerance in Eucalyptus
Investigating the genetic architecture of thermal acclimation of leaf energy metabolism using GWAS
Investigating the interactions between respiration and photosynthesis in leaf photosynthetic function
Investigating transcriptional and postranslational regulation of aquaporins
Isotope effects and natural isotope abundance
Leaf respiration under drought
Linking intracellular communication to whole-plant stress responses
Manipulating CO2 transport with aquaporins to improve photosynthesis
Molecular biofuels
Novel nutrient/metabolite transporters in apicomplexan parasites
Out of the darkness: predicting rates of respiration of illuminated leaves along nutrient gradients
Overcoming limitations in engineering the Rubisco small subunits in higher plant chloroplasts.
Pathways of photosynthetic electron flow under environmental stress
Photoprotection and photoinactivation of Photosystem II
Photoprotective functions of xanthophyll pigments in avocado
Photosynthesis, food security and global change
Physics of pan evaporation
Physiological and molecular regulation of stomatal movement
Redefining metabolic schemes in plant respiration
Regulation of chloroplast function via alternative splicing in the nucleus
Scrutinizing the influence of temperature on Rubisco catalysis
Student opportunities in molecular analysis of CO2 acquisition by cyanobacteria
Student projects - additional topics for the future
Student projects in thylakoid function and structure
Student research projects in CO2 fixation and water loss of leaves
Studies on the biochemical regulation of C3 and C4 photosynthesis
The directed evolution of RuBisCO
The role of N-terminal post-translational modifications of the tobacco Rubisco large subunit
Understanding chloroplast/nuclear signaling and response pathways which determine photosynthetic capacity
Understanding the cellular and genetic basis of differences in photosynthetic leaf capacity between Arabidopsis and a close mustard relative Hirschfeldia incana
Understanding the molecular basis of fungal rust diseases in plants
Unravelling novel Rubisco structures in algae
Why is Rubisco from red algae better at CO2-fixation than Rubisco from crop plants?
Resource Type
Where the wild things grow Outreach