Universiteit Leiden

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2.8 million euros for photosynthesis research

In the programme NWO Open Competition Domain Science - GROOT, twenty new consortia will start a large research project. This boost of more than 47 million euros will make new research possible in the science domain. Among the winners is the Nanoscale Regulators of Photosynthesis consortium in which Anjali Pandit takes part.

The consortium, con­sist­ing of bi­ol­o­gists, physi­cists and chemists, will con­duct re­search into a pro­tein in plants that plays a role in pho­to­syn­the­sis. Plants de­pend on sun­light for their en­ergy sup­ply. With the use of an in­ge­nious an­tenna sys­tem they use this light very ef­fi­ciently but in bright sun­light the chances to in­duce pho­to­dam­age in­crease sub­stan­tially. For­tu­nately, plants can cope with these dan­gers with the use of a spe­cial pro­tein called PsbS.

Recognising danger

How­ever, it is com­pletely un­known how this pro­tein does its job. A broad con­sor­tium of plant bi­ol­o­gists, chemists and physi­cists from Leiden, Amsterdam, Wageningen and Groningen team up to in­ves­ti­gate with ad­vanced ex­per­i­men­tal and the­o­ret­i­cal meth­ods how PsbS can rec­og­nize the dan­ger and set in mo­tion a cas­cade of processes that lead to ef­fi­cient pho­to­pro­tec­tion. In Leiden, the team of Dr. Anjali Pandit team will investigate the active switch of PsbS that turns on photoprotection. Herefore the protein will be produced and placed in a membrane-mimicking environment, followed by its structural characterization through spectroscopic methods, in particular NMR.

Food security

The in­sights that fol­low from the re­search pro­gram may be used to op­ti­mize the pro­duc­tiv­ity of crop plants, and to in­crease their re­silience to the ad­verse ef­fects of cli­mate change. In this way the re­search pro­gramme may con­tribute to global food se­cu­rity in the near fu­ture.

In the NWO Open Competition Domain Science - GROOT researchers can apply as a part of a consortium for curiosity-driven, fundamental research in the research fields of the NWO Domain Science.

The call is published once every two years.

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