Blankenship studies the energy-storing reactions in photosynthetic organisms, as well as the origin and early evolution of photosynthesis.
The chemical reactions leading to long-term energy storage in photosynthetic systems take place within the membrane-bound reaction center complex and an associated group of proteins that make up an electron transport chain. Blankenship seeks to understand why essentially every photon absorbed by the system leads to a stable product, an efficiency well beyond that of artificial photosynthetic systems. To this end, he studies antenna complexes, reaction centers, electron transport proteins and isolated pigments by means of ultrafast laser flash photolysis and UV-VIS, fluorescence and electron spin resonance spectroscopies.
Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered a previously unknown strategy photosynthetic organisms use to protect themselves from the dangers of excessive light, providing further insight into photosynthesis and opening up new avenues for engineering this process, which underlies the global food chain.
Robert Blankenship, PhD, the Lucille P. Markey Distinguished Professor of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has won the St. Louis Section of the American Chemical Society’s 2015 Midwest Award.
Scientists attending a workshop at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory slipped the leash of scientific caution and tried to imagine what they would do if they could redesign plants at will. The ideas they dreamed up may make the difference between full bellies and empty ones in the near future when population may outrun the ability of traditional plant breeding to increase yields.
The Department of Energy has awarded the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC) $14.4 million for continuing research on natural and bio-inspired systems for harvesting the sun’s energy. The center, which is hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, was one of 32 projects selected for funding from among more than 200 proposals and one of only 22 to receive second-round funding.
In Science, scientists at Washington
University in St. Louis report on a new technique that allowed them to extract a photosynthetic megacomplex consisting of a light antenna and two reaction centers from the membrane of a cyanobacterium. This is the first time an entire complex has been isolated and studied as a functioning whole.