Eukaryotic microalgal cells are comprised of various organelles, in which specialized metabolic processes take place. Shifting conditions, such as an environmental change in nutrient availability or an intracellular change in redox state, require an adequate response from the cell to ensure its survival. For this, proper intracellular communications and interactions, followed by a cellular response, are essential.
In this research project, we investigate metabolic processes at the organelle level. In particular, we will examine the chloroplast, the organelle where photosynthesis as well as other relevant metabolic routes take place. Next, we will investigate metabolic interactions of the chloroplast with other cellular compartments, such as mitochondria and cytoplasm.
Cells will be grown in a flat panel photobioreactor under different conditions. After biomass has been produced and characterized (biochemical composition), chloroplasts will be isolated to analyse the metabolic processes inside. In addition to characterization, we are interested in the interactions that the chloroplast has with mitochondria and cytoplasm. Such interactions can be from the metabolite level up to the physiological level. Finally, we would like to integrate the data obtained at the organelle level into a compartmentalized metabolic model, that can be used to predict and improve metabolite productivity.
There are opportunities for BSc and MSc students to do their thesis. Depending on your interest, there are thesis subjects available in the form of lab experiments and modelling.
This research project is supported by the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología – CONACYT), Scholar 218586/Scholarship 314173. GM Leon Saiki participates in the “Doctores Jóvenes para el Desarrollo Estratégico Institucional” program by the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa.