Modelling Chloroplast Signalling Pathways and Optimisation of Photosynthesis.
Project #1: Modelling Chloroplast Signalling Pathways
How does the photosynthetic metabolic network in microalgae adapt upon changes in external light conditions and other stresses during short-time intervals?
My research is focused on getting a better understanding of the signaling pathways in plants and microalgae, in particular decoding the key role of kinases and phosphatases enzymes. This project requires close collaboration with our experimental partners in Halle, which provide the fundamental proteomic data in which we search for patterns leading us to developing the model.
Project #2: Modelling Algae-Bacteria Consortia
Bacteria and microalgae have co-existed for millions of years, very often establishing symbiotic relationships of various kind. We are particularly interested in mutualistic consortia, where both partners take advantage of the presence of the other species. Following a synthetic ecology approach, we want to improve the large-scale cultivation of diatoms (oil-producing microalgae of high interest in industrial applications) by identifying virtuous algal-bacterial consortia where the bacteria (which need organic carbon sources to grow) provides the algae with expensive micronutrients, like the coenzyme B12. Our experimental partners in Bantry are collecting very interesting data, while we are currently working on extending the Flux Balance Analysis (FBA) method to include the role of cofactors like vitamin B12. A software developed at Boston University (COMETS - Computation of Microbial Ecosystems in Time and Space) used dynamic FBA on a lattice to simulate bacteria consortia. We want to implement our findings in this framework to be able to model the growth of bacteria and algae colonies.