My laboratory works in the field of plant molecular genetics in the area of photosynthesis. We study how plants and algae acquire CO2 for photosynthesis. Algae are very efficient at obtaining CO2 from the environment and they have developed CO2 Concentrating Mechanisms (CCMs). We have discovered many of the components of the CCM of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (1). We found that the C. reinhardtii CCM involves bicarbonate (HCO3-) transporters that accumulate HCO3- in the chloroplast and carbonic anhydrases that convert that HCO3- to CO2 and H2O. The CO2, which now is at a high concentration, is then used by the enzyme Rubisco, which starts the process of converting CO2 and H2O into carbohydrate.
We also study the role of carbonic anhydrase in terrestrial plants using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We’ve discovered that there are 14 genes encoding carbonic anhydrase in Arabidopsis, and carbonic anhydrases are required for a wide variety of metabolic processes, including photosynthesis (2, 3). We are also participating in the RIPE project, a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and based at the University of Illinois. The goal of this project is to improve crop yields by improving the efficiency of photosynthesis in terrestrial plants. My part of this project is to see if we can apply what we have learned from algal photosynthesis to improve photosynthesis in crop plants. If you would like to know more about my research program or the people in my research group, please go to the Moroney lab webpage.
1. Jungnick N, Ma Y, Mukherjee B, Cronan JC, Speed DJ, Laborde SM, Longstreth DJ, Moroney JV (2014) The Carbon Concentrating Mechanism in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii - Finding the Missing pieces. Photosynth. Res. 121:159-173 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11120-014-0004-x/fulltext.html
2. DiMario RJ, Quebedeaux JC, Longstreth DJ, Dassanayaki M, Hartman MM, Moroney JV (2016) βCA2 and βCA4 are required for optimal plant growth in a low CO2 environment. Plant Physiol. 171: 280-293
3. DiMario RJ, Clayton H, Mukherjee A, Ludwig M, Moroney JV (2016) Plant carbonic anhydrases - structures, locations, evolution and physiological roles. Mol. Plant http://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S1674205216301927