Growth and photosynthetic performance of plants are frequently diminished by commonly occurring environmental conditions. For instance, in a fairly diverse group of plant species, a persistent inhibition of photosynthesis occurs when plants are exposed to chilling temperatures. My laboratory is investigating the underlying causes and molecular basis for inhibition of photosynthesis by low temperature exposure and by drought. The research strategy involves molecular, biochemical, and whole plant studies. We are also very interested in the response of plants to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and surface ozone levels. This research centers on SoyFACE (http://www.soyface.uiuc.edu/), the new Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment facility at the University of Illinois.
Our current research emphasis on photosynthetic energy transduction centers on the regulation of photosynthetic ATPsynthase enzyme complex. Regulation of the catalytic activity of the ATPsynthase involves both an energetic component as well as redox modulation. The approach includes flash kinetic spectroscopy to monitor enzyme activation in intact leaves, rapid mixing to determine the order of events in activation and deactivation of the enzyme complex, and the selection and analysis of ATPsynthase activation mutants of Arabidopsis.