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Filming photosynthesis: using molecular dynamics simulations and fluorescence to assess the dynamics of the Light Harvesting Complex II protein

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr A Kalli, Dr Peter Adams  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The plant protein Light-Harvesting Complex II (LHCII) allows efficient absorption of solar energy and is essential for photosynthesis. LHCII is one of the most abundant membrane proteins on Earth, found in high numbers in the chloroplasts of all green plants. LHCII proteins undergo dynamic structural changes which alter its capacity for light harvesting, but our understanding of how LHCII functions at the molecular level is often based on a static picture. Understanding the dynamics of LHCII is important because this molecular information supports the development of improved crops and novel solar nanotechnologies.

In this project, we will use an interdisciplinary approach that combines molecular dynamics simulations and fluorescence microscopy to: (1) determine the effect of LHCII-LHCII interactions on its conformational switching, (2) study how LHCII interacts with other proteins cofactors proposed to modulate its action, and (3) quantify the effect of lipid composition on the protein stability and protein-protein interactions. This project will provide novel insights into the different conformations which are known to modulate the state of LHCII underlying its critical function of capturing solar energy. This project would suit a student interested in biochemistry, chemistry or physics and willing learn about computational biophysics.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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