The plant protein Light-Harvesting Complex II (LHCII) allows efficient absorption of solar energy and is essential for photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, LHCII proteins undergo dynamic structural changes which alter its capacity for light harvesting and changes its interactions with other proteins. Despite some recent progress, our understanding of how LHCII functions at the molecular level is often based on a static picture. Understanding the function of LHCII is critical as this could be exploited in the design of novel solar nanotechnologies. In this project the student will use an interdisciplinary approach that combines molecular simulations and modelling with fluorescence spectroscopy 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 position would suit a student interested in interdisciplinary science with a biochemistry, chemistry or physics background, or a combination of these.
Further information about this project and how to apply can be found on our website.