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Organization of cellular photosystems
Date:4/9/2014

omplex interplay between proteins, lipids, pigments and inorganic cofactors, which the members of the new Research Unit plan to dissect. Recent findings suggest that the spatial organization of the components involved plays an important, but hitherto poorly understood, role in the whole process. "Thylakoids have become more complex during the course of evolution, so we intend to study their synthesis in different model organisms," Nickelsen says. "In this way, we hope to be able to reconstruct the evolutionary trajectory that led from the relatively simple photosynthetic membranes of primitive cyanobacteria to the intricately structured thylakoid networks found in higher plants."

Two projects for LMU groups

LMU's contribution to the new Research Unit consists primarily of two projects. Nickelsen and his coworkers will study the biogenesis of the thylakoid membrane of cyanobacteria. They will focus in particular on the question of how the metal manganese is incorporated into the reaction centers located in the thylakoids. The metal is an essential component of the photosystem, because it is intimately involved in the generation of chemical energy and catalyzes the synthesis of molecular oxygen.

LMU biologist Professor Dario Leister will investigate the origins of the highly characteristic spatial organization of the thylakoids in plant chloroplasts. In these organelles, thylakoid disks form localized "pillars" that are reminiscent of stacked dinner-plates. But disks and pillars are in fact connected to each other to form a single continuous compartment. In order to maintain contact with their immediate neighbors, the membranes forming the disk margins must be strongly bent. Leister and his group will concentrate on understanding how this localized curvature is imposed.

DFG-funded Research Units enable teams of researchers working together to tackle important problems in their respective fields and to develop innovative and interd
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Contact: Luise Dirscherl
dirscherl@lmu.de
49-892-080-2706
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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