Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Biology and Biomedical Sciences: Biochemistry


English (en)

Date of Award

Winter 1-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Himadri B. Pakrasi


Phycobilisomes are the large, membrane extrinsic light harvesting antenna of cyanobacteria. They function to absorb light energy and deliver it efficiently to the photosystems, thereby increasing photosynthetic light absorption. Wild type phycobilisomes in the model organism Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803: Synechocystis 6803) consist of a tricylindrical core from which six rods radiate. The colored phycobiliproteins are held together by colorless linker polypeptides.

Several phycobilisome truncation mutants have been generated in Synechocystis 6803. The first, CB, has truncated phycobilisome rods; the second, CK, has only the phycobilisome core; and the third, PAL, has no phycobilisomes at all. Together, these mutants construct a series of increasingly truncated phycobilisomes which are useful for studying the physiology of antenna truncation in cyanobacteria.

In this dissertation, the physiological effects of antenna truncation are examined from three perspectives. First, the effect of partial and complete phycobilisome removal on the expression and activity of photosystem II is examined using a variety of assays that center around fluorescence and oxygen evolution. Second, the overall effects of antenna truncation on thylakoid membrane spacing and structure is explored using electron microscopy and small angle neutron scattering. Finally, the effects of antenna truncation on culture-wide biomass productivity are examined in a variety of setting, including a bench-scale photobioreactor. Together, these studies represent a comprehensive examination of the physiological effects of antenna truncation on Synechocystis 6803.


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