Have you ever wondered how you see light, or how plants know which way to orient their leaves to capture more photosynthetic light, how circadian rhythms reset themselves, or why certain microorganism move away from harmful UV light? All of these processes, and many others are regulated by protein photoreceptors. We are studying how these photoreceptors capture light and turn it into a biological signal.
Specifically, we are interested in blue light (PYP) and red light (phytochrome) photoreceptors from novel bacterial sources and study their photoactive kinetics. This involves expression, mutagenesis, and purification of these recombinant proteins in model organism like E. coli. By studying these biophysical characteristics and comparing these to known photoreceptor families we are able to gain knowledge about their evolutionary relationship and potential functional roles.