The contradictory functions of carotenoid-based light-harvesters: Understanding energy harvesting and dissipation in the Fucoxanthin-Chlorophyll Protein (FCP)

Christopher Duffy (primary)
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Deprt. of Cellular and Molecular Biology
Rachel Crespo-Otero (secondary)
School of Biological and Chemical Science, Department of Chemistry


Carotenoids in photosynthetic light-harvesting proteins can both harvest light energy and act as a protective barrier depending on light intensity. This is an emergent behavior where to same pigment can perform both functions depending on a complex network of interactions with other pigments. The FCP photosynthetic algae is a heavily experimentally-probed example but so far there is no general model of this dual behavior. In this project, using theoretical physics, quantum chemistry and bio-molecular simulation, we will develop a general theory of how a single protein can be both an ultra-efficient solar panel and an effective sun-screen.


1 Wang et al. Structural basis for blue-green light harvesting and energy dissipation in diatoms. Science 363, 598 (2019)
2 Huzifa et al. Energy dissipation mechanisms in the FCPb light-harvesting complex of the diatom Cyclotella meneghiniana. BBA-Bioenergetics 1859, 1151-1160 (2018)
3 Fox et al. A possible molecular basis for photoprotection in the minor antenna proteins of plants. BBA-Bioenergetics 1859, 471-481(2018)
4 Balevicius Jr. et al. The full dynamics of energy relaxation in large organic molecules: From photo-excitation to solvent heating. Chem. Sci. 10, 4792-4804 (2019)

Genes, development and STEM* approaches to biology
Area of Biology
Chemical BiologyStructural Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiophysicsChemistryMolecular BiologySimulation / Modelling