Photosynthesis harnesses energy from sunlight to drive the fixation of CO2 into the organic carbon building blocks of life. Eukaryotic algae account for 30-40% of global carbon fixation, yet very little is known about how they acquire their CO2. My research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of carbon fixation in algae and cyanobacteria. With a focus on how aquatic organisms efficiently transport CO2 from their surrounding environment and concentrate it in the proximity of Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) - the principle carbon fixing enzyme. We use high-throughput, systems biology approaches to rapidly identify key components of the carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM). We use this data to drive synthetic biology experiments to reconstruct CCMs in heterologous systems. Ultimately we aim to transfer components to higher plants to improve photosynthetic performance.
For more information please visit the Mackinder Lab website.
My aim as a teacher is to impassion students and provide them with core skills to support them in their future career paths.
I currently lecture on the stage 1 Microbiology module where I introduce students to the beautiful but overlooked world of algae. I also teach biotechnology based plant and algae engineering in the stage 2 Food and Fuel module.
My tutorials are based around engineering photosynthesis. I try to mix recent technological advances with engineering approaches that have the potential to increase yields to feed the rapidly expanding global population.
My projects are primarily lab based where I encourage students to be fully integrated into the lab. Recent projects have involved characterising mutants with photosynthetic defects and synthetic biology based engineering of photosynthesis.