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York researcher to investigate the power of algae to absorb CO2

Posted on 23 April 2020

A University of York researcher has been awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to investigate how algae converts carbon dioxide into organic molecules during photosynthesis.

Dr Luke MackinderDr Luke Mackinder

The results of the research will be used to guide improvements in photosynthesis to help combat climate change and enhance crop yields.

Dr Luke Mackinder and his team from the Department of Biology, will explore how proteins (the building blocks of cells) are spatially organised in diverse algae and how these "protein-networks" change as the cells absorb or “fix” CO2 during photosynthesis.

Carbon capture

Dr Mackinder said, “Single-celled photosynthetic microbes, like the ones I will study during my fellowship, are responsible for approximately 50% of global CO2 fixation. To put this in perspective, every year approximately five times more CO2 is fixed by these microbes than is released through burning fossil fuels.

“A deeper understanding of how they fix CO2 so efficiently will help guide the improvement of photosynthesis to improve crop yields and enhance biological based carbon capture approaches".

Brightest researchers

The Future Leader Fellowship awarded to Dr Mackinder will provide resources to embark on this ambitious, long-term project.

The fellowship scheme supports major research programmes with wide-ranging societal, scientific and ethical impacts - led by the brightest researchers and innovators at universities across the country.

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: “The Future Leaders Fellowships are UKRI’s flagship talent programme, designed to foster and nurture the research and innovation leaders of the future.

“We are delighted to support these outstanding researchers and innovators across universities, research organisations and businesses.”

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