Research conducted by Wendy Schluchter, University of New Orleans biological sciences professor and department chair, is featured in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Schluchter, along with two graduate students and an undergraduate, authored “Molecular bases of an alternative dual-enzyme system for light color acclimation of marine Synechococcus cyanobacteria.”
The article is based on research that earned Schluchter a $521,578 grant from the National Science Foundation Biology Division last year.
The article explores marine phytoplankton, a microalgae found in the ocean that provides food for a variety of sea creatures such as whales and shrimp.
Marine phytoplankton comprise the base of the food web because they take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and turn it into a form that all life in the ocean can use.
The research studies how a group of widespread microbes called Synechococcus succeed in photosynthesis by studying how these organisms modify their pigment composition to adapt to changes in light.
This process is called chromatic acclimation, and it involves only a few genes that allow these microbes to tune their pigments to absorb the available color of light filtering through the ocean.
The research provides novel highlights on the evolutionary history of Synechococcus acclimation to light color in the oceans, Schluchter said.