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Martin Jonikas, “Systems and synthetic biology of photosynthetic organisms”

picture of Martin Jonikas
February 4, 2016 - 4:00pm
Beckman Center, Munzer Auditorium

Free and open to the public

Abstract:

Photosynthetic organisms, our planet's greatest chemists, form the foundations for human health by providing us with food, fuel, materials and drugs. Yet, our understanding of these organisms is in its infancy. My laboratory aims to enable transformative advances in sustainability by bringing systems and synthetic biology to photosynthetic organisms.

We have brought high-throughput genetics to photosynthetic eukaryotes by generating the first indexed, genome-wide collection of mutants in a single-celled photosynthetic organism, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. We have also developed tools for systematically determining the localizations of hundreds of proteins in this organism.

I will illustrate how these tools have given us key insights into the mechanism of biogenesis of the pyrenoid, a mysterious and overlooked algal organelle that performs approximately one-third of global carbon fixation. I will further discuss our early efforts as part of an international collaboration to transfer this organelle into crops to enhance their productivity.

Bio:

Martin Jonikas is a Young Investigator at the Carnegie Institution for Science and an Assistant Professor by courtesy in the Department of Biology at Stanford. His laboratory aims to enable transformative advances in sustainability and health by bringing systems and synthetic biology to photosynthetic organisms. He studied aerospace engineering as an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco working with Jonathan Weissman, Maya Schuldiner and Peter Walter on high-throughput genetics and protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum. He is the recipient of several awards, including a 2015 NIH New Innovator Award, a 2010 Air Force Young Investigator Award and a 2005 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Event Sponsor: 
ChEM-H in partnership with the Departments of Biology, BioEngineering, and Chemical Engineering
Contact Email: 
Kathy Morway <morway44@stanford.edu>