Photosynthesis is carried out by many different organisms, ranging from plants to bacteria. (Image by Dr. Peter Weigele.)
This literature-based seminar features a full set of readings
, as well as summaries of each topic in the lecture notes
In this course, you will journey through the web of physical, chemical, and biological reactions that collectively constitute photosynthesis. We will begin with light harvesting and follow photons to the sites of primary photochemistry: the photoreaction centers. A molecular-scale view will show in atomic detail how these protein complexes capture and energize electrons. Then we will follow the multiple pathways electrons take as they carry out their work. Consequent reactions, such as the synthesis of ATP and the reduction of CO2
during the synthesis of carbohydrates, will also be discussed in structural detail. Lastly, we will delve into the evolution of these systems and also discuss other photosynthetic strategies, such as light-driven proton pumps and anoxygenic photosynthesis. The course will include a visit to an electron microscope to allow students to directly observe proteins involved in photosynthesis.
This course is one of many Advanced Undergraduate Seminars offered by the Biology Department at MIT. These seminars are tailored for students with an interest in using primary research literature to discuss and learn about current biological research in a highly interactive setting. Many instructors of the Advanced Undergraduate Seminars are postdoctoral scientists with a strong interest in teaching.