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Hitchcock, Andrew; Hunter, Christopher Neil; Sobotka, Roman; Komenda, Josef; Dann, Marcel and Leister, Dario (2021): Redesigning the photosynthetic light reactions to enhance photosynthesis - the PhotoRedesign consortium. In: Plant Journal, Vol. 109, No. 1: pp. 23-34

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In this Perspective article, we describe the visions of the PhotoRedesign consortium funded by the European Research Council of how to enhance photosynthesis. The light reactions of photosynthesis in individual phototrophic species use only a fraction of the solar spectrum, and high light intensities can impair and even damage the process. In consequence, expanding the solar spectrum and enhancing the overall energy capacity of the process, while developing resilience to stresses imposed by high light intensities, could have a strong positive impact on food and energy production. So far, the complexity of the photosynthetic machinery has largely prevented improvements by conventional approaches. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop concepts to redesign the light-harvesting and photochemical capacity of photosynthesis, as well as to establish new model systems and toolkits for the next generation of photosynthesis researchers. The overall objective of PhotoRedesign is to reconfigure the photosynthetic light reactions so they can harvest and safely convert energy from an expanded solar spectrum. To this end, a variety of synthetic biology approaches, including de novo design, will combine the attributes of photosystems from different photoautotrophic model organisms, namely the purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides, the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. In parallel, adaptive laboratory evolution will be applied to improve the capacity of reimagined organisms to cope with enhanced input of solar energy, particularly in high and fluctuating light.

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