Developing Bacterial Nanowires for Light-Driven Catalysis

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Chemistry


Inspired by natural photosynthesis and addressing limitations of purely synthetic approaches, this PhD project aims to provide proof of principle for light-driven chemical synthesis through the design and assembly of novel inorganic:biological hybrid materials.

The project will establish methods to combine robust, synthetic light-harvesting materials with non-photosynthetic bacteria in a sustainable solution to delivering chemical transformations. The surface of Shewanella bacteria will be site-selectively labelled with light-harvesting molecules using detailed knowledge of the MTR protein complex, a biological molecular wire, that conducts electrons across the bacterial outer membrane. In this way, absorption of light will drive electrons across the bacterial outer membrane and, in turn, redox catalysis by enzymes inside the bacterium. During the project MTR variants will be designed to present different sites for labelling. The variants will be purified, labelled and incorporated into vesicles where their ability to perform light-driven electron transfer across a lipid bilayer will be quantified. For the best-performing MTR variants, protocols for their labelling on bacteria will be established, and light-driven production of fuels, for example, hydrogen (from water) and formate (from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide), will be quantified.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/T008717/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2028
2443611 Studentship BB/T008717/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Laura Alfs