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Hacking the Biological Clock: Circadian Rhythm and Photosynthesis
Description and Aim
Scientists usually appreciate that living systems depend on flows of matter and energy, but they often forget about flows of information. For instance the biological clock, which provides information to the organism about the time of day (or night), is crucial for the functioning of plants and animals. The purpose of this workshop is to accumulate knowledge on the span of control of the circadian clock in photosynthesis and on related physiology. Recent observations have revealed prominent post-translational contributions to timekeeping, besides the well known negative feedback loops on the transcriptional level. The programme will include the role that circadian ‘signals’ play in the development of photosynthetic organisms when nutritional and abiotic stresses modulate and re-program the transcriptome and metabolome. Plants and photosynthetic microorganisms produce different qualities of photosynthesis in response to different environments. This response is brought about after signal perception by receptors followed by signal processing and transduction that represents the biological equivalent of sensors and amplifiers in physics. In fact unravelling the ‘genetic algorithm’ that determines the actual rate of photosynthesis for a leaf, a mesophyll cell or for microorganisms, and then reprogramming of this algorithm by phenotypic engineering for maximum biomass yield by hacking the clock would be a very powerful strategy for improving photosynthesis.
The purpose of the workshop goes beyond working on the problem of the biological clock, and explicitly focuses on working on possible solutions, for food and energy, that can be forged based on the knowledge of the biological clock. The workshop will be considered a success if a vision is established on how the biological clock can be hacked for improved photosynthesis in plants and microorganisms. This vision will be expressed in the form of a short scientific notes and will be debated through an open discussion platform.