Photosynthetic organisms varying from small unicellular cyanobacteria to large trees are responsible for producing most of the organic compounds on Earth. These primary producers capture solar energy and use water and atmospheric CO2 to make organic molecules, the building blocks of all living organisms, via a unique process known as photosynthesis. Research on primary producers is important to guarantee sufficient food, feed and fuel for the ever-increasing human population, and to combat climate change by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. Our CoE is comprised of groups with strong track records in basic photosynthesis, microalgal and plant sciences. However, we have previously focused on different aspects of primary production.
Over the decades photosynthesis research has been strongly focused on the photosynthetic apparatus, with little consideration for whole cell interactions and crosstalk. Similarly, in plant cell physiology, metabolism and signal transduction have been studied separately from photosynthesis. This is despite photosynthesis being the ultimate source of energy and redox equivalents for the whole plant metabolism and biomass. Our CoE brings together the photosynthetic research group from the University of Turku and plant scientists from Helsinki University with the goal of integrating photosynthesis research with whole plant cell metabolism. This is important for exploring novel approaches to enhanced biomass production and for the development of new and innovative routes to the direct conversion of solar energy to bio-based fine chemicals and biofuels.