Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Workshop on“Chloroplast Structure and Function” was organized by S. Rajagopal, Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad from 26 August to 06 September 2019. The workshop was inaugurated by Prof. Appa Rao Podile, Vice Chancellor on 26 August, 2019.
For this workshop the main foreign course coordinator was Prof. Gyozo Garab, Biological Research Center, Hungary and supported by Prof. Nathan Nelson, Tel Aviv University, Israel. Prof. A.S. Raghavendra, Dept. of Plant Sciences, UoH, Prof. B.C. Tripaty, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Prof. A.R. Reddy, Yogi Vemana University, Prof. J.S.S. Prakash, UoH and Prof. S. Rajagopal have also immensely involved in the teaching. Laboratory course was also conducted. Out of 100 applications only 36 were selected based on their interest. The Dean, Prof. S. Dayananda, Head, Dept. of Plant Sciences, Prof. G. Padmaja, faculties and Research students were joined for the inauguration.
During this workshop the following topics have been thoroughly discussed by all the speakers. Photosynthesis – the complex biological process of converting light energy to chemical energy – is the energetic basis of life on Earth. The atmospheric oxygen, and thus the ozone shield, are also of photosynthetic origin. The fossil energy carriers are ‘solar-energy deposits’ from photosynthesis of past millions of years, and the greenhouse gas CO2 that is released during their excessive combustion is counterbalanced and recycled, to a large extent, by photosynthetic organisms, which thus have very strong impact not only on our everyday life but also on our long-term global environment.
Taking into account the growing population of mankind, and the increased demand for food, feedstock, and raw material, as well as for clean, renewable energy, one of the biggest scientific and technological challenges of our society – aiming a sustainable development – is to exploit solar energy in a better and more efficient way. However, crop productivity and bioenergy production, at the present state of development of agriculture and biotechnology, is largely limited by the low efficiency of photosynthesis, especially under biotic and abiotic stress conditions. This is because photosynthesis has not evolved for maximum efficiency. The productivity of crop plants and algae should be improved via bridging the relatively large gap between the yield in nature and the theoretical capacity of photosynthesis; most experts agree that this, redesigning photosynthesis, is a realistic goal that can be reached gradually in the coming decades.
To achieve this goal, and to develop the bio-based economy sector, the speakers have explored all the basic structures of biological light-energy conversion, along with their astounding variations in nature at different levels of their structural complexity, and their variations under different environmental conditions; we also need to understand the underlying multilevel physical and molecular regulatory mechanisms.
The processes of photosynthesis are conventionally divided into light and dark reactions. The absorption of light and ultrafast (fs-ps) energy migration in the light-harvesting antenna system toward the photochemical reaction centers, driving the primary charge separations, are followed by a series of redox changes and ion movements along the so-called electron transport chain, resulting in evolution of molecular oxygen, the synthesis of the reducing agent NADPH and the formation, on the time-scale of milliseconds, of an electrochemical potential gradient consisting of transmembrane pH and electric potential gradients, which are utilized for the synthesis of the `energy carrier molecule’, ATP. In the much slower dark reactions (sec-min), NADPH and ATP are consumed during the `fixation’ of CO2, i.e. the synthesis of sugars. These steps and other consecutive metabolic processes in the photosynthetic organisms are coupled to each other and are under the control of complex regulatory mechanisms, with feedback effects on the primary photophysical and photochemical steps. Hence, research of photosynthesis requires a truly multidisciplinary approach and the use of a virtually full arsenal of biophysical, biochemical, molecular biology and plant physiology techniques. The two weeks intense program ‘In return’, the acquired knowledge, examples demonstrated, may be used in different areas of research, such as photochemistry and photobiology, bioenergetics, membrane biology, cellular and molecular biology as well as material sciences.