The art of taming light: What we can learn from a bacterium… and beyond

We love to manipulate light and have realized that we have a kindred soul in the form of a small bacterium – the cyanobacterium – whose light manipulations result in photosynthesis. This bacterium is in some ways amazing at manipulating light and in some ways…well not so much. But the system is modular and remarkably, the workings of the ‘best’ part of the system were discovered only in recent years but are still not not fully understood. Involved is an enzyme with the capability to perform light driven electrolysis and production of the oxygen in the atmosphere. Our interest in this system has led us to develop a new platform for studies of biomolecules at the single molecule level. I will discuss this platform and its potential for studies of photosynthetic enzymes and of proteins more generally.