Biolunch, 2 Mar 2021

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Biological Oceanography Lunch Seminar
Cold adaptation in diatoms: a bioinorganic chemist's perspective

Katherine Frato
Seattle University, College of Science & Engineering

11:30 A.M., via Zoom


Diatoms have evolved to thrive in a wide array of ecological niches, including polar environments. In this talk, I’ll provide a bioinorganic and biophysical perspective on adaptation to very cold environments, specifically on the level of protein stability and function. Our model system is cytochrome c6, which shuttles electrons between the cytochrome b6f complex and photosystem I. We analyze the amino acid sequences, stability, and midpoint potential of two highly homologous cytochromes c6: one from a psychrophilic diatom and one from a mesophilic diatom. Our results demonstrate the importance of alanine to serine substitutions in adapting cytochrome c6 to function in cold environments. Along the way, I’ll discuss some of the opportunities and challenges of doing research at a primarily undergraduate institution, and how first-year students in a General Chemistry CURE (Course- based Undergraduate Research Experience) have made meaningful contributions to my research questions.

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