Ken Wilson - Algal Photosynthesis and Ecophysiology

Associate Professor and Head
Biology Department
Room 152 Biology Building
112 Science Place
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon  SK  S7N 5E2
tel: (306) 966-4399
fax: (306) 966-4461


The primary goal of my research is to investigate how photosynthetic organisms detect changes in their environment, and respond to protect themselves from stress and cellular damage.

My lab uses model photosynthetic organisms such as the single cell green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and the higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana  because of the molecular genetic resources available. Each organism has advantages and disadvantages for studying photosynthetic processes. We utilize the microbial nature of green algae to develop and test theories on how plants detect changes in and respond to their environment. We can then use Arabidopsis to see if your theories really work.



Current Research Projects




Chloroplast-Nucleus Signaling by Reactive Oxygen Species




Photoprotection of Photosystem I
Functional PSI is required for linear and cyclic electron transport during oxygenic photosynthesis. Unlike PSII, which is undergos a controlled and programmed degradation and repair cycle, PSI is more stable and turns over more slowly. We know that PSI can be come photoinhibited, but the processes that protect PSI from damage caused by photoinhibitory conditions are less clear. Using a Chlamydomonas mutant that lacks the PSAF subunit, leading donor-side limitations, we have identified several photoprotective mechanisms. One of which was the process of state-transitions (see Berry et al 2011 - below)



Identification of Novel Algal Species for Biofuel production and "Phycoremediation"



Recent Publications

LL Berry, P Brzezowski, KE Wilson. 2011. Inactivation of the STT7 gene protects PSAF-deficient Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cells from oxidative stress under high light. Physiologia plantarum 141: 188-196

P Brzezowski, KE Wilson, GR Gray. 2012. The PSBP2 protein of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is required for singlet oxygen-dependent signaling. Planta 236: 1289-1303.

KL Goff, JV Headley, JR Lawrence, KE Wilson. 2013. Assessment of the effects of oil sands naphthenic acids on the growth and morphology of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using microscopic and spectromicroscopic techniques. Science of the Total Environment 442: 116-122

B Skrupski, KE Wilson, KL Goff, J Zou. 2013. Effect of pH on neutral lipid and biomass accumulation in microalgal strains native to the Canadian prairies and the Athabasca oil sands. Journal of Applied Phycology 25: 937-949.

KL Goff, K Peru, KE Wilson, JV Headley. 2014. Evaluation of biologically mediated changes in oil sands naphthenic acid composition by Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using negative-ion electrospray orbitrap mass spectrometry. Journal of Phycology 50: 727-735.

KL Goff, L Quaroni, KE Wilson. 2009. Measurement of metabolite formation in single living cells of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using synchrotron fourier-transform infrared spectromicroscopy. Analyst 134: 2216-2219.