Molecular plant biology
University of Turku
Eva-Mari Aro works in the Department of Biology, University of Turku. She is a professor in Plant Physiology and Molecular biology.
Aro's research interest is focused on light reactions of photosynthesis, particularly Photosystem II (PSII) that functions in water splitting reactions in the thylakoid membrane and evolves oxygen to the atmosphere. Besides this basic function of PSII, it also participates in signalling cascades leading to acclimation of plants to changed environmental conditions. Although light is an absolute requirements for the function of photosynthesis, light also damages the components of PSII.
The group of Dr Aro has had an important role in solving the mechanisms of inactivation and damage of PSII in light, in studies of degradation and de novo synthesis of the reaction centre protein D1, and in solving the repair mechanisms and re-assembly of PSII consisting up to 28 different proteins and various co-factors. The group has also studied the physiological significance of reversible phosphorylation of several PSII proteins, the regulation of phosphorylation/dephosphorylation reactions and their involvement in relay of signals from prevailing environment to the genome level. Using transgenic plants and point mutagenesis the group has studied possibilities to alleviate photodamage to PSII and to enhance the repair of PSII. Generally the damage to PSII is accelerated if other stress factors like extremes of temperature, drought or pollution are affecting in combination with light.