Dr Matt Johnson
0114 222 4418
Honours and Distinctions
Plant science, photosynthesis, thylakoid membranes, high-resolution microscopy
My research is focused on the role of thylakoid membrane organisation in photosynthesis, the process that uses solar energy to transform water and carbon dioxide into the energy we consume and the oxygen we breathe. The enzymatic fixation of carbon dioxide into carbohydrate in the chloroplast stroma requires energy in the form of ATP and reducing power in the form of NADPH, which are provided by photosynthetic electron transport in the thylakoid membrane. The thylakoid membrane houses several major pigment-protein complexes involved electron transport including photosystem II, the water splitting enzyme, cytochrome b6f, photosystem I and ATP synthase. The efficiency of photosynthesis depends upon the rate of excitation energy transfer, the diffusion of electron carriers and the effectiveness of regulatory and repair processes, which in turn depend upon the spatial organisation of the pigment-protein complexes in the membrane.
I use a multidisciplinary approach combining high resolution imaging techniques such as atomic force microscopy, affinity-mapping AFM and stochastic super-optical microscopy (STORM/ PALM) with membrane biochemistry to elucidate how these complexes are spatially organised within the membrane. These state-of-the-art single molecule techniques allow me to gently image the membranes in their natural liquid environment thus preserving the native organisation of the pigment-protein complexes within. Armed with the complete picture of how the protein complexes of photosynthesis fit together in the membrane we can identify new genetic targets for improving the efficiency of photosynthesis for increased food and biofuel production. Understanding natural photosynthetic membrane organisation will also allow us to better imitate nature and so improve the design of artificial solar cells and carbon capture devices to provide green energy and a low carbon future for the planet.
Level 2 Modules
Level 1 Modules
I welcome applications from prospective home / EU PhD students for two fully funded PhD studentships: see details below.
You can apply for a PhD position in MBB here.
Contact me at email@example.com for further information.
- Johnson MP (2016) Photosynthesis. Essays In Biochemistry, 60(3), 255-273. View this article in WRRO
- Stone JE, Sener M, Vandivort KL, Barragan A, Singharoy A, Teo I, Ribeiro JV, Isralewitz B, Liu B, Goh BC, Phillips JC, MacGregor-Chatwin C, Johnson MP, Kourkoutis LF, Hunter CN & Schulten K (2015) Atomic detail visualization of photosynthetic membranes with GPU-accelerated ray tracing. Parallel Computing, 55, 17-27. View this article in WRRO
- Benson SL, Maheswaran P, Ware MA, Hunter CN, Horton P, Jansson S, Ruban AV & Johnson MP (2015) An intact light harvesting complex I antenna system is required for complete state transitions in Arabidopsis. Nature Plants, 1(12), 15176-15176. View this article in WRRO
- Ruban AV & Johnson MP (2015) Visualizing the dynamic structure of the plant photosynthetic membrane. Nature Plants, 1(11), 15161-15161.
- Huete-Ortega M, Johnson MP, Gilmour J, Okurowska K & Vaidyanathan S (2015) LINKAGE BETWEEN PHOTOSYNTHESIS AND NITROGEN METABOLISM ON THE ACCUMULATION OF LIPIDS IN MICROALGAE. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHYCOLOGY, 50, 39-40.
- Patole S, Vasilev C, El-Zubir O, Wang L, Johnson MP, Cadby AJ, Leggett GJ & Hunter CN (2015) Interference lithographic nanopatterning of plant and bacterial light-harvesting complexes on gold substrates. Interface Focus, 5(4). View this article in WRRO
- Cousins AB, Johnson M & Leakey ADB (2014) Photosynthesis and the environment. Photosynthesis Research, 119(1-2), 1-2.
- Johnson MP, Vasilev C, Olsen JD & Hunter CN (2014) Nanodomains of Cytochrome b 6 f and Photosystem II Complexes in Spinach Grana Thylakoid Membranes. The Plant Cell, 26(7), 3051-3061. View this article in WRRO
- Vasilev C, Johnson MP, Gonzales E, Wang L, Ruban AV, Montano G, Cadby AJ & Hunter CN (2014) Reversible Switching between Nonquenched and Quenched States in Nanoscale Linear Arrays of Plant Light-Harvesting Antenna Complexes. Langmuir, 30(28), 8481-8490.
- Krüger TPJ, Ilioaia C, van Grondelle R, Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2014) Disentangling the low-energy states of the major light-harvesting complex of plants and their role in photoprotection. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics.
- Kruger TPJ, Ilioaia C, Johnson MP, Belgio E, Horton P, Ruban AV & van Grondelle R (2013) The Specificity of Controlled Protein Disorder in the Photoprotection of Plants. BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 105(4), 1018-1026.
- Ilioaia C, Duffy CDP, Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2013) Changes in the energy transfer pathways within photosystem II antenna induced by xanthophyll cycle activity. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 117(19), 5841-5847.
- Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2013) Rethinking the existence of a steady-state Δψ component of the proton motive force across plant thylakoid membranes. Photosynthesis Research, 1-10. View this article in WRRO
- Rutkauskas D, Chmeliov J, Johnson M, Ruban A & Valkunas L (2012) Exciton annihilation as a probe of the light-harvesting antenna transition into the photoprotective mode. Chemical Physics, 404, 123-128.
- Krüger TPJ, Ilioaia C, Johnson MP, Ruban AV, Papagiannakis E, Horton P & Van Grondelle R (2012) Controlled disorder in plant light-harvesting complex II explains its photoprotective role. Biophysical Journal, 102(11), 2669-2676.
- Johnson MP, Zia A & Ruban AV (2012) Elevated ΔpH restores rapidly reversible photoprotective energy dissipation in Arabidopsis chloroplasts deficient in lutein and xanthophyll cycle activity. Planta, 235(1), 193-204.
- Belgio E, Johnson MP, Jurić S & Ruban AV (2012) Higher plant photosystem II light-harvesting antenna, not the reaction center, determines the excited-state lifetime - Both the maximum and the nonphotochemically quenched. Biophysical Journal, 102(12), 2761-2771.
- Ruban AV, Johnson MP & Duffy CDP (2011) Natural light harvesting: principles and environmental trends. Energy & Environmental Science, 4(5), 1643-1643.
- Zia A, Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2011) Acclimation- and mutation-induced enhancement of PsbS levels affects the kinetics of non-photochemical quenching in Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta, 233(6), 1253-1264.
- Johnson MP, Brain APR & Ruban AV (2011) Changes in thylakoid membrane thickness associated with the reorganization of photosystem II light harvesting complexes during photoprotective energy dissipation. Plant Signaling and Behavior, 6(9), 1386-1390.
- Stadnichuk IN, Bulychev AA, Lukashev EP, Sinetova MP, Khristin MS, Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2011) Far-red light-regulated efficient energy transfer from phycobilisomes to photosystem i in the red microalga Galdieria sulphuraria and photosystems-related heterogeneity of phycobilisome population. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics, 1807(2), 227-235.
- Goral TK, Johnson MP, Duffy CDP, Brain APR, Ruban AV & Mullineaux CW (2011) Light-harvesting antenna composition controls the macrostructure and dynamics of thylakoid membranes in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal.
- Ilioaia C, Johnson MP, Duffy CDP, Pascal AA, Van Grondelle R, Robert B & Ruban AV (2011) Origin of absorption changes associated with photoprotective energy dissipation in the absence of zeaxanthin. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 286(1), 91-98.
- Ilioaia C, Johnson MP, Liao PN, Pascal AA, Van Grondelle R, Walla PJ, Ruban AV & Robert B (2011) Photoprotection in plants involves a change in lutein 1 binding domain in the major light-harvesting complex of photosystem II. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 286(31), 27247-27254.
- Johnson MP, Goral TK, Duffy CDP, Brain APR, Mullineaux CW & Ruban AV (2011) Photoprotective energy dissipation involves the reorganization of photosystem II light-harvesting complexes in the grana membranes of spinach chloroplasts. Plant Cell, 23(4), 1468-1479.
- Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2011) Restoration of rapidly reversible photoprotective energy dissipation in the absence of PsbS protein by enhanced ΔpH. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 286(22), 19973-19981.
- Ruban AV, Johnson MP & Duffy CDP (2011) The photoprotective molecular switch in the photosystem II antenna. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics.
- Goral TK, Johnson MP, Brain APR, Kirchhoff H, Ruban AV & Mullineaux CW (2010) Visualising the mobility and distribution of chlorophyll-proteins in higher plant thylakoid membranes: effects of photoinhibition and protein phosphorylation. The Plant Journal.
- Duffy CDP, Johnson MP, MacErnis M, Valkunas L, Barford W & Ruban AV (2010) A theoretical investigation of the photophysical consequences of major plant light-harvesting complex aggregation within the photosynthetic membrane. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 114(46), 15244-15253.
- Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2010) Arabidopsis plants lacking PsbS protein possess photoprotective energy dissipation.. Plant J, 61(2), 283-289.
- Johnson MP, Zia A, Horton P & Ruban AV (2010) Effect of xanthophyll composition on the chlorophyll excited state lifetime in plant leaves and isolated LHCII. Chemical Physics, 373(1-2), 23-32.
- Goral TK, Johnson MP, Brain APR, Kirchhoff H, Ruban AV & Mullineaux CW (2010) Visualizing the mobility and distribution of chlorophyll proteins in higher plant thylakoid membranes: Effects of photoinhibition and protein phosphorylation. Plant Journal, 62(6), 948-959.
- Ruban AV & Johnson MP (2010) Xanthophylls as modulators of membrane protein function. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 504(1), 78-85.
- Ruban AV & Johnson MP (2009) Dynamics of higher plant photosystem cross-section associated with state transitions. Photosynthesis Research, 99(3), 173-183.
- Johnson MP & Ruban AV (2009) Photoprotective energy dissipation in higher plants involves alteration of the excited state energy of the emitting chlorophyll(s) in the light harvesting antenna II (LHCII). Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284(35), 23592-23601.
- Damkjær JT, Kereïche S, Johnson MP, Kovacs L, Kiss AZ, Boekema EJ, Ruban AV, Horton P & Jansson S (2009) The photosystem II light-harvesting protein Lhcb3 affects the macrostructure of photosystem II and the rate of state transitions in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 21(10), 3245-3256.
- Johnson MP, Pérez-Bueno ML, Zia A, Horton P & Ruban AV (2009) The zeaxanthin-independent and zeaxanthin-dependent qE components of nonphotochemical quenching involve common conformational changes within the photosystem II antenna in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology, 149(2), 1061-1075.
- Johnson MP, Davison PA, Ruban AV & Horton P (2008) The xanthophyll cycle pool size controls the kinetics of non-photochemical quenching in Arabidopsis thaliana.. FEBS Lett, 582(2), 262-266.
- Ilioaia C, Johnson MP, Horton P & Ruban AV (2008) Induction of efficient energy dissipation in the isolated light-harvesting complex of photosystem II in the absence of protein aggregation. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283(43), 29505-29512.
- Horton P, Johnson MP, Perez-Bueno ML, Kiss AZ & Ruban AV (2008) Photosynthetic acclimation: Does the dynamic structure and macro-organisation of photosystem II in higher plant grana membranes regulate light harvesting states?. FEBS Journal, 275(6), 1069-1079.
- Pérez-Bueno ML, Johnson MP, Zia A, Ruban AV & Horton P (2008) The Lhcb protein and xanthophyll composition of the light harvesting antenna controls the ΔpH-dependency of non-photochemical quenching in Arabidopsis thaliana. FEBS Letters, 582(10), 1477-1482.
- Johnson MP, Havaux M, Triantaphylidès C, Ksas B, Pascal AA, Robert B, Davison PA, Ruban AV & Horton P (2007) Elevated zeaxanthin bound to oligomeric LHCII enhances the resistance of Arabidopsis to photooxidative stress by a lipid-protective, antioxidant mechanism.. J Biol Chem, 282(31), 22605-22618.
- Johnson M, Havaux M, Triantaphylides C, Ksas B, Pascal A, Robert B, Davison P, Ruban A & Horton P (2007) Elevated zeaxanthin bound to oligomeric LHCII enhances the resistance of Arabidopsis to photo-oxidative stress by a lipid-protective, anti-oxidant mechanism. PHOTOSYNTH RES, 91(2-3), 319-319.
Conference proceedings papers
- Adams PG, Vasilev C, Collins AM, Montano GA, Hunter CN & Johnson MP (2016) Redesigning Photosynthetic Membranes: Development of Bio-Inspired Photonic Nanomaterials. BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, Vol. 110(3) (pp 19A-19A)