Photosynthetic life in desert sand crusts
Although photosynthetic organisms require water and are sensitive to high light intensities, organisms inhabiting desert sand crusts thrive with only several hours of hydration each day and extreme light intensities during the desiccation period. The aim of the project is to understand the mechanisms allowing photosynthetic organisms to thrive in the harsh, unfavorable conditions of the desert. We are currently looking into the protection mechanisms utilized by desert crust cyanobacteria and will soon expand to other photosynthetic organisms in the desert crust community and the interactions between them. The research is conducted using various spectroscopic techniques, both steady state and time-resolved, as well as biochemical and structural analyses.