Kathryn Fixen

Assistant Professor

Research Summary

How do bacteria control electron flow inside the cell and how can we tap  into this reducing power for biotechnological purposes? In the Fixen lab, we are working to understand intracellular electron flow in the anoxygenic phototroph, Rhodopseudomonas palustris (R. pal). R. pal can use energy from sunlight and reducing power generated from organic  compounds such as lignin to make energy-rich compounds like hydrogen and  methane using the enzyme nitrogenase. To understand intracellular  electron flow in R. pal, we are working to characterize components of electron transfer and understand how the components are regulated by changes in the environment. Ongoing projects in the lab include 1) understanding the role of redox regulation in controlling  electron flow in an anaerobe, and 2) the role and regulation of electron  carrier proteins in an anoxygenic phototroph. By understanding  intracellular electron transfer, we hope to find ways to direct electrons towards producing large amounts of energy-rich, reduced compounds like hydrogen.