Kathryn Fixen, PhD

Assistant Professor, Plant Biology

Kathryn Fixen

Contact Info

kfixen@umn.edu

Office Phone 612-625-1998

Office Address:
1445 Gortner Avenue
750 Biological Sciences
St. Paul, MN 55108

Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

B.S., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN

Summary

Expertise

microbial physiology, nitrogen fixation, anoxygenic photosynthesis

Research

Research Summary/Interests

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.