Photosynthesis: Life from Light

Image of molecules over photo of green plant.

Photosynthesis is carried out by many different organisms, ranging from plants to bacteria. (Image by Dr. Peter Weigele.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2006



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Course Description

In this course, you will journey through the web of physical, chemical, and biological reactions that collectively constitute photosynthesis. We will begin with light harvesting and follow photons to the sites of primary photochemistry: the photoreaction centers. A molecular-scale view will show in atomic detail how these protein complexes capture and energize electrons. Then we will follow the multiple pathways electrons take as they carry out their work. Consequent reactions, such as the synthesis of ATP and the reduction of CO2 during the synthesis of carbohydrates, will also be discussed in structural detail. Lastly, we will delve into the evolution of these systems and also discuss other photosynthetic strategies, such as light-driven proton pumps and anoxygenic photosynthesis. The course will include a visit to an electron microscope to allow students to directly observe proteins involved in photosynthesis.

This course is one of many Advanced Undergraduate Seminars offered by the Biology Department at MIT. These seminars are tailored for students with an interest in using primary research literature to discuss and learn about current biological research in a highly interactive setting. Many instructors of the Advanced Undergraduate Seminars are postdoctoral scientists with a strong interest in teaching.

Weigele, Peter, and Yongting Wang. 7.343 Photosynthesis: Life from Light, Fall 2006. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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