About Jingchun Li's Work
Humans rely on plants and algae to perform biological photosynthesis, providing us food, fuel, and commodities. However, plants and algae mainly use photosynthesis to power their own metabolism, only a small fraction is devoted to generate products for us to harvest, making our agriculture/industry inefficient. Some marine animals, such as corals and clams, have a different relationship with photosynthetic algae. They “farm” algae inside their own tissues, drastically increase algal photosynthetic efficiency, and “persuade” algae to export large amount of nutrient to the animals. Learning their solutions will fundamentally change the way we utilize photosynthesis and solar energy. The Li Lab at CU Boulder focuses on deciphering the genetic and molecular mechanisms behind the animals’ strategies. A Packard Fellowship will help me identify specific genes, chemical signals, and biological pathways used by the animals to efficiently harvest photosynthetic energy.