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ESS Seminar Series: Dr. Christen Grettenberger, "Lessons from Weird Cyanobacteria - Using Gloeobacteria to learn about early photosynthesis"

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Event Details:



May 23, 2024

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Mackenzie Room, Huang 300



Christen Grettenberger, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Department of Environmental Toxicology

University of California Davis


“Lessons from Weird Cyanobacteria - Using Gloeobacteria to learn about early photosynthesis”


The evolution of oxygen-producing photosynthesis was perhaps the most important evolutionary event in all of Earth’s history. It eventually led to the rise of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere which in turn allowed the evolution of complex and multicellular life (including us). Despite its importance, little is known about the evolutionary trajectory that led to oxygenic photosynthesis. My group and collaborators have been mining the genomes of the Gloeobacteria – a sister group to all other photosynthetic bacteria – to examine their physiology and ecology. From these data we aim to answer fundamental questions about the earliest oxygenic phototrophs – where did they live? How well did they do photosynthesis? And what does this all mean for the rise of oxygen?



Dr. Grettenberger is an assistant professor in the Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Environmental Toxicology. Her group uses field and culture-based approaches and cutting-edge techniques in bioinformatics to understand the world around us - from the origin of photosynthesis billions of years ago to how to clean up mining waste.