Jeffrey Scott Jalovec – Seminar/PhD Preliminary Defense – Friday, December 15, 2017 at 9:00 A.M.

JSNN – Jeffrey Scott Jalovec – Ph.D. Preliminary Defense/Friday Seminar

Candidate: Jeffrey Scott Jalovec

Advisor and Committee Chair: Daniel J. Herr, Ph.D.

Department: Nanoscience

Time: 9:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M.

Location: JSNN Auditorium

2907 E. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro, NC 27401

Title: “Improved Photosynthetic Rates for Increased Biomass by Addition of Fluorescent Compounds and Evolutionary Response to Monochromatic Light Environments.”


Photosynthesis is one of the oldest and most important chemical reactions for life as we know it. It is performed by most plants, algae, and cyanobacteria, also known as photoautotrophs, to supply the energy they need to grow and proliferate. The energy produced is in turn ingested, directly or indirectly, and used by all other living organisms on the planet. In this photochemical process, light energy from the sun is converted into chemical energy that can be stored as carbohydrate molecules, such as sugars, and be used at a later time by the organism to perform its’ activities. The reaction involves converting carbon dioxide and water into sugars with a waste product of oxygen and is, therefore, the primary process for generating and maintaining the oxygen levels in the atmosphere and for sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Many photosynthetic organisms are slow growing and increasing the speed at which they grow can lead to increased amounts of crops for food, textiles, lumber and, in the case of cyanobacteria, biomass for conversion to biofuels. This research aims to explore the relationship between photosynthesis and light environments.

First, exploration of the effect of fluorescent compounds, i.e. those that absorb UV light and emit photosynthetically useful blue light (D282 and carbon quantum dots), in golden flax plants was performed with the hypothesis that the treated plants would grow faster than nontreated plants. The fluorescent compounds were added to the nutrient stream and taken up by the plants. These compounds supplied additional blue light energy to the plant reaction centers and the additional blue light increased the overall growth rate of the plants by ~40% over plants without the fluorescent additives. Next, similar experiments are being conducted using Synechococcus elongatus to ensure comparable results occur within other photoautotrophs. The hypothesis being that we should see a similar boost to the growth rates of the bacteria as we saw in the plants. Finally, Synechococcus elongatus grown in limited light environments (monochromatic) will be analyzed for evolutionary changes to the genome that occur. The hypothesis being that the bacteria will evolve to have an increased amount of accessory pigments present and that will yield an increase in the growth rate of the bacteria in various light environments.