Photosynthesis at the forefront of a sustainable life

Paul J.D. Janssen, Maya D. Lambreva, Nicolas Plumeré, Cecilia Bartolucci, Amina Antonacci, Katia Buonasera, Raoul N. Frese, Viviana Scognamiglio, Giuseppina Rea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The development of a sustainable bio-based economy has drawn much attention in recent years, and research to and smart solutions to the many inherent challenges has intensified. In nature, perhaps the best example of an authentic sustainable system is oxygenic photosynthesis. The biochemistry of this intricate process is empowered by solar radiation influx and performed by hierarchically organized complexes composed by photoreceptors, inorganic catalysts, and enzymes which define specific niches for optimizing light-to-energy conversion. The success of this process relies on its capability to exploit the almost inexhaustible reservoirs of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to transform photonic energy into chemical energy such as stored in adenosine triphosphate. Oxygenic photosynthesis is responsible for most of the oxygen, fossil fuels, and biomass on our planet. So, even after a few billion years of evolution, this process unceasingly supports life on earth, and probably soon also in outer-space, and inspires the development of enabling technologies for a sustainable global economy and ecosystem. The following review covers some of the major milestones reached in photosynthesis research, each reflecting lasting routes of innovation in agriculture, environmental protection, and clean energy production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in Chemistry
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • artificial photosynthesis
  • biofuels
  • bioremediation
  • biosensors
  • photosynthesis
  • photosynthetic yield improvement
  • space agriculture
  • sustainability


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