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Bryant Receives Prize from the Rebeiz Foundation

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Donald A. Bryant, the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology at Penn State, has received a prize for the best basic research paper of 2007 from the Rebeiz Foundation. The paper for which the award was given was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. A goal of the Rebeiz Foundation for Basic Research is to promote chloroplast and bioengineering research. Each year the organization gives an award for the best research paper on a topic within the fields of chloroplast biochemistry and molecular biology. Bryant shares the 2007 award with Aline Gomez Maqueo Chew, a former Ph.D. student in his laboratory, with whom he co-authored the paper. Gomez Maqueo Chew is presently a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University.

Bryant's research focuses on photosynthesis in bacteria. His long-term objectives are to understand the structure, function, assembly, and regulation of expression of the photosynthetic apparatuses of cyanobacteria and green-sulfur-bacteria. "Cyanobacteria produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis and green-sulfur bacteria can survive only in environments where oxygen is absent," said Bryant. "I find it interesting to study the differences between these two organisms in terms of their physiologies and metabolisms."

To achieve these goals, Bryant has helped to sequence the genomes of three species of cyanobacteria, 13 species of green-sulfur bacteria, seven species of filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs, and one acidobacterium. These data have helped him to discover and characterize important genes that are involved in photosynthesis. The paper for which he won the Rebeiz Foundation award is titled "Characterization of a plant-like protochlorophyllide alpha divinyl reductase in green sulfur bacteria."

Among the current research topics in Bryant's lab are structure-function relationships in proteins, biogenesis of the photosynthetic apparatus, gene regulation, and photosynthetic physiology. To investigate these topics, he uses two model organisms: a species of cyanobacterium, Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002, and the green-sulfur bacterium, Chlorobium tepidum.

Bryant joined the Penn State faculty in 1981 and in 1992 was appointed the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology. In 1995, he was was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology . Bryant was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University from 1979 to 1981, and also completed a National Science Foundation / National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) postdoctoral fellowship at the Pasteur Institute in Paris from 1977 to 1979. Bryant earned his Ph.D. degree in molecular biology at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1977, and he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972.

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CONTACTS
Donald Bryant: (+1) 814-865-1992, dab14@psu.edu
Barbara Kennedy (PIO): 814-863-4682, science@psu.edu

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