Electron Transport Chain: A rollercoaster ride that produces energy
Help a group of engineers figure out if a mysterious dark alga is able to do photosynthesis using green light and measure this process with the Hill reaction. If it is, your work will help create a sustainable plan that will use sunlight and pollution sources for biofuel production.
- High School
- University / College
About This Simulation
In the Electron Transport Chain simulation, you’ll meet Roxy, the lead engineer for a project in north Alaska. Here, environmental protection has been made a priority. With VR, you will fly over the ocean on a journey to discover that the most problematic facilities are the coal power plant and the fish farm, which are causing glacier melting and eutrophication. But fear not, Roxy has come up with a brilliant idea to produce biofuel from algae using the excess of nutrients from the fish farm and the heat and CO2 from the coal plant. When scuba diving, she found some mysterious dark algae and now she needs your help to figure out if the algae can use green light to perform photosynthesis.
Use the Hill reaction and spectrophotometry
Most plants are green, so they reflect this colour and absorb other wavelengths, which they use for photosynthesis. However, green is a major component of the visible light spectrum, so combining algae that use green light with algae that use other wavelengths maximises the use of sunlight. In this simulation, you will use the Hill reaction and spectrophotometry to measure electron flow and find out if the pigments can use green light for photosynthesis.
Look inside a chloroplast
To understand how photosynthesis works, you will shrink to a tiny size and see what happens during the electron transport chain. You will be able to click on the different molecules to see electrons and protons moving, water molecules splitting and the ATP synthase spinning around to pump protons and produce ATP.
Don’t forget your controls!
Dr. One has already extracted pigments for you. It can be very handy to have a virtual assistant! Now, to check out if the pigments can use green light, you will set up an experiment. In order to properly test your hypothesis, you will need to prepare and measure your sample, as well as positive and negative controls.
The Hill reaction uses DCPIP, a redox dye, which helps measure the electron flow from photosystem II. By comparing the absorption spectra of your pigment sample exposed to green light only in the spectrophotometer to those of the controls, you will be able to figure out if the dark algae are able to perform photosynthesis using green light or not.
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