Former 'Idol' finalist headlines Festival of Music at Polytechnic campus

April 2, 2012

The ASU Polytechnic campus will host its Festival of Music from 4 to 9 p.m., April 5, at the Parade Grounds on the west side of campus. The event will feature music, games and booths by ASU polytechnic student organizations. 

Former “American Idol” finalist, Jackie Tohn, will headline the event. Tohn appeared on season eight, making it to the top 36 (the semifinals). She also competed in the songwriting competition series “Platinum Hit” on the Bravo network last year. Download Full Image

Jamie Reynolds, Phoenix resident and the lead vocalist and guitarist for the band 1967, will also play at the Festival of Music.

Sponsored by the Programming and Activities Board (PAB), the event is part of the campus’ Thing on Thursday line-up. Thing on Thursday is a College of Technology and Innovation initiative that hosts interactive and campus-wide events every Thursday throughout the school year. 

“The Festival of Music is a great way for students to learn more about different organizations on campus and have fun at the same time,” said Lauren Jeffrey, PAB president. “In addition to Jackie Tohn, we will also feature some local bands. We would love for students from all campuses to come join us at for a great evening of music and games.”

ASU team shines new light on photosynthesis

April 2, 2012

Photosynthesis is one of the fundamental processes of life on Earth. The evolutionary transition from anoxygenic (no oxygen produced) to oxygenic (oxygen-producing) photosynthesis resulted in the critical development of atmospheric oxygen in amounts large enough to allow the evolution of organisms that use oxygen, including plants and mammals. 

One of the outstanding questions of the early Earth is how ancient organisms made this transition. A team of scientists from Arizona State University has moved us closer to understanding how this occurred, in a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, titled "Light-driven oxygen production from superoxide by manganese-binding bacterial reaction centers," is authored by James Allen, JoAnn Williams, Tien Le Olson, Aaron Tufts, Paul Oyala and Wei-Jen Lee, all from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. leaf Download Full Image

Plants and algae, as well as cyanobacteria, use photosynthesis to produce oxygen and “fuels,” the latter being oxidizable substances like carbohydrates and hydrogen. There are two pigment-protein complexes that orchestrate the primary reactions of light in oxygenic photosynthesis: photosystem I and photosystem II.

“In photosynthesis, the oxygen is produced at a special metal site containing four manganese and one calcium atom connected together as a metal cluster,” explains professor James Allen. “ This cluster is bound to the protein called photosystem II that provides a carefully controlled environment for the cluster.”

On illumination, two water molecules bound at the cluster are split into molecular oxygen and four protons.  Since water molecules are very stable, this process requires that the metal cluster be capable of efficiently performing very energetic reactions.   

Allen, Williams and coworkers are trying to understand how a primitive anoxygenic organism that was capable of performing only simple low energy reactions could have evolved into oxygen-producing photosynthesis.  

They have been manipulating the reaction center of the purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides encouraging it to acquire the functions of photosystem II. In the recent publication, they describe how a mononuclear manganese bound to the reaction center has gained some of the functional features of the metal cluster of photosystem II. 

Although the mononuclear manganese cannot split water, it can react with reactive oxygen species to produce molecular oxygen. These results suggest that the evolution of photosynthesis might well have proceeded through intermediates that were capable of oxygen production and served until a protein with a bound manganese-calcium cluster evolved. 

Jenny Green

Clinical associate professor, School of Molecular Sciences