SUN Chloroplast E-book

Ann Batiza, Ph.D., ( , David Goodsell, Ph.D. (, David Marcey, Ph.D. (, Mark Hoelzer (, David Nelson, Ph.D. (, Kari Renzelman (, Bob Hanson Ph.D. ( and other members of the Undergraduate SUN Research Group

The SUN Chloroplast E-book is a free resource for undergraduate self-guided exploration. It can also be used by high school biology and AP biology teachers in a targeted way to help their students understand both the “HOW” and the “WHY” of PHOTOSYNTHESIS. This interactive environment was developed through IES and National Science Foundation funding and is available via a link at Milwaukee School of Engineering’s SUN Project here.
Click here for a YouTube introduction to the E-book.

As the pioneering microbiologist A.J. Kluyver stated,

“…the most fundamental character of the living state is the occurrence in parts of the cell of a continuous and directed movement of electrons.”

[Kluyver, A.J. and C.B. van Niel (1956) The Microbe’s Contribution to Biology. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, p. 71.]

This statement lacks meaning for many who wish to understand how energy is transferred during cellular respiration and photosynthesis; the SUN Chloroplast E-book provides an explanation regarding the process of photosynthesis.

The initial CHLOROPLAST page allows one to explore major protein complexes of the electron transport chain in the context of a molecular landscape. Items selected in that context are simultaneously highlighted within the nested trays that hold SUN (Students Understanding eNergy) Project manipulatives and within a simple schematic. Animations in all three contexts set the stage for further exploration.

The Electron Transport Chain page synchronizes the detailed path of electrons (ultimately HOW carbon is fixed) with the z-scheme (WHY electrons move).

Additional pages are devoted to key protein complexes such as photosystem II, photosystem I and the proton pump CYTOCHROME b6f. These pages allow one to explore the path of electrons with schematics and animations. Dynamic presentations of the z-scheme are synchronized with the path of electrons within each photosystem to illustrate how light provides the energy required to initiate electron movement. This e-book also allows one to explore structures by removing and adding back individual protein chains and electron carriers.

The ATP SYNTHASE page similarly allows for intuitive exploration of protein structure and function. In addition, a library of interactive Jmol tutorials provides in-depth analysis of structure/function relationships of key protein complexes.

We appreciate helpful discussions with SUN Project co-founder Mary Gruhl, Ph.D. and additional members of the NSF-funded Undergraduate SUN Project Research Group including: Gul Afshan, Ph.D., Jeff Hardin, Ph.D., Carol Hirschmugl, Ph.D., Mary Ellen Kraus, Ph.D., Faisal Shaikh, Ph.D., Javier Velasco; and Bo Zhang, Ph.D.

This material is based upon work supported by the Institute of Education Sciences under award number R305B070443 and by the National Science Foundation under award number DUE-1044898. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute for Education Sciences nor the National Science Foundation.

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