Dr. Hüner's research is focused on the mechanisms by which photosynthetic organisms initially sense changes in their environment with respect to temperature, light intensity and nutrient availability and subsequently adjust to these changes at the molecular, biochemical and physiological levels. Dr. Hüner's research team has discovered a general mechanism by which plants, green algae and cyanbacteria sense changes in their environment. Photostasis is a state whereby photosynthetic organisms maintain a balance between energy input through photochemistry and energy utilization through metabolism. Changes in light intensity, temperature and nutrient status disrupt this balance in energy status which can be detected as changes in ‘excitation pressure’ (Hüner et al., 1998, Trends in Plant Sciences, 3: 224-230). Thus, the photosynthetic apparatus acts not only as an energy transformer but also acts as a sensor for the detection of environmental changes. Research in this laboratory is elucidating the nature of this sensor as well as the mechanisms by which this redox sensor regulates gene expression and controls the structure, composition and function of the photosynthetic apparatus in order to maintain photostasis in plants, algae and cyanbacteria.
Research in Dr. Hüner's laboratory relies on biochemical, physiological and molecular techniques. These include: absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy; high pressure liquid chromatography; techniques for the isolation and purification of proteins, nucleic acids and membranes, column chromatography, ultra centrifugation, gel electronphoresis; gas exchange; enzyme kinetics; transmission electron microscopy.