Loyola University Chicago

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


Gates, Colin

Title/s:  Assistant Professor

Office #:  FH - 022

Phone: 773.508.3091



B.A., 2013, Rutgers University-Newark, Newark, NJ

Ph.D., 2018, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-2021, University of Colorado Boulder (with Jeffrey Cameron), Boulder, CO

Research Interests

Photosystem II. Almost all molecular oxygen and biologically useful energy on Earth is generated via the activity of photosystem II (PSII).  We use a range of tools to examine the assembly, operation, and life cycle of this enzyme complex.  Particular interests include characterization of the cobalt-substituted water-oxidizing catalyst, the only functional inorganic substitution of a redox-active metal in this enzyme; elucidating the mechanism of return of electrons from the acceptor to the donor side of PSII; determining regulatory processes allowing survival of desiccation under stimulating light; and development of tools to observe PSII operation under any feasible operational conditions.

Polyphosphate. Polyphosphate is a significant regulator of the cyanobacterial life cycle, being involved in thylakoid biogenesis, cell orientation, metal metabolism, and biomechanical regulation.  We examine the biochemical and inorganic processes involved with polyphosphate body generation, organization, and regulation of the aforementioned cell processes in cyanobacteria using microscopy, EPR spectroscopy, and photosynthetic efficiency measurements.

Photosynthetic Electron Transport Chain Regulation. We study regulatory factors on the photosynthetic electron transport chain, focusing on the interrelation of redox poise of electron carrier pools and osmotic pressure/osmolyte availability, protein-bicarbonate interactions, critical residue protonation, and secondary sinks such as nitrogen fixation and exopolysaccharides.

Instrument Design. Much of the aforementioned work is carried out using custom-built equipment and software for observation of individual processes across a range of time and spatial scales.  We design and produce cutting-edge instrumentation for observations of photosynthesis.

Selected Publications

Realtime kinetics of the light driven steps of photosynthetic water oxidation in living organisms by “stroboscopic” fluorometry. Gates, C., G. Ananyev, and G.C. Dismukes, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, 2020. 1861(8).

The Catalytic Cycle of Water Oxidation in Crystallized Photosystem II Complexes: Performance and Requirements for Formation of Intermediates. Ananyev, G., S. Roy-Chowdhury, C. Gates, P. Fromme, and G.C. Dismukes, ACS Catalysis, 2019. 9(2): p.1396-1407.

The Multiplicity of Roles for Dissolved Inorganic Carbon in Photosystem II Operation in the Hypercarbonate-requiring Cyanobacterium Arthrospira maxima. Ananyev, G., C. Gates, and G.C. Dismukes, Photosynthetica (Govindjee special edition), 2018. 56(X): p.1-12.

Photosystem II-cyclic electron flow powers exceptional photoprotection and record growth in the microalga Chlorella ohadii. Ananyev, G., C. Gates, A. Kaplan, and G.C. Dismukes, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, 2017. 1858(11): p.873-883.

The strontium inorganic mutant of the water oxidizing center (CaMn4O5) of PSII improves WOC efficiency but slows electron flux through the terminal acceptors. Gates, C., G. Ananyev, and G.C. Dismukes, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, 2016. 1857(9): p. 1550-1560. 

The Oxygen Quantum Yield in Diverse Algae and Cyanobacteria is Controlled by Partitioning of Flux between Linear and Cyclic Electron Flow in Photosystem II. Ananyev, G., C. Gates and G. C. Dismukes, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, 2016. 1857(9): p. 1380-1391.