ERC consolidator project  – BEAL

Bioenergetics in microalgae : regulation modes of mitochondrial respiration, photosynthesis, and fermentative pathways, and their interactions in secondary algae

 (ERC-CoG-2015 – ERC Consolidator Grant – BEAL Grant agreement ID: 682580)


During the course of eukaryote evolution, photosynthesis was propagated from primary eukaryotic algae to non-photosynthetic organisms through multiple secondary endosymbiotic events. Collectively referred to as “secondary algae”, these photosynthetic organisms account for only 1-2% of the total global biomass, but produce a far larger part of the global annual fixation of carbon on Earth.
ATP is the universal chemical energy carrier in living cells. In photosynthetic eukaryotes, it is produced by two major cellular processes: photosynthesis and respiration taking place in chloroplasts and mitochondria, respectively. Both processes support the production of biomass and govern gas (O2 and CO2) exchanges. On the other hand, anaerobic fermentative enzymes have also been identified in several primary and secondary algae. The regulation modes and interactions of respiration, photosynthesis and fermentation are fairly well understood in primary green algae. Conversely, the complex evolutionary history of secondary algae implies a great variety of original regulatory mechanisms that have been barely investigated to date.
Over the last years my laboratory has developed and optimized a range of multidisciplinary approaches that now allow us, within the frame of the BEAL (BioEnergetics in microALgae) project, to (i) characterize and compare the photosynthetic regulation modes by biophysical approaches, (ii) use genetic and biochemical approaches to gain fundamental knowledge on aerobic respiration and anaerobic fermentative pathways, and (iii) investigate and compare interconnections between respiration, photosynthesis, and fermentation in organisms resulting from distinct evolutionary scenarios. On a long term, these developments will be instrumental to unravel bioenergetics constraints on growth in microalgae, a required knowledge to exploit the microalgal diversity in a biotechnological perspective, and to understand the complexity of the marine phytoplankton.


Pierre Cardol

Pierre CARDOL, PhD

FRS-FNRS Senior Research Associate

Tél. : +32 (0) 43 66 38 40


Hector Vicente MIRANDA-ASTUDILLO (Post-doc 2016-2018) Structure and function of respiratory and photosyntethic complexes of Euglena gracilis

Javier Francisco CÓRDOBA JACOSTE (Post-doc 2016-2019)
Comparative transcriptomics and proteomics in Euglena gracilis

Mattia PIERANGELINI (Post-Doc 2018-2020)
Photosynthesis in free-living and symbiotic dinoflagellates

Alexandre LAMBION (technician 2016-2018)
Photoprotection in Euglena gracilis

Felix VEGA DE LUNA (PhD student 2017-2021)

Photosynthesis and respiration in Symbiodinium and Euglena gracilis

Gwenaëlle GAIN (PhD student 2017-2021)
Fermentative pathways and their interaction with photosynthesis in microalgae

Alain Gervasi (technician 2018-2021)
Assembly of devices to monitor growth and physiology of microalgae (botabotlab)

Tom F

Tom Feller (Researcher 2020-2021)
Maintenance of aquarium and breeding of endosymbiotic animals, photosynthesis in symbiotic animals

Charles Counson  (2016-2017)
Phylogenomics analysis of ETR components in microalgae


Participation of Pierre Cardol and Felix Vega de Luna to TARA mission in Palau to study photophysiology of Symbiodinium (Uliege news 05/11/2018)

Participation of Pierre Cardol and Felix Vega de Luna to TARA mission in Palau to study photophysiology of Symbiodinium (Daily Science, 17/12/2018)

Décrypter les processus bioénergétiques des microalgues (Uliege news, 26/02/16)

Wordle Cardol ERC BEAL


Miranda-Astudillo HV, Yadav KNS, Boekema EJ, Cardol P. : Supramolecular associations between atypical oxidative phosphorylation complexes of Euglena gracilis. J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2021 Mar 1. doi: 10.1007/s10863-021-09882-8. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33646522

Vega de Luna F, Córdoba-Granados JJ, Dang KV, Roberty S, Cardol P. : In vivo assessment of mitochondrial respiratory alternative oxidase activity and cyclic electron flow around photosystem I on small coral fragments. Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 15;10(1):17514. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74557-0. PMID: 33060749

Pierangelini M, Thiry M, Cardol P.  : Different levels of energetic coupling between photosynthesis and respiration do not determine the occurrence of adaptive responses of Symbiodiniaceae to global warming. New Phytol. 2020 Jun 14. doi: 10.1111/nph.16738. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32535971

Dang KV, Pierangelini M, Roberty S, Cardol P : Alternative photosynthetic electron transfers and bleaching phenotypes upon acute heat stress in Symbiodinium and Breviolum spp.(Symbiodiniaceae) in culture. Frontiers in Marine Science 2019 6:656 DOI=10.3389/fmars.2019.00656

Vega de Luna F, Dang KV, Cardol M, Roberty S, Cardol P: Photosynthetic capacity of the endosymbiotic dinoflagellate Cladocopium sp. is preserved during digestion of its jellyfish host Mastigias papua by the anemone Entacmaea medusivora. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2019 Oct 1;95(10). pii: fiz141. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiz141.

Berne N, Fabryova T, Istaz B, Cardol P, Bailleul B : The peculiar NPQ regulation in the stramenopile Phaeomonas sp. challenges the xanthophyll cycle dogma.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2018 Jul;1859(7):491-500.

Miranda Astudillo H, Colina-Tenorio L, Jiménez-Suárez A, Vázquez-Acevedo M, Salin B, Giraud M-F, Boekema EJ, Cardol P, González-Halphen D : Oxidative phosphorylation supercomplexes and respirasome reconstitution of the colorless alga Polytomella sp.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2018 Jun;1859(6):434-444.

Miranda-Astudillo H, Yadav S, Colina-Tenorio L, Bouillenne F, Degand H, Morsomme P, Boekema E J, Cardol P : The atypical subunit composition of respiratory complexes I and IV is associated with original extra structural domains in Euglena gracilis.
Sci Rep. 2018 Jun 26;8(1):9698.

Massoz S, Hanikenne M, Bailleul B, Coosemans N, Radoux M, Miranda Astudillo H, Cardol P, Larosa V, Remacle C : In vivo chlorophyll fluorescence screening allows the isolation of a Chlamydomonas mutant defective for NDUFAF3, an assembly factor involved in mitochondrial complex I assembly.
Plant J. 2017 Nov;92(4):584-595.

Cardol P, Krieger-Liskay A : From light capture to metabolic needs, oxygenic photosynthesis is an ever-expanding field of study in plants, algae and cyanobacteria.
Physiol Plant. 2017 Sep;161(1):2-5.

Sánchez-Vásquez L, Vázquez-Acevedo M, de la Mora J, Vega-deLuna F, Cardol P, Remacle C, Dreyfus G, González-Halphen D. Near-neighbor interactions of the membrane-embedded subunits of the mitochondrial ATP synthase of a chlorophycean alga.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017 Jul;1858(7):497-509.

Yadav S, Miranda-Astudillo H, Colina-Tenorio L, Bouillenne F, Degand H, Morsomme P, González-Halphen D, Boekema EJ, Cardol P : Atypical composition and structure of the mitochondrial dimeric ATP synthase from Euglena gracilis.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Bioenergetics 2017 Apr;1858(4):267-275.

Emonds-Alt B, Coosemans N, Gerards T, Remacle C, Cardol P : Isolation and characterization of mutants corresponding to the MENA, MENB, MENC, and MENE enzymatic steps of 5′-monohydroxyphylloquinone biosynthesis in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.
The Plant Journal 2017 Jan; 89(1): 141–154.