The research in the Rodenfels group focuses on understanding how energetics shape the behaviour of out of equilibrium biological systems. We are particularly interested in developing approaches to quantify the overall energetics of living systems and understand how cells and organisms use and partition their energy among the complex array of cellular processes that are necessary for life at any scale, from isolated biochemical networks to quiescent and highly proliferative cells to organismal growth and development.

Energetics of Biological Systems

Living biological systems are metabolically active, open systems that constantly exchange matter and energy with their environment. They function out of thermodynamic equilibrium and continuously use metabolic pathways to obtain energy to fulfill the systems energetic requirements to stay alive, grow, and develop.

Although work over the last decades has highlighted the principle(s) of how metabolism allows cells to proliferate at the level of biochemical networks within cells, the general framework for the energetic principles that maintain and govern cellular states remains poorly defined. How much energy does a cell require to stay alive and maintain a non-equilibrium state? An organism? How much more energy does that organism need to grow and develop? How much energy is required for various cellular processes and how efficiently is it used? What are the energetic changes and constrains associated with different environmental and pathological conditions?

We are interested in studying these crucial aspects of biological systems using a combination of experimental model systems (zebrafish, frog, egg extracts, tissue culture cells and in-vitro reconstituted systems) and biochemical, biophysical, genetic, molecular biology and imaging approaches that bridge the intersection between cell/developmental biology and biophysics. Please visit Projects for more detailed information about our ongoing research.