Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsMankind faces very many major global challenges at the moment. These include issues around global energy security, global food security, global water security. The study of biochemistry can help in many of these problems. Biochemistry is essentially a discipline that looks at the changes in energy in various forms of life. And there are many processes that we can use biochemistry to help improve energy harvesting, for example, the harvesting of light energy. We understand the harvesting of light energy much better as a consequence of understanding the biochemical molecules in plants - the proteins that are involved in harvesting that light energy.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsBy understanding better how to harvest light energy, we have a greater chance of being able to actually utilise that light energy in different ways as future energy sources for this world. Many bacteria in their energy inter conversions use biochemical enzymes to convert energy between different forms. If we can break into those processes we can actually harness bacteria, for example, to produce bioenergy, or a form of bioelectricity whereby bacteria can harness the biochemical pathways that they have in their cells to actually generate electricity from waste.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsIf we're to understand how to produce food more efficiently, more effectively, more productively without damaging many, many thousands of miles of rainforest, then we actually need to understand the role that biochemistry plays in crop production. How can we improve the efficiency of crop production by having a better understanding of the biochemical pathways that actually are utilised by plants and by microbes and soils during agriculture? How can we understand how to how to help plants utilise nitrogen fertilizers more effectively? How can we stop microbes and soils from competing with plants for nitrogen fertilisers? The answers to all of these questions lie in a better understanding the biochemistry.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 secondsIt's biochemical processes that lead to the emission of greenhouse gases due to biological processes. It's biochemical systems that actually can lead to the consumption of greenhouse gases and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. So biochemistry has a major role to play in these key areas of energy security, global food security - big areas that affect our world going forward.

Future developments in bioenergy

Professor David Richardson has been undertaking biochemistry research for nearly 30 years. In this film he describes his current research interests and explains how it has important implications for society.

Professor Richardson is the Vice-Chancellor at UEA and he also leads a group of world-leading researchers based in the School of Biological Sciences at UEA. Details of some of his research is described in the web pages of the Nitric Oxide Research Alliance.

A fuller description of Professor Richardson’s research is also available in the inaugural lecture that was recently delivered at UEA. (Note that this link takes you to a lecture that is about 75 minutes in length.)

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This video is from the free online course:

Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life

UEA (University of East Anglia)