Dr Christopher Duffy

Christopher Duffy

Senior Lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Biology
Director of Admissions (SBBS)

School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences
Queen Mary University of London
Google Scholar


Photosynthetic Light-Harvesting, Open Quantum Systems, Astrobiology, Bioenergetics


I have a background in Theoretical Physics and a deep interest in Photosynthesis and, more generally, how light and biology interact. I use a variety of theoretical and computational methods to try and understand how plants harvest energy efficiently yet safely. More recently, I have become interested in the limits of possibility for photosynthesis, collaborating with astronomers in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences to try and understand if photosynthesis is possible around very different stars to our own Sun. It is interesting and fun to apply the principles of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics to understand whether photosynthesis would work around, say, a red dwarf star, how such organisms might be different from Earth's plants and algae, and whether we could detect it remotely.


Relevant PublicationPublications of specific relevance to the Centre for Molecular Cell Biology


Relevant PublicationDuffy CDP, Canchon G, Haworth TJ, Gillen E, Chitnavis S and Mullineaux CW (2023). Photosynthesis under a red Sun: predicting the absorption characteristics of an extraterrestrial light-harvesting antenna. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press vol. 526 (2), 2265-2277.  
Relevant PublicationGray C, Kailas L, Adams PG and Duffy CDP (2023). Unravelling the fluorescence kinetics of light-harvesting proteins with simulated measurements. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, Elsevier vol. 1865 (1) 


bullet iconŠebelík V, Duffy CDP, Keil E, Polívka T and Hauer J (2022). Understanding Carotenoid Dynamics via the Vibronic Energy Relaxation Approach. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (Soft Condensed Matter and Biophysical Chemistry), American Chemical Society vol. 126 (22), 3985-3994.  
bullet iconGray C, Wei T, Polívka T, Daskalakis V and Duffy CDP (2022). Trivial Excitation Energy Transfer to Carotenoids Is an Unlikely Mechanism for Non-photochemical Quenching in LHCII. Frontiers in Plant Science, Frontiers vol. 12 


bullet iconHancock AM, Son M, Nairat M, Wei T, Jeuken LJC, Duffy CDP, Schlau-Cohen GS and Adams PG (2021). Ultrafast energy transfer between lipid-linked chromophores and plant light-harvesting complex II. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry vol. 23 (35), 19511-19524.  


bullet iconSaccon F, Durchan M, Bína D, Duffy CDP, Ruban AV and Polívka T (2020). A Protein Environment-Modulated Energy Dissipation Channel in LHCII Antenna Complex. iScience, Elsevier vol. 23 (9) 
bullet iconDuffy CDP (2020). The simplicity of robust light harvesting. Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) vol. 368 (6498), 1427-1428.  
bullet iconKim E, Watanabe A, Duffy CDP, Ruban AV and Minagawa J (2020). Multimeric and monomeric photosystem II supercomplexes represent structural adaptations to low- and high-light conditions. Journal of Biological Chemistry, Elsevier vol. 295 (43), 14537-14545.  
bullet iconGelin MF, Abramavicius D, Duffy C and Mančal T (2020). Photosynthetic light harvesting: Insights from multidisciplinary approaches. Chemical Physics, Elsevier vol. 533 
bullet iconBalevičius V and Duffy CDP (2020). Excitation quenching in chlorophyll–carotenoid antenna systems: ‘coherent’ or ‘incoherent’. Photosynthesis Research, Springer Verlag 


bullet iconDaskalakis V, Maity S, Hart CL, Stergiannakos T, Duffy CDP and Kleinekathöfer U (2019). Structural Basis for Allosteric Regulation in the Major Antenna Trimer of Photosystem II. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B: Biophysical Chemistry, Biomaterials, Liquids, and Soft Matter, American Chemical Society 
bullet iconWei T, Balevičius V, Polívka T, Ruban AV and Duffy CDP (2019). How carotenoid distortions may determine optical properties: lessons from the Orange Carotenoid Protein. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry 
bullet iconBalevičius Jr V, Wei T, Di Tommaso D, Abramavicius D, Hauer J, Polívka T and Duffy CDP (2019). The full dynamics of energy relaxation in large organic molecules: from photo-excitation to solvent heating. Chemical Science, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) 


bullet iconFox KF, Ünlü C, Balevičius V, Ramdour BN, Kern C, Pan X, Li M, van Amerongen H and Duffy CDP (2018). A possible molecular basis for photoprotection in the minor antenna proteins of plants. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, Elsevier vol. 1859 (7), 471-481.  


bullet iconBalevicius V, Fox K, Bricker WP, Jurinovich S, Prandi IG, Mennucci B and DUFFY CDP (2017). Fine control of chlorophyll-carotenoid interactions defines the functionality of light-harvesting proteins in plants. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group vol. 7 
bullet iconFox K, Balevicius V, Chmeliov J, Valkunas L, Ruban A and DUFFY CDP (2017). The Carotenoid pathway: What is important for excitation quenching in plant antenna complexes? Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry 


bullet iconChmeliov J, Gelzinis A, Songaila E, Augulis R, Duffy CDP, Ruban AV and Valkunas L (2016). The nature of self-regulation in photosynthetic light-harvesting antenna. Nature Plants, Nature Publishing Group vol. 2 (5), 16045-16045.  


bullet iconFox KF, Bricker WP, Lo C and Duffy CDP (2015). Distortions of the Xanthophylls Caused by Interactions with Neighboring Pigments and the LHCII Protein Are Crucial for Studying Energy Transfer Pathways within the Complex. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, American Chemical Society (ACS) vol. 119 (51), 15550-15560.  
bullet iconDuffy CDP and Ruban AV (2015). Dissipative pathways in the photosystem-II antenna in plants. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B Biology, Elsevier vol. 152 (Pt B), 215-226.  
bullet iconChmeliov J, Bricker WP, Lo C, Jouin E, Valkunas L, Ruban AV and Duffy CDP (2015). An ‘all pigment’ model of excitation quenching in LHCII. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., Royal Society of Chemistry vol. 17 (24), 15857-15867.  


bullet iconBelgio E, Kapitonova E, Chmeliov J, Duffy CDP, Ungerer P, Valkunas L and Ruban AV (2014). Economic photoprotection in photosystem II that retains a complete light-harvesting system with slow energy traps. Nat Commun vol. 5 
bullet iconDuffy CDP, Pandit A and Ruban AV (2014). Modeling the NMR signatures associated with the functional conformational switch in the major light-harvesting antenna of photosystem II in higher plants. Phys Chem Chem Phys vol. 16 (12), 5571-5580.  


bullet iconDuffy CDP, Valkunas L and Ruban AV (2013). Light-harvesting processes in the dynamic photosynthetic antenna. Phys Chem Chem Phys vol. 15 (43), 18752-18770.  
bullet iconDuffy CDP, Chmeliov J, Macernis M, Sulskus J, Valkunas L and Ruban AV (2013). Modeling of fluorescence quenching by lutein in the plant light-harvesting complex LHCII. J Phys Chem B vol. 117 (38), 10974-10986.  
bullet iconBelgio E, Duffy CDP and Ruban AV (2013). Switching light harvesting complex II into photoprotective state involves the lumen-facing apoprotein loop. Phys Chem Chem Phys vol. 15 (29), 12253-12261.  
bullet iconDuffy CDP, Valkunas L and Ruban AV (2013). Quantum mechanical calculations of xanthophyll-chlorophyll electronic coupling in the light-harvesting antenna of photosystem II of higher plants. J Phys Chem B vol. 117 (25), 7605-7614.  
bullet iconIlioaia C, Duffy CDP, Johnson MP and Ruban AV (2013). Changes in the Energy Transfer Pathways within Photosystem II Antenna Induced by Xanthophyll Cycle Activity. JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B vol. 117 (19), 5841-5847.  


bullet iconDuffy CDP and Ruban AV (2012). A theoretical investigation of xanthophyll-protein hydrogen bonding in the photosystem II antenna. J Phys Chem B vol. 116 (14), 4310-4318.  
Relevant PublicationGoral TK, Johnson MP, Duffy CDP, Brain APR, Ruban AV and Mullineaux CW (2012). Light-harvesting antenna composition controls the macrostructure and dynamics of thylakoid membranes in Arabidopsis. Plant J vol. 69 (2), 289-301.  
bullet iconRuban AV, Johnson MP and Duffy CDP (2012). The photoprotective molecular switch in the photosystem II antenna. Biochim Biophys Acta vol. 1817 (1), 167-181.  
bullet iconMacernis M, Sulskus J, Duffy CDP, Ruban AV and Valkunas L (2012). Electronic Spectra of Structurally Deformed Lutein. JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A vol. 116 (40), 9843-9853.  


bullet iconValkunas L, Chmeliov E, Trinkunas G, Duffy CDP, van Grondelle R and Ruban AV (2011). Excitation Migration, Quenching and Regulation of Photosynthetic Light Harvesting in Photosystem II. J. Phys. Chem. B, American Chemical Society vol. 115 (29), 9252-9260.  
bullet iconRuban AV, Johnson MP and Duffy CDP (2011). Natural light harvesting: principles and environmental trends. ENERG ENVIRON SCI vol. 4 (5), 1643-1650.  
Relevant PublicationJohnson MP, Goral TK, Duffy CDP, Brain APR, Mullineaux CW and Ruban AV (2011). Photoprotective energy dissipation involves the reorganization of photosystem II light-harvesting complexes in the grana membranes of spinach chloroplasts. Plant Cell vol. 23 (4), 1468-1479.  
bullet iconIlioaia C, Johnson MP, Duffy CDP, Pascal AA, van Grondelle R, Robert B and Ruban AV (2011). Origin of Absorption Changes Associated with Photoprotective Energy Dissipation in the Absence of Zeaxanthin. J BIOL CHEM vol. 286 (1), 91-98.  


bullet iconDuffy CDP, Johnson MP, Macernis M, Valkunas L, Barford W and Ruban AV (2010). A theoretical investigation of the photophysical consequences of major plant light-harvesting complex aggregation within the photosynthetic membrane. J Phys Chem B vol. 114 (46), 15244-15253.  


bullet iconDuffy CDP, Ruban AV and Barford W (2008). Theoretical investigation of the role of strongly coupled chlorophyll dimers in photoprotection of LHCII. J PHYS CHEM B vol. 112 (39), 12508-12515.  


bullet iconBarford W and Duffy CDP (2006). Role of quantum coherence and energetic disorder in exciton transport in polymer films. PHYS REV B vol. 74 (7) 


bullet iconAlner GJ, Araujo HM, Arnison GJ, Barton JC, Bewick A, Bungau C, Camanzi B, Carson MJ, Davidge D, Davies GJ, Davies JC, Daw E, Dawson JV, Duffy C, Durkin TJ, Gamble T, Hart SP, Hollingworth R, Homer GJ, Howard AS, et al. (2005). Limits on WIMP cross-sections from the NAIAD experiment at the boulby underground laboratory. PHYS LETT B vol. 616 (1-2), 17-24.  


solid heart iconGrants of specific relevance to the Centre for Molecular Cell Biology
solid heart iconPhotosynthesis on Alien Worlds: What might it look like, and can it be detected?
Christopher Duffy, Edward Gillen, Conrad Mullineaux and Thomas James Haworth
£161,373 Leverhulme Trust (01-09-2023 - 31-08-2026)