Sensory photoreceptors mediate sensation of incident light and enable diverse organisms to derive spatial and temporal environmental cues for vital
adaptations of physiology, behavior and lifestyle. Sensory photoreceptors excel in the reversibility, noninvasiveness and spatiotemporal precision of the responses they
elicit. For precisely these reasons, sensory photoreceptors have found frequent use as genetically encoded, light-gated actuators in optogenetics, that is, the control
by light of cellular events.
Within an analytic, top-down branch, our research focuses on elucidating the structural, mechanistic and functional bases that underpin the action of sensory photoreceptors.
In a synthetic, bottom-up branch, we seek to engineer novel photoreceptors with custom-tailored light-regulated function: on the one hand, engineered photoreceptors broaden
the scope of optogenetics, and on the other hand, they provide a crucial touchstone for our mechanistic understanding of signal transduction processes.