|2001 -||Chair in Materials Biology||Department of Biology (CNAP), University of York|
|1994 - 2002||Royal Society University Research Fellow||Department of Biology, University of York|
|1993 - 1994||Post-doctoral Research Assistant||The Pennsylvania State University|
|1993||PhD (Plant Physiology)||The Pennsylvania State University|
|1987||BSc Biology (CNAA) Honours (1st Class)||Portsmouth Polytechnic School of Biological Sciences|
Research encompasses various aspects of plant cell wall biology. The cell wall plays a key role in the control of plant growth and morphogenesis by regulating the rates of cell expansion through changes in extensibility. Plant cell wall extensibility is under dynamic control and the molecular mechanisms underlying extension are a major research interest. Expansins are key proteins that regulate cell wall extensibility and we study these proteins at the level of biochemistry and molecular genetics. The cell wall is a complex fibre composite material composed of a range of different polysaccharides. We study the contribution of different matrix polysaccharides to cell wall extensibility and elasticity, as well as the genes and enzymes involved in their biosynthesis.
Plant biomass is one of the greatest reserves of fixed carbon on the planet, is viewed as a potential replacement for fossil fuels, and is largely composed of cell walls. We are using our knowledge of cell walls to advance the development of second generation liquid biofuels from plant biomass in three distinct areas. Firstly, we are coordinating a large international project, which aims to optimise plant cell walls for biofuel applications by making them more readily converted into fermentable sugars for alcohol production. Secondly, we have initiated a major programme for the discovery of novel enzymes for converting plant biomass into fermentable sugars. Finally, we are investigating the production of liquid biofuels from plant biomass from municipal waste.
|Research Team Leader||Dr. Leonardo Gomez||
Improving plant cell walls for use as a renewable industrial feedstock.
|SUNLIBB Project Manager||Dr. Veronica Ongaro||SUNLIBB research.|
|Post doctoral fellow||Dr. Marcelo Kern||New tools for the realization of cost-effective liquid biofuels from plant biomass.|
|Post doctoral fellow||Dr. Katrin Besser||New tools for the realization of cost-effective liquid biofuels from plant biomass.|
|Post doctoral fellow||Dr. Joe Bennett||Discovery of novel proteins for applications in the food industry and the area of food security.|
|Post doctoral fellow||Dr. Alexandra Lanot||Multihemp: Multipurpose hemp for industrial bioproducts and biomass.|
|PhD student||Caragh Whitehead||Improving plant biomass for the production of sustainable biofuels.|
|PhD Student||William Ebboral||New tools for the realization of cost-effective liquid biofuels from plant biomass.|
|PhD student||Poppy Marriott||Improving plant cell walls for use as a renewable industrial feedstock.|
|PhD student||David Glew||Validating the sustainability of biorenewables.|
|Technician||Dr Clare Steele-King||New tools for the realization of cost-effective liquid biofuels from plant biomass.|
|Technician||Rachael Simister||Manipulating lignin to improve biofuel conversion of plant biomass.|
|Technician||Luisa Elias||New tools for the realization of cost-effective liquid biofuels from plant biomass.|
|Technician||David Vaughan||New tools for the realization of cost-effective liquid biofuels from plant biomass.|
|Technician||Dr.Susannah Bird||Targeted analysis of lignocellulolytic secretomes-a new approach to enzyme discovery.|
|Research Administrator||Julia Crawford|
Improving plant biomass for the production of sustainable biofuels (for 2013-2014)
Lignocellulosic plant biomass is one of the greatest untapped reserves on the planet and is mostly composed of cell walls, which are comprised largely of polysaccharides that can be broken down to provide sugars for fermentation to produce sustainable renewable biofuels. .However, the complex structure of cell walls, consisting of a network of cellulose microfibrils and matrix polysaccharides encrusted by lignin, makes them resistant to digestion and this represents the major technical bottleneck for the production of cost-competitive and sustainable biofuels.
Much of the plant biomass that will be available for biofuels production will be derived from grasses, in the form of straw from cereals or from dedicated biomass crops such as miscanthus. In order to identify genes that can be manipulated to improve cell wall digestibility we have been screening for point mutations that render straw from the model grass Brachypodium distachyon more digestible. Initial screening has identified more than 30 lines with significantly higher digestibility than wild type. In the project the student will undertake work to map the underlying gene mutations responsible for the improved digestibility in a number of these lines, and carry out detailed analysis of the changes in cell wall composition and structure responsible for the phenotype. This work will further our understanding of cell wall structure and function and identify ways to improve biomass crops for biorefinery applications.
d'Yvoire MB, Bouchabke-Coussa O, Voorend W, Antelme S, Cezard L, Legee F, Lebris P, Legay S, Whitehead C, McQueen-Mason SJ, Gomez LD, Jouanin L, Lapierre C, Sibout R, (2013) 'Disrupting the cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase 1 gene (BdCAD1) leads to altered ligification and improved saccharification in Brachypodium distachyon.' Plant Journal 73: 496-508
Acquaye A, Sherwen T, Genovese A, Kuylenstierna J, Koh S and McQueen-Mason S, (2012) 'Biofuels and their potential to aid the UK towards achieving emissions reduction policy targets.' Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 16: 5414-5422.
Whitehead C, Gomez LD, McQueen-Mason S, (2012) 'The analysis of saccharification in biomass using an automated high-throughput method.' Methods in Enzymology 510: 37-50.
Vuttipongchaikij S, Brocklehurst D, Steele-King C, Ashford DA, Gomez LD, McQueen-Mason S, (2012) 'Arabidopsis GT34 family contains five xyloglucan α-1,6-xylosyltransferases.' New Phytologist 195 : 585-595.
Glew D, Stringer LC, Acquaye AA, McQueen-Mason S. (2012) 'How do end of life scenarios influence the environmental impact of product supply chains? Comparing biomaterial and petrochemical products.' Journal of Cleaner Production. 29-30: 122-131.
Acquaye AA, Wiedmann T, Feng K, Crawford RH, Barrett J, Kuylenstierna J, Duffy AP, Koh SC, McQueen-Mason SJ. (2011) 'Identification of 'Carbon Hot-Spots' and Quantification of GHG Intensities in the Biodiesel Supply Chain Using Hybrid LCA and Structural Path Analysis.' Environmental Science and Technology 45: 2471-2478.
Brown D, Wightman R, Zhang Z, Gomez Ivan Atanassov LD, Bukowski JP, Tryfona T, McQueen-Mason SJ, Dupree P, Turner S. (2011) 'Arabidopsis genes IRREGULAR XYLEM (IRX15) and IRX15L encode DUF579 containing proteins that are essential for normal xylan deposition in the secondary cell wall.' Plant Journal 66: 401-413.
Gomez LD, Whitehead C, Barakate A, Halpin C, McQueen-Mason SJ. (2010) 'Automated saccharification assay for determination of digestibility in plant materials.' Biotechnology for Biofuels 3:23
Lizana XC, Riegel R, Gomez LD, Herrera J, Isla A, McQueen-Mason SJ, Calderini DF. (2010) 'Expansins expression is associated wit grain size dynamics in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Journal of Experimental Botany 61: 1147-1157
King AJ, Cragg S, Li Y, Dymond J, Guille MJ, Bowles DJ, Bruce NC, Graham IA, McQueen-Mason SJ. (2010) 'Molecular insight into lignocellulose digestion by a marine isopod in the absence of gut microbes.' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 107:5345-5350
Editorial board:' Journal of Plant Research' (2006 onwards)
' Biotechnology for Biofuels' (2012 onwards)