Industrial biotechnology is transforming manufacturing by enabling complex molecules to be produced from low-cost feedstocks.

We work with a range of industries to develop improved medicines, oils and enzymes, and explore ways of maximising resource recovery from organic residues and wastes.

Our researchers manipulate microbial systems, plants and mammalian cell biology using state-of-the-art omics technologies, mathematical modelling and systems biology.


The results of our industrial biotechnology research are being put into action locally and internationally.

We focus on research that addresses two global challenges:

Research highlights


Name Expertise
Ian Bancroft
  • Industrial rapeseed oils
  • Rapeseed co-products
  • Metabolites to impact
Neil Bruce
  • Enzyme discovery
  • Lignocellulose degradation
  • Bioremediation
Nia Bryant
  • Secretory pathway manipulations
  • Mechanisms of cell death (and how to avoid them)
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a synthetic biology platform
James Chong
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Applied systems biology
  • Methanogenic archaea
Seth J Davis 
  • Plant circadian clocks and mathematics of curves
  • Industrial biotechnology of the red alga Galdieria
  • Complete genome sequencing
Katherine Denby
  • Generating crops with enhanced disease resistance
  • Development of leafy vegetables with enhanced nutritional content
  • Gene editing
Ian A Graham FRS 
  • Metabolism of alkaloids and terpenoids
  • Medicinal plants
  • Industrial biotechnology of high value chemicals from plants
Andrea Harper
  • Multi-omic analysis of complex traits
  • Plant health and stress tolerance 
  • Crop improvement
Benjamin Lichman
  • Plant natural product biosynthesis
  • Evolution of plant specialised metabolism
  • Mechanism and applications of enzymes from plant specialised metabolism 
Luke Mackinder
  • Algal engineering
  • Photosynthetic improvements
  • High-throughput and synthetic biology
Simon McQueen-Mason
  • Biorefining for  low carbon fuels chemicals and materials
  • Plant cell walls
  • Lignocellulolytic enzyme discovery
Michael Plevin
  • Protein engineering
  • Protein characterisation
  • Recombinant protein expression
Kelly Redeker
  • Assessing function and status through volatile trace gas fluxes
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Plant-soil-microbial systems
Liz Rylott
  • Platform chemicals and metal recovery from plant biomass
  • Phytotechnologies
  • Synthetic biology
Federico Sabbadin
  • Enzyme discovery
  • Plant biomass valorisation
  • Keratin valorisation
  • Insect venomics
Gavin Thomas
  • Chemicals resistance in microbial production chassis
  • Body odour formation in humans
  • Uptake and efflux of small molecules for industrial biotechnology
Thierry Tonon
  • Algal physiology and metabolism
  • Algal metabolic pathways and enzymes
  • Biotechnological applications of algae and algal genes
Daniel Ungar
  • Cell biology of Golgi organization
  • Mechanism and modelling of glycan biosynthesis
  • Biologics glycosylation
Robert White
  • Gene transcription in health & disease
  • Control of tRNA expression
  • Molecular approaches to enhance transgene expression
Jamie Wood
  • Mathematical and computational methods
  • Systems biology
  • Microbial ecology and metabolism