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|2002-||Professor of Biotechnology||Department of Biology, University of York|
|2001 - 2002||Reader in Biotechnology||University of Cambridge|
|1991 - 2002||Staff Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies for Natural Sciences (Biological)||Trinity Hall, Cambridge|
|1990 - 2001||University Lecturer||Institute of Biotechnology, University of Cambridge|
|1988 - 1991||Research Fellow||Wolfson College, Cambridge|
|1987||PhD||University of Kent|
|1986 - 1990||Postdoctoral Research Associate||Institute of Biotechnology, University of Cambridge|
|1983||BSc Applied Biology||Hatfield Polytechnic|
Chair of Departmental Research Committee
The major research themes of our laboratory are microbial metabolism, biocatalysis and environmental biotechnology. A primary goal is to understand how microorganisms have adapted to utilise xenobiotic compounds as carbon and nitrogen sources for growth. The enzymes mediating these pathways often have potential commercial applications as recognition components in biosensors, as biocatalysts for synthetic chemistry, for the production of biofuels and for the bioremediation of soil and ground water. We are now engaged in extensive structural analysis of a number of these enzymes using X-ray crystallography. Work is also focusing on generating carefully designed mutant forms of a number of these enzymes to understand their catalytic mechanisms. A principal theme of our research is the biodegradation, biotransformation and phytoremediation of explosives.
We discovered a novel cytochrome P450 system termed XplA/B from Rhodococcus rhodochrous (11Y) that degrades the high explosive RDX. As a model system for RDX phytoremediation, Arabidopsis expressing XplA/B were grown in RDX contaminated soil and found to remove and degrade the explosive from the soil. Our work suggests that expressing XPlA/B in landscape plants may provide a suitable remediation strategy for explosive contaminated sites.
|Senior Research Associate||Liz Rylott||ESTCP - Phytoremediation of explosives from contaminated soil by transgenic grass|
|Research Technician||Laura Faas||Tailoring the in planta synthesis of specific NPs for production of high-value catalysts|
|PhD student||Nicola Oates||
Degradation of lignocellulose by Graphium sp.
|PhD student||Lazaina Ahmad||Binding characterisation of Arabidopsis glutatjione transferases|
|PhD student||Zakuan Shamsul Harumain||Mechanisms of platinum group metal uptake and tolerance in plants|
|PhD student||Daniel Leadbeater||Bioprospecting lignocellulolytic enzymes from salt marsh ecosystems|
|PhD student||Rachael Evans||Evolving microbial communities for biofuel production|
|PhD student||Giovanna Pesante||Physiology and enzymology of lignocellulose digestion in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus|
|PhD student||Juliana Sanchez||Discovery of novel enzymes with lignocellulosic activity from a salt marsh environment|
|Research Associate||Federico Sabbadin||BBSRC - Learning from marine wood borers; enzymes and mechanisms of lignocellulose digestion|
|Research Associate||Katrin Besser||BBSRC - Learning from marine wood borers; enzymes and mechanisms of lignocellulose digestion|
|Research Associate||Dr Joe Bennett||BBSRC - RICEFUEL Engineering Enzymes, bacteria and bioconversion processes for advances biofuels from waste grain straw|
|Research Technician||Luisa Elias||BBSRC - Learning from marine wood borers; enzymes and mechanisms of lignocellulose digestion|
|Research Administrator||Margaret Cafferky||Project Administration
Mining composting communities for new lignocellulose mobilising enzymes (2015-16)
From both a fundamental and industrial biotech viewpoint understanding the deconstruction of lignocellulose in soil and compost is of central importance. In the natural environments microbial communities can efficiently degrade or modify lignin to enable the effective enzymatic hydrolysis of the polysaccharides present in plant cell walls. Globally, this is important for cycling carbon in the environment and as potential sources of biocatalysts for efforts at converting plant biomass into biofuels and commodity chemicals. The objectives of this project are to use metatranscriptomics and proteomics to determine gene- and protein-centred details to determine new mechanisms and improved methods of lignocellulose deconstruction in mixed microbial communities from composting cereal straw. The project will use proteomics analysis to interrogate the secretome of microbial communities in composting cereal straw and metatranscriptomics will be used to explore the expression of genes associated with lignocellulose digestion. To identify new linocellulose degrading enzymes, the peptide sequences from the proteomics analysis will be used to probe the metatranscriptomic library for full and partial coding sequences. These coding sequences will be cloned, expressed and the recombinant proteins characterised.