Structural studies of plant and microbial metabolism

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


The Banfield Lab is involved in efforts towards understanding, at the molecular level, various processes in plant and microbial metabolism ranging from natural product (secondary metabolite) biosynthesis and starch formation in planta, through to the use of transpeptidase enzymes from gram positive pathogens (‘sortases’) as agents for bio-nanotechnology applications. A key hypothesis of our studies is that understanding a system at the molecular level is an excellent platform from which to manipulate particular processes towards a desired objective.

Our primary experimental tool is structure determination by X-ray crystallography, but we also complement this with solution-based methods (circular dichroism, isothermal titration calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance, analytical ultracentrifugation, small angle X-ray scattering, spectroscopy) as appropriate. Structural data is frequently used to establish hypotheses which can then be tested, for instance, by site-directed mutagenesis and further study. We collaborate extensively with groups in Norwich, the UK and worldwide to ensure the in vivo relevance of our in vitro data. We also have an interest in developing/employing new technologies to advance throughput in protein production and structure determination to both streamline our current research projects and enhance the feasibility of establishing new projects in the Laboratory.


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