Biological Chemistry

The Biological Chemistry Department at the John Innes Centre carries out scientific research on molecular processes in plants and microorganisms.  

We explore the structure and function of macromolecules in a range of biological systems. This enables us to manipulate enzymes, proteins, carbohydrates, small molecules and DNA of agronomic, environmental and industrial importance. 

To underpin our research we have developed state-of-the-art platform technologies that include crystallography, proteomics, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy and other biochemical/biophysical techniques.

We aim to understand biological processes at the molecularand atomic levels and address a wide range of problems that concern macromolecules and their interactions. For example we are examining protein-protein and protein-RNA interactions in plant viruses and are harnessing this knowledge for the development of plant virus-based vectors for vaccine production. 

In other work, we are investigating molecular interactions at the host-pathogen interface, which is part of a collaboration with The Sainsbury Laboratory to understand the molecular mechanisms of plant pathogenesis.  

Laboratories in the department have a key interest in antibiotics, looking at their biosynthesis, mechanism of action and their discovery.

A growing interest among the department is the chemistry and biochemistry of plant and microbial natural products, in particular their potential as antibiotics and as anti-cancer agents.

We also work in the area of carbohydrates, involving enzymology and the development and exploitation of chemical tools to address questions in plant and microbial carbohydrate metabolism. Furthermore, there is a strong interest in the molecular basis of plant-microbe interactions and the role of metals, such as iron, in plants and microbes.

Departmental administrators

Sarah Tolland

01603 450717

Jenna Conway

01603 450719





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