Prof George Lomonossoff

Project Leader
Biological Chemistry

George is a virologist who uses molecular biology to understand the assembly and properties of viruses.

He uses a synthetic biology approach to create synthetic virus-like particles.

He has exploited a highly efficient transient expression system to produce pharmacologically active proteins within plants.

George’s research uses nanotechnology to create virus-like particles which can be used for immune recognition and vaccine development, they also make good nanoparticles for drug delivery. 

  • Creating synthetic virus-like particles
  • Using virus-like particles for drug delivery and vaccine development
  • Production of proteins using a transient expression system


The production of pharmaceuticals in plants

Research in George's lab is primarily focussed on the exploitation of plant viruses in bio- and nanotechnology technology.

The group has exploited a highly efficient transient expression system developed in their laboratory (the CPMV-HT system) to produce a range of pharmacologically active proteins, including antibodies and virus-like particles, in plants.

In the case of Bluetongue virus (BTV), plant-produced particles have been shown to be able to protect sheep against bluetongue disease. Work in this area has resulted in the filing of several patents.

The group has also been involved in projects that have demonstrated the utility of the CPMV-HT transient expression system for the analysis, manipulation and re-engineering of plant secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways.  

Research on protein expression in plants, including secondary metabolite biosynthesis, resulted in Frank Sainsbury (a Ph.D student at the John Innes Centre) and George being named BBSRC Overall Innovators of the Year in 2012

Devastating plant virus is revealed in atomic detail

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JIC spin-off Leaf Systems opened by Science Minister Jo Johnson

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Plant-based vaccine among front runners in search for new polio jab

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Professor George Lomonossoff elected as President of the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming

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Selected Publications

Peyret H., Gehin A., Thuenemann E. C., Blond D., El Turabi A., Beales L., Clarke D., Gilbert R. J., Fry E. E., Stuart D. I., Holmes K., Stonehouse N. J., Whelan M., Rosenberg W., Lomonossoff G. P., Rowlands D. J. (2015)

Tandem fusion of hepatitis B core antigen allows assembly of virus-like particles in bacteria and plants with enhanced capacity to accommodate foreign proteins.

PLoS One 10 pe0120751

Publisher’s version: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120751

Geisler K., Hughes R. K., Sainsbury F., Lomonossoff G. P., Rejzek M., Fairhurst S., Olsen C. E., Motawiab M. S., Melton R. E., Hemmings A. M., Bak S., Osbourn A. (2013)

Biochemical analysis of a multifunction cytochrome P450 (CYP51) enzyme required for synthesis of antimicrobial triterpenes in plants

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110 pE3360-E3367

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1309157110

Aljabali A. A. A., Sainsbury F., Lomonossoff G., Evans D. J. (2010)

Cowpea mosaic virus unmodified empty viruslike particles can be loaded with metal and metal oxide.

Small 6 p818-821

Publisher’s version: 10.1002/smll.200902135

Sainsbury F., Lomonossoff G. P. (2008)

Extremely high-level and rapid transient protein production in plants without the use of viral replication

Plant Physiology 148 p1212-1218

Publisher’s version: 10.1104/pp.108.126284

Steinmetz N. F., Lin T., Lomonossoff G. P., Johnson J. E. (2008)

Structure-based engineering of an icosahedral virus for nanomedicine and nanotechnology

Recent Publications

Hesketh E. L., Saunders K., Fisher C., Potze J., Stanley J., Lomonossoff G. P., Ranson N. A. (2018)

The 3.3Å structure of a plant geminivirus using cryo-EM.

Nature communications 9 p2369

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/s41467-018-04793-6

Lomonossoff G. P. (2018)

So What Have Plant Viruses Ever Done for Virology and Molecular Biology?

Advances in virus research 100 p145-162

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/bs.aivir.2017.12.001

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George Lomonossoff

  • Johanna Marsian Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Yulia Meshcheriakova Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Hadrien Peyret Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Keith Saunders Research Assistant
  • Dr Eva Thuenemann Postdoctoral Scientist


The production of pharmaceuticals in plants

For media enquiries, please contact the JIC communications team 01603 450962,


SGM Colworth Prize Lecture, 2015

Member of the BBSRC Innovator of the Year / Activating Impact judging panel, 2014

BBSRC Most Promising Innovator and Overall Innovator of the Year, 2012

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