Prof Rob Field

Project Leader
Biological Chemistry

Rob’s research focuses on carbohydrate chemistry and biochemistry.

He develops chemical probes and uses gene manipulation to impact carbohydrate biosynthesis and degradation pathways, thereby generating new products.

Rob’s research spans a broad range of organisms including plants, algae, bacteria and viruses. This work has resulted in a number of applications, from designer carbohydrates for functional food studies to developing diagnostics for infectious diseases.

  • Chemical and enzymatic synthesis
  • Small molecule probes
  • Glycobiology across a broad range of species


Carbohydrates play many and varied roles in biology, contributing as energy sources, structural materials, binding and signalling molecules. In contrast to nucleic acids and proteins, carbohydrates are not template-encoded, which adds enormously to the diversity of carbohydrate structures that may be produced and imparts huge complexity to their analysis and definition of their biological function.

Research in the Field group is focused on developing and exploiting chemical tools and principles to address questions in plant and microbial carbohydrate metabolism. Projects typically involve some combination of chemical and enzymatic synthesis, inhibitor design and assessment, biochemistry, structural biology, metabolomic, proteomic and transcriptomic analysis.

From a biology perspective, the lab work cross-Kingdom: Arabidopsis, barley, Euglena, Streptomyces, E. coli, flu virus, the African and American trypanosome.


Tel: 01603 450720

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Recent Publications

Wagstaff B. A., Hems E. S., Rejzek M., Pratscher J., Brooks E., Kuhaudomlarp S., O'Neill E. C., Donaldson M. I., Lane S., Currie J., Hindes A. M., Malin G., Murrell J. C., Field R. A. (2018)

Insights into toxic Prymnesium parvum blooms: the role of sugars and algal viruses

Biochemical Society Transactions

Publisher’s version: 10.1042/BST20170393

Bayliss M., Donaldson M. I., Nepogodiev S. A., Pergolizzi G., Scott A. E., Harmer N. J., Field R. A., Prior J. L. (2017)

Structural characterisation of the capsular polysaccharide expressed by Burkholderia thailandensis strain E555:: wbiI (pKnock-KmR) and assessment of the significance of the 2-O-acetyl group in immune protection.

Carbohydrate Research 452 p17-24

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.carres.2017.09.011

Rugen M. D., Andriotis V. M. E., Field R. A. (2017)

Small-Molecule Probes of Plant Glycopolymer Metabolism

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/B978-0-12-409547- 2.12657-5

Ndhen D., Rogowski A., Cartmell A., Luis A. S., Baslé A., Gray J., Venditto I., Briggs J., Zhang X., Labourel A., Terrapon N., Buffetto F., Nepogodiev S., Xiao Y., Field R. A., Zhu Y., O'Neill M. A., Urbanowicz B. R., York W. S., Davies G. J., Abbott D. W., Ralet M. C., Martens E. C., Henrissat B., Gilbert H. J. (2017)

Complex pectin metabolism by gut bacteria reveals novel catalytic functions.

Nature 544 p65-70

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/nature21725

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Rob Field


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