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.
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 virusesBiochemical Society TransactionsPublisher's version: 10.1042/BST20170393
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)Publisher's version: 10.1038/nature21725
O'Neill E. C., Trick M., Hill L., Rejzek M., Dusi R. G., Hamilton C. J., Zimba P. V., Henrissat B., Field R. A. (2015)The transcriptome of Euglena gracilis reveals unexpected metabolic capabilities for carbohydrate and natural product biochemistry.Molecular Biosystems (11)Publisher's version: 10.1039/c5mb00319a
Informal enquiries welcome PhD positions in experimental and computational sciences for the Marie-Curie Innovative Training Network “PoLiMeR”