RESEARCH THEMES

CHEMICAL AND ENZYMATIC SYNTHESIS

We use a range of chemical and enzymatic methodologies to prepare sugar nucleotides, oligosaccharides and glycosylated natural products. We adopt a pragmatic approach, employing chemistry or biological catalysis methods depending on the target, the scale or the need for the incorporation of non-natural sugars (azidosugars, fluorosugars, isotope labels).

STARCH CELL WALLS AND PREBIOTICS

Plant-based polysaccharides represent a major component of the diet of humans, farmed animals and fish. With the aid of chemical tools and strategies (synthetic oligosaccharides, fluorescent probes, small molecule inhibitors), our aim is to understand how plants make complex carbohydrate architectures, how and why they have a positive (or negative) impact in the animal diet.

ALGAL BLOOMS AND NATURAL PRODUCTS

Complex natural product toxins are often associated with algal blooms – events that cause regular episodes of fish deaths on our local waterways. Through genomic and transcriptomic approaches, coupled with metabolite analyses and heterologous production of candidate biosynthetic enzymes, we are exploring the carbohydrate and natural product biosynthesis capabilities of microalgae, such as Euglena gracilis and Prymnesium parvum.

DIAGNOSTICS AND THERAPEUTICS

Carbohydrate recognition is central to many, perhaps most, microbial infection events – bacterial, fungal, viral, parasite. We are working towards better understanding of these binding events so that we can exploit them in a diagnostic context or address them by intervention through diet, with small molecule therapeutics or carbohydrate-based vaccines. Translational aspects of this work is being taken on through our spin-out company, Iceni Diagnostics.