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Discovering enzymes from plant alkaloid biosynthesis

Project Description

Plants produce a variety of nitrogen-containing molecules known as alkaloids,
many of which are bioactive and used as medicines (e.g. morphine,
vinblastine). These compounds are often structurally complex and
challenging to form using traditional synthetic chemistry. By discovering and
characterising the enzymes that are involved in alkaloid biosynthesis, it will
be possible to use these to produce alkaloids or their derivatives in vitro or
using synthetic biology approaches.

This project will involve the discovery and characterisation of biosynthetic
enzymes from plants. Initially gene candidates will be identified using RNA-
sequencing and then cloned and the enzymes expressed using recombinant
technologies. Relevant enzyme activities will identified using mass-
spectrometry. Newly discovered biosynthetic enzymes will be biochemically
characterised and used to synthesise complex alkaloids. The aim of this
project is to understand how plants produce complex molecules in order to
develop technologies to make high-value compounds.

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded for four years and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 estimated for 2020 entry), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.


Entry requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this research project means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions.

How good is research at University of York in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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