For 25 years,
discoveries of novel, photosynthetically active, protein macromolecular
structures (20 to 40 nanometres in diameter) were elucidated by the structural
biology techniques of Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and single
particle analysis. This body of work resulted in primary
publications in Nature (3), Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences USA (2), The Plant Cell (2), The Plant Journal and over 50
others in leading journals.
- 40+ invited talks were presented
internationally and nationally. The protein structures observed involve a
central photosystem 'reaction centre' coupled to peripheral
light-harvesting components. These are now termed in the literature
"photosynthetic supercomplexes". It is anticipated that renewable energy
technologies, such as those involving solar capture and biohydrogen,
will benefit from this knowledge of nature.
- awarded a Royal Society University Fellowship "Investigating
Photosynthetic Complexes" in late 2001. This was extended
to 2012 (0.69 FTE since
2009). The Fellowship's central remit was to probe more evolutionarily
diverse organisms and mutants for light-harvesting photosynthetic
proteins, and to drive forward a combinatorial approach of TEM and
computer purification to overcome the structural heterogeneity often
observed in light-sensitive samples. The Fellowship itself resulted in an output of over
25 primary papers
- further to this, separate structural
breakthroughs were made for proteins involved in bacterial pathogenesis
(PspA) and for antibiotic resistance (emrAB complex). Photosystem
assembly (Ycf4 protein; ref: The Plant Cell, 2009) and red algal light
harvesting (Lhcr proteins) were also reported upon. X-ray diffraction
was used to probe a cyanobacterial light-harvesting protein,
subsequently elucidated to a resolution of 1.45 Å in 2003 (the most
highly resolved light harvesting protein at that time (for two years;
with diffraction spots out to 1.1 Å). Other projects used Atomic Force
Microscopy to investigate molecular dynamics within membranes
- contributed to/designed/awarded 11 front covers of books and journals.
the earliest stages of career (summer 1993), fortunate to
isolate and fully characterise the first ever membrane-bound
"photosynthetic supercomplex" (ref: PNAS, 1995) whilst working in the
superb, vibrant, laboratory of James Barber at Imperial
College London, together with Ben Hankamer (now at University of Queensland, Australia) and in collaboration with Egbert Boekema (Groningen) and Matthias Roegner (Bochum).
This opened up a large field of international investigation
surrounding photosystem/light-harvesting supercomplexes.
At that time,
for his Ph.D. studies, he probed this (relatively huge, 33 nm diameter,
elongated >1.2 megaDalton) PSII-LHCII supercomplex using 14
biochemical/biophysical techniques, gaining a Ph.D. in 1997, then
followed this by its structural elucidation to 17 Å via cryo-TEM during
two post-doctoral positions (refs: Nature/Nature Structural Biology).
The use at that time of (relatively novel) vitrified samples permitted
3D structures to be calculated from a number of organisms
(cyanobacteria, green algae and a diverse range of niche organisms and
their mutants) by cryo-TEM and single particle image analysis (17-20 Å
- most satisfying to see the Nobel Prize for Chemistry
(2017) awarded to 3 scientists who have played such an
intrinsic role in bringing the field of cryo-EM into the state it is in,
today. Indeed, it is the review paper of Dr. Henderson (Quart. Rev.
Biophys. 1995) that played a big part of Jon's thinking during his thesis
write-up, and in fact the motivation to apply for a PDRA position with
Marin van Heel in 1997, and visits to the LMB in
Cambridge in the late 1990's ... provided impetus to
achieve early career contributions.
His lab engaged in many
national/international collaborations with emphasis now on the
mechanisms and complexes that assemble, repair and regulate these
membrane proteins in the first instance, including the first 3D
reconstruction of the PSII-affecting protease FtsH (ref: The Plant Cell,
2012). Aids in the revision of the IBID Press (Biology)
textbooks (Hodder, ed. C. Talbot) as consultant, for the International
Refereed publications for many
journals, both specialist and well known, and grants for the scientific
community. Was an Associate Editor of Photochemical &
Photobiological Sciences (01/2005 to 12/2009; www.rsc.org/pps). Concurrently (2005-2007) Staff Representative on Faculty and GM-safety
committees, as well as organising a seminar series (26 lectures in 18
months), while sitting on Departmental IT provision committees. From 2012-2020 was Careers Liaison
Officer role for Department's biology/biochemistry-degree UG/PG students (800+
individuals) and management committee member for QMUL's NanoVision
TEM/SEM Centre (E1 4NS, London, UK).
gratefully received over many years from The Royal Society, the
BBSRC/UK government, The Biochemical Society and Japan's JST/CREST
initiative, amongst others.
All original scientific content
within this website is copyright of myself, the relevant authors,
institutions and/or the journals that it is published in, as indicated. I am very grateful to have worked with so many different teams in over 150 different laboratories.
<updated 20th May 2022>