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Microbiology and Biotechnology Research Group


We have a multi-disciplinary approach to answering fundamental questions relating to the characterisation, evaluation and testing of microorganisms and viruses.  This could be for example, investigating the activity of new antimicrobials or defining the structure of bacterial proteins. Structural biology is an important tool we use to investigate the 3-D structures of biomolecules and explain biological interactions.  The figure above shows some of the key steps for an X-ray crystallographic study used to solve the protein structure of a bacterial cell wall “re- structuring” enzyme from Bacillus anthracis.  (a) X-ray diffraction pattern (b) and (c) structure of the “re- structuring” enzyme known as an autolysin.

Xray Crystallographics


We have a wide range of expertise focussed on using living systems and organisms to develop products.  Our research utilises many techniques, from protein biochemistry and structural techniques to cell culture and bio-conjugation.  We are developing new methods to design bio-therapeutics and we are assessing and developing novel delivery strategies.

The group has developed strong collaborations across the College of Science, the Lincoln Institute for Health, the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology and the College of Social Sciences.

The development and testing of novel antimicrobial compounds and strategies (Dixon, Williams, Miller and Taylor) by the development of novel in vitro/in vivo investigations, genetic stability and fermentation science (Williams, Flint and Crewe).

Molecular epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in foods and the environment Dixon, Crewe, Onarinde and Swainson are investigating the frequency and spread of antibiotic resistance plasmids and other mechanisms of resistance particularly in biofilms by developing partnerships with large livestock producers and retail providers.

Infectious disease Bates, is developing a program of research which centers on spread and treatment of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV. 

Molecular self-assembly Ferrari, is working on the engineering of biomimetic self-assembling molecules, their characterisation and the investigation of their use as components of molecular nano-devices.  He makes extensive use of functional gold nano particles which can be seen below.

Micro and Biotechnology 3

Carbohydrate Biotechnology Structural Biology and Industrial Enzymology Flint, Taylor and Swainson have research interests in the processing and repurposing of carbohydrates, especially in relation to food security and waste valorisation.  The structural analysis of carbohydrate active enzymes involved in the dissimilation of plant material is a key theme.They have extensive experience in using a combination of mutagenesis and X-ray crystallography to dissect the catalytic machinery of enzymes.  The figure below shows the activity and structures of three classes of enzymes involved in the dissimilation of plant polysaccharides. (a) Xylanases (b) Arabinofuranosidases. (c) Acetyl xylan esterases.

Micro and Biotechnology 1

Delivery of therapeutic compounds Odell focus on the delivery of therapeutic compounds to the brain.  The brain has a special protective Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) separating it from the blood that prevents many medical compounds from penetrating into the brain. A versatile system that improves delivery of present and future chemotherapeutics is urgently needed. We are using newly developed chemicals, bolaamphiphiles that form small sacks (vesicles) enclosing parcels of drugs. These sacks can penetrate the BBB carrying compounds that will not normally cross into the brain. Once inside the sacks break open releasing their therapeutic load. The figure below shows an Electron microscope image of bolaamphiphile vesicles.

Micro and Biotechnology 2

Projects and support

Taylor, Singh, Goddard~ Evaluating resistance mechanisms of the newly discovered antibacterial Teixobactin £14,400 Rosetrees Trust, application for PhD student consumables £14k.

Flint~ Hannah Cook DTA studentship via the LIH (Taylor second supervisor) £42k.

Flint, Kyne~ RIF2016-07 Selective (bio) catalytic conversion of Lincolnshire biomass £55K

Flint (and collaborators from other institutions and AB Sugar)Arabinoxylan co-production from sugarcane bagasse in integrated biorefineries (ACSIB), LBNet £50K

Flint, Taylor and Scowen~ British Chlorophyll, Enzyme based project £19.6K.

Dixon~ KTP award (Arden Wood Shavings Ltd £152k, Pharmaceutical Research Gift £50k + 60% government matched funding, for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS trust Collaborative research grants £59k.

Ferrari~ H2020 Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE). Immuno-NanoDecoder £49K

Ferrari~ Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund - Tom West Analytical Fellowship. SARA (Self-Assembling and Raman-Active) Nanoparticle Dimers £15K

Ferrari~ RIF2014-15. Self-assembling nanoparticle dimers for single-molecule detection £9.2K


Applications from prospective MSc by Research (MScRes), MPhil or PhD students to join our research groups are always welcome. Funded positions are advertised via the University of Lincoln Job Opportunities webpage and relevant national advertising portals.

A list of current and recent postgraduate research students:


Daniel Lloyd       

Charlotte Bolt

Hannah Cook

Sammy Kay

Joseph Brown

Joseph Edwards

May Omoigberale

Halima Mohamud

Philip Skipper

Wenwei Ma

Angela Saccardo

Members List

School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS 

email: enquiries@lincoln.ac.uk
tel: + 44 (0)1522 886654