Professor Richard Napier
Professor & Deputy Head of School (Operations)
Phone: 024 765 75094
Plant & Agricultural Biosciences
Warwick Centres and GRPs
Vacancies and Opportunities
For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.
Our primary interest is in how the plant hormone auxin works because its actions are the foundations for most of the green plant world. As biochemists, we are fascinated by how specificity is conferred for auxin. Millions of similar, but different small organic molecules cause no reaction at all, whilst the natural hormone molecule (known as indole-3-acetic acid, IAA) fits into its binding pocket perfectly.
We purify members of the auxin receptor family of proteins in the lab and use these in experiments to measure binding using advanced instruments like Biacore SPR (surface plasmon resonance). We are interested in how and why different members of the receptor family show preferences for different auxin mimics and this is important in agriculture because synthetic auxins are vitally important selective herbicides.
The Napier group also has research interests in next generation plastics and agriculture. Principally, we are interested in nanoparticles and determining whether or not polymers with particular characteristics (size, charge etc) can pass into plants and how we may use this information to design nanoparticles to carry very specific payloads to benefit crop performance, or to design nanoparticles which are specifically excluded from plants.
In combination with the nanoparticle work, we are interested in developing novel biosensors for plant hormones, and we have been using enzyme electrochemistry and DNA aptamers to recognise the hormone in these sensors.
Research: Technical Summary
We work on plant proteins, including membrane transport proteins which are expressed using recombinant baculoviruses in insect cell culture. After purification we prepare proteins for structural biology according to need, and we assay for activity with SPR Biacore technology. We also use MST and ICT, and collaborate to use CD and additional biophysical methods as necessary.
For a full list of publications, see WRAP
Professor, 2005, University of Warwick