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Marina Konstantopoulou

I did my first degree in the National University of Athens, Greece, at the Chemistry department. I particularly enjoyed the modules of Analytical Chemistry, Instrumental Chemistry and Modern Techniques of Instrumental Analysis, which gave me the motivation to pursue my further career by doing the AS:MIT MSc programme at the University of Warwick. My undergraduate degree dissertation was on validating methods of quality control in drugs by HPLC.

The first half of the year of the AS:MIT programme was taught courses and I was particularly excited by Chromatography and Separation Techniques and by Mass Spectrometry modules. I was also fascinated by the NMR facilities the University offers. I also enjoyed the Real World group research project which gave me the opportunity to work in a team with four of my coursemates for two weeks on a project to determine the differences in the scent and flavour between citrus fruits from a chemical aspect.

I've chosen to do my MSc research project in Chemical Biology with Prof. Timothy Bugg.


Title of my Project

 UV-Vis Assays for Bioconversion of Plant Lignocellulose by Bacterial Lignin Degraders.

Abstract of my Project

Lignin is a structural complex and heterogeneous aromatic polymer and one of the major components of plant biomass.
Breakdown of plant lignocellulose to glucose is a key step in second generation biofuels, but the resistance lignocellulose shows is a current limitation of the biorefinery process.
During this project, UV-Vis plate reader assays were developed to test the activity of five bacteria with known lignin degradation activity when treated with nitrated lignocellulose substrate from different wheat and barley straw varieties.
These assays showed that there is specific selectivity for particular varieties of wheat and barley by particular degraders.
[1] Ahmad, M.; Taylor, C.R.; Pink, D.; Burton, K.; Eastwood, D.; Bending, G.R.; Bugg, T.D.H.; Molecular Biosystems, 2010, 6: 815-821.
[2] Bugg, T.D.H; Ahmad, M.; Hardiman, E.M.; Singh, R.; Current opinions in biotechnology, 2010, 22: 1-7.
[3] ''Sustainable biofuels:prospects and challenges'', Report by the Royal Society, January 2008.
 Cross section of wheat straw in phloroglucinol dye. Cell walls. (light microscope image, 400x magnification)
 Wheat lignin prepared with alkali process.
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