A major theme of my research is directed evolution, artificial acceleration of rates of mutation and recombination in genes and genomes, and selection of variants with improved qualities
My lab group employs these techniques both to improve specific functions of enzymes and bacteria, and to study their physiology. In particular, we are developing:
- Improved bacterial nitroreductase enzymes for activation of chemotherapeutic prodrugs and imaging molecules
- Domain-shuffled non-ribosomal peptide synthetase enzymes that synthesise novel secondary metabolites
- Highly specific phosphopantetheinyl transferases that can tether molecular linkers to specific peptide “tags”
- DNA ligases that have been evolved for improved blunt-end fragment joining.
We also have a strong interest in metagenomic biodiscovery of valuable enzymes and drugs from the unculturable bacterial communities present in diverse environmental samples; and in developing screens for novel drug candidates.