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Dr Saul Purton, group leader
Reader in Molecular Phycology
Post-doctoral Research Scientist (University of Geneva, Switzerland) 1990-1991
EMBO Research Fellow (University of Geneva, Switzerland) 1988-1990
PhD in Plant Molecular Biology (University of Cambridge) 1984-1988
BSc in Biochemistry (University of Bristol) 1981-1984
A central focus throughout my research career has been the
chloroplast organelle of plants and algae. I have explored questions regarding
its evolution; its biology (mainly photosynthesis, but more recently other
metabolic processes such as fatty acid and isoprenoid biosynthesis), its
molecular biology (the evolutionary forces that have shaped the chloroplast
genome, and how the nucleus coordinates the expression of chloroplast genes),
and its genetic engineering and biotechnological exploitation. Almost all of
this research has involved the green alga Chlamydomonas
as a model system. Indeed, my research is underpinned by the many genetic
engineering tools we have developed (and are continuing to develop) for Chlamydomonas (see genetic engineering tools).
Our current research is now moving into more applied areas and involving additional algal species. Topics include:
- The genetic engineering of algae for biofuel production and the development of advanced synthetic biology tools for creating ‘designer algae’.
- The production of pharmaceutical proteins using the algal chloroplast as a low-cost, benign platform.
- The role of nuclear-encoded factors in the expression of individual organellar genes within the chloroplast or mitochondrion.
- The development of genetic engineering methods for various algal and cyanobacterial species.
Please see "current research" for more details of these projects.
My teaching encompasses microbiology, molecular biology, plant biology and biotechnology, and I contribute to the following UCL courses:
BIOC1010: Introduction to Microbiology (course organiser)
BIOL2004: Fundamentals of Molecular Biology
BIOL2005: Genetic Systems
BIOC3005: Cellular Regulation and Biotechnology
BIOSG006: MRes in Synthetic Biology
In addition, I supervise both research and literature-based projects for BSc and MRes students.
- Founding member of the Algal Biotechnology Consortium (ABC)
- Member of the Society for General Microbiology’s Eukaryotic Division
- Member of the BBSRC's Pool of Experts
- Core member of the BBSRC’s Research Committee B
- Scientific Advisory Board member of Algenuity
- Scientific Advisory Board member for the European Project SPLASH (Sustainable Polymers from Algal Sugars and hydrocarbons)
- Associate editor for the journal Perspectives in Phycology
- Co-ordinator of the 4-year, £2.4M BBSRC strategic LoLa award, Algal Biotechnology Platform for Designer Lipids (collaborators are Johnathan Napier from Rothamsted Research, Oliver Ebenhöh from Aberdeen University and Alison Smith and Chris Abell from Cambridge University)
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