Stephen Fry


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Plant cell wall assembly and growth: mechanisms and control.
<br/>The project can involve studies on cell-wall-localised enzymes or reactive oxygen species (ROS) that help in the assembly or loosening of plant cell walls, regulating cell growth. Our special emphasis is on processes occurring in living cell, and much of the work therefore involves the in-vivo feeding of isotopically and fluorescently labelled tracers.
<br/> Many questions remain unanswered about the processes in which plant cell walls are modified to accommodate cell expansion during plant development. This lab discovered and is actively studying xyloglucan endotransglucosylase (XET or XTH), which restructures a polysaccharide (xyloglucan) in the primary cell wall matrix. Recently we discovered several novel transglycosylase activities that act on different wall polysaccharides.
<br/> We would like a PhD student to begin work on one of the following topics:
<br/>* Developing a new ‘biochemical’ assay for the non-enzymic wall-loosening protein expansin.
<br/>* Continuing recent unpublished work on the discovery of specific inhibitors of cell-wall enzymes.
<br/>* Testing novel roles of pectin methylesterases (PMEs) in an attempt to explain why plants have as many as 100 different putative PME genes.
<br/>* Testing when and where hydroxyl radicals attack wall polysaccharides in vivo, an interesting proposed non-enzymic mechanism of cell wall loosening during fruit softening.

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Personal profile

Research students

PhD students supervised (with current employment where known):

  • Karen J. Biggs (PhD, 1988)                       scientific publishing

  • D. Fraser Gray (PhD, 1990)                      pharmaceuticals

  • Rachel C. Smith (PhD, 1992)                     regulatory support centre, MRC

  • Kate E. Myton (PhD, 1994)                      

  • Ian Potter (PhD, 1996)                             

  • James E. Thompson (PhD, 1997)              postdoc, University of Manchester

  • Gundolf Wende (PhD, 1997)                     consultant

  • Christina K. Smith (PhD, 1999)                commercial laboratory

  • Sara L. Gardner (PhD, 2000)                    scientific administrator at ERNDIM

  • Zoë A. Popper (PhD, 2001)                       asst professor, Univ Galway, Ireland

  • Jo C. Dumville (PhD, 2001)                       senior lecturer in applied health research, Manchester

  • Ellen M. Fowler (Kerr) (PhD, 2002)         

  • Nichola O’Looney (PhD, 2003)                  commercial laboratory

  • Martha A. Green (PhD, 2004)                   commercial laboratory

  • Malcolm S. Bain (PhD, 2005)                    pharmaceuticals

  • Sandra C. Sharples (PhD 2006)                 knowledge exch grants co-ordinator, Cranfield Univ

  • Shona E. Lindsay (PhD 2007)                   assoc director of bioanalytical dept, contract research co.

  • Harriet T. Parsons (PhD 2008)                 fellow, Cambridge Centre for Proteomics

  • David J. Messenger (PhD 2009)                commercial laboratory, Unilever

  • Amjad Iqbal (PhD, 2009)                           associate professor, Abdul Wali Khan University, Pakistan

  • Kyle Mohler (PhD, 2011)                          postdoc, Purdue University, Indiana, USA

  • Babul Airianah PhD, 2012)                       lecturer, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

  • Tom Simmons (PhD, 2013)                       postdoc, Cambridge University

  • Christina O’Rourke (PhD, 2014)                commercial laboratory, protein chemist

  • Claire Holland (PhD, 2014)                       postdoc, Copenhagen University

  • Rebecca Dewhirst (PhD, 2015)                  postdoc, Exeter University

  • Nguyen Phan Cam Tu (PhD, 2015)           postdoc, Glasgow University

  • Ketema Tolossa (PhD, 2017)                       Lecturer, Hawassa University, Ethiopia

  • Anne Bulling (née Ritzenhoff) (PhD, 2018)

  • Anzhou Xin (PhD, 2019)

  • Rifat Ara Begum (2016–___)

  • Thurayya Al Hinai (2017–___)

  • Ninni Nuorti (2017–___)

  • Christian Donohoe (2018–___)

  • Marie Rapin (2019–___) 

Education/Academic qualification

Plant Physiology, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Gibberellin-stimulated growth, University of Leicester

7 Jul 1979 → …

Award Date: 7 Jul 1979

Botany and Genetics, Bachelor of Science, University of Leicester

5 Jul 1975 → …

Award Date: 5 Jul 1975


  • QK Botany
  • Plant biochemistry
  • Plant cell walls
  • Plant cell expansion
  • Plant polysaccharides
  • Radiolabelling in vivo
  • Transglycosylase enzymes


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