Students Staff

Facilities and equipment

While studying or conducting research with us, you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

  • Biochemistry and biophysics

    We are fully equipped to perform cutting edge biophysical and biochemical research using a combination of conventional and custom designed apparatus, including:

    • Circular Dichroism to monitor secondary structures including chemical and thermal denaturation. We have a rapid-mixing attachment to allow for stopped flow CD and a magnetic attachment for mCD.
    • High-throughput supercomputing cluster.
    • Applied Photophysics stopped flow optical/fluorescence and laser flash photolysis set-ups for kinetic analysis.
    • A fully equipped in-house facility for protein crystallisation. We use leading synchrotron radiation facilities at Diamond Light Source, UK and the Swiss Light Source.
    • Extensive facilities for UV/visible/NIR and fluorescence spectroscopy.
    • A Microcal Isothermal Titration Calorimetry instrument for deriving the thermodynamics of protein ligand binding (for example substrates, inhibitors, DNA, RNA and other proteins).
    • Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) facilities to permit the study of a range of biomolecular interactions.
    • Extensive protein production and purification facilities. We are also fully equipped for large scale protein production from bacterial cultures and a Celligen Plus bioreactor is available for mammalian cell culture volumes of up to 10 L. Our protein purification suite includes three AKTA systems for ion exchange, size-exclusion, affinity chromatography and analytical/preparative HPLC.
    • Specialist facilities for X-band Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy - including apparatus for preparation of rapid-freeze quench samples.
    • Single molecule total internal reflectance (TIRF), oblique angle fluorescence (OAF), darkfield microscopy and laser tweezer facilities, and the capability for fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), confocal and widefield fluorescence microscopy.

  • Bioimaging

    Cell biology has been revolutionised by the introduction of methods based on microscopy. Fluorescence microscopy has developed over the last three decades into a powerful tool for biomedical and environmental research. Bioimaging - simply put, the photographing and filming of cells - is a long-established area of research undergoing a renaissance, and required or desirable for many PhD, Postdoc and technical positions.

    Our bioimaging facility includes:

    • modern lab space with dark rooms for several routine and advanced fluorescence microscopes;
    • high-throughput supercomputing cluster;
    • workstations and programs for image processing and analysis;
    • multi-dimensional fast (up to hundreds of images per second) and long-term (up to weeks) live cell imaging to develop our own methods, instruments and software for advanced applications; and
    • three-dimensional live-cell imaging, environmental imaging (plants, corals and single-celled organisms), single molecule imaging, and computational image analysis. These tools allow systematic studies of protein localisation in living cells and of the structure and function of single molecules and living tissues, producing highly accurate measured results, along with stunning images of a microworld invisible to the naked eye.

    We further offer comprehensive training tailored to the varying needs of users. This is supported by a separate training website(password protected site) with lecture notes, manuals, background reading and booking calendar. For practical training sessions, please contact the director of the bioimaging facility, Dr Philippe Laissue

  • Bioinformatics and computational biology

    We provide comprehensive bioinformatics support to aid our extensive application of post-genomics technologies.

    Cluster computing is essential for the analysis of high throughput sequencing of the transcriptome and genome but also for the protein identification based on mass spectrometry.

    Our facilities include:

    • powerful web-server workstations to allow efficient processing of large datasets;
    • high-throughput supercomputing cluster;
    • web-based services that allow users access to online applications for sequence manipulations and database access for the Plant Productivity (PP) group;
    • highly optimised in-house tools providing speed, accuracy and comprehensive interpretation of results;
    • Bayesian biological network modelling which can be incorporated into workflows using high performance computing resources that are accessed at the National Grid Service;
    • user-friendly interfaces developed for accessing online resources that allow our facilities to be used for teaching and research; and
    • bioinformaticians who can provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of computational biology.

    • Cellular and molecular biology

      We provide excellent facilities for cellular molecular biology research. There are several dedicated cell/tissue rooms containing equipment such as:

      • multiple laminar flow cabinets;
      • CO2 incubators;
      • microscopes;
      • centrifuges and ultracentrifuges;
      • cryostats and multiple laminar flow hoods;
      • controlled-environment incubators;
      • electroporator;
      • high-throughput supercomputing cluster;
      • liquid nitrogen and freezer storage systems;
      • PCR thermocyclers including quantitative PCR using Taqman and Cybergreen-based methods;
      • gel documentation systems;
      • optical/fluorescence plate readers;
      • Biacore surface plasmon resonance;
      • fully computerised ELISA machine;
      • facilities to work with recombinant DNA; and
      • a recently radioisotope suite.

    • Environmental science

      Our fully equipped laboratories are staffed by two full-time technicians who facilitate sampling and fieldwork from a range of natural environments across the globe.

      Specific facilities include a large purpose-built wet lab and constant-temperature growth rooms from -12°C to +40°C. Our analytical laboratories include:

      • four GCs with diverse detectors (MS, FID, FPD, ECD) for trace gases;
      • hydrocarbon and polysaccharide analyses;
      • high-throughput supercomputing cluster;
      • a new Nutrient Autoanalysis suite as well as sediment oxygen/nutrient flux systems;
      • Dionex anion and cation exchange chromatography;
      • an HPLC;
      • atomic absorption spectrophotometer;
      • two GCs connected to mass spectrometers; and
      • a Fast Isoprene Sensor.

      We also conduct fieldwork in a wide range of locations and habitats (both terrestrial and aquatic. Fieldwork equipment includes:

      • two departmental fieldwork vehicles with full off-road 4x4 capability;
      • two departmental boats (7m and 3m RIB);
      • Van Veen grab samplers;
      • diving PAM;
      • field analytical equipment (light, pH, temperature and conductivity meters and automated data loggers;
      • underwater video camera;
      • full face mask with communications equipment;
      • GPS units; and
      • field generators.

      In-field logistical support is provided by trained technical staff with full first-aid training and is facilitated by close links with various local and national agencies.

      We also have access to many other departmental facilities.

    • Marine science

      We employ walk-in chambers and a state-of-the-art tropical research aquarium facility that are fully climate-controllable for experiments on organisms from microbes to coral. A broad range of equipment is dedicated to sample analysis including a high-throughput supercomputing cluster, and:

      • gas chromotographers;
      • mass spectrometers; and
      • a uPLC.

      We also have an array of bio-optical equipment:

      • FRR Fastracka I and II;
      • Xenon, Diving and PAM fluorometers;
      • bench top and field portable spectrophotometers;
      • spectrofluorometers; and
      • LED Flash-Yield systems.

      Many of these instruments have been either customised or built in-house.

      Work in marine sciences is strongly linked with specialised molecular and ‘omics’ facilities and our bioimaging suite. Fieldwork is a major component of our research and we utilise coastal field site facilities, in both the UK and numerous partner institutes overseas, for benthic and pelagic sampling.

      • Metagenomics and transcriptomics

        An "omics" based approach for examining novel questions in biology is central to the ongoing research within our School, particularly questions which focus on metagenetics, metagenomics, (meta)transcriptomics and proteomics.

        Our laboratories are fully equipped with high-throughput processing of samples ready for quantification using the latest "omics" technologies such as Next Generation Sequencing. We have invested heavily in a supportive infrastructure for these approaches and sample processing is possible across our laboratories using:

        • numerous PCR and quantitative PCR machines;
        • gel-running apparatus;
        • denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis equipment;
        • Bioanalyser;
        • High-throughput supercomputing cluster;
        • Nanodrop; and
        • gel-imaging and documentation equipment.

        Downstream processing of samples is possible using our extensive facilities.

      • Plant physiology and phenotyping

        We employ a range of non-invasive techniques including state-of-the-art imaging for plant phenotyping. We have also developed and built in-house instrumentation and software to extend our considerable plant physiology suite.

        We are fully equipped to perform cutting edge plant physiology and phenotyping research using a combination of conventional and custom designed apparatus including:

        • Chlorophyll fluorescence imaging of whole plants (low res ) and cells (high res)
        • High resolutions imaging of wavelength specific bands (e.g. for imaging ROS)
        • Thermal imaging of stomatal conductance
        • Imaging plant Water Use Efficiency
        • Infra-red gas exchange analysis – including whole plant chambers for Arabidopsis
        • Phenotyping plant form with watering control capabilities and dynamic light regimes
        • Dynamic lighting platforms
        • Spectral reflectance
        • Water regimes including hydraulic conductance
        • High-throughput supercomputing cluster

      • Proteomics

        Our academic and technical staff have extensive experience in quantitative proteomics utilising stable isotope labelling and label-free approaches, mass spectrometry-based analysis of protein phosphorylation and protein-protein interactions.

        Proteomics facilities include:

        • several mass spectrometers including a state-of-the-art hybrid high-resolution LTQ/Orbitrap Velos instrument;
        • an LTQ/Orbitrap Velis instrument interfaced with a splitless nano-scale liquid chromatography system for fully automatic genome-scale analysis of protein abundance and post-translational modifications;
        • High-throughput supercomputing cluster;
        • equipment for high-resolution protein separation and sample preparation prior to mass spectrometry; and
        • two dedicated multi-processor servers and several computer workstations operating both open-source and commercial software such as Mascot Server.