Jim Dunwell

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Professor Jim Dunwell is a researcher into plant biochemistry and physiology.

Research interests

These are focussed in three areas. First, I have a particular interest in the structure, function, and modification of the recently identified cupin superfamily of functionally-diverse plant proteins (see below). These include the seed storage proteins, the germins (cereal oxalate oxidases), the germin-like proteins and auxin binding proteins. In particular we are investigating the conservation of the active site residues within these proteins and their potential use in improving the response of transgenic plants to plant pathogens and to abiotic stress.

The second is the application of Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) technology to the study of gene expression in plants, in particular in the cereals rice and wheat.

The third is the development and applications of transgenic plants. This includes novel techniques for DNA introduction into plant cells, and the use of new methods for regeneration from single somatic cells.

Collaborative links: I have numerous collaborative links with international academic establishments, and commercial research organisations.

Current research projects

Study of the structure, function, and evolution of cupin proteins. Production and analysis of crop plants transformed with the oxalate oxidase gene from barley. This includes study of the behaviour of the transgene in the heterologous species, and its effect on tolerance to fungal pathogens, and to salt/osmotic stress.

Application of SAGE methods to gene expression in rice and wheat.

Regeneration from leaf cells, especially guard cells, of crop species.

Recent Publications

Dunwell, J.M. Transgenic crops: the current and next generations. In: Peña, L. (ed) Methods in Molecular Biology: Transgenic Plants: Methods and Protocols, Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ, 286, 2004, 377-397.

Dunwell, J.M. Plant Genetic Engineering, Ecological Issues. In: Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Sciences, eds. B. Thomas, D.J. Murphy and B.G. Murray, Elsevier Academic Press, 2003, 295-301.

Dunwell, J.M. Structure, function and evolution of vicilin and legumin seed storage proteins. Biopolymers: Polyamides and Complex Proteinaceous Materials II, (Steinbuchel, A, Fahnestock, S.R. (eds)), 8, 2003, 223-253, ISBN 3-527-30223-9, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim.

Dunwell, J.M. Transgenic approaches to crop improvement. J. Exp. Bot. 51, 2000, 487-496 [View PDF File].

Dunwell, J.M. Transgenic crop plants: the next generation or an example 2020 vision. Ann. Bot. 84, 1999, 269-277.

Dunwell, J.M. Novel food products from genetically modified crop plants: methods and future prospects. Int. J. Food Sci. Tech. 33, 1998, 205-213 [View PDF File]

Dunwell, J.M. Cupins: a new superfamily of functionally-diverse proteins that include germins and plant seed storage proteins. Biotechnology Genet. Engineering Rev. 15, 1998, 1-32.

Dunwell, J.M., Culham, A., Carter, C.E., Sosa-Aguirre, C.R. and Goodenough, P.W. Evolution of functional diversity in the cupin superfamily. Trends Biochem. Sci. 26, 2001, 740-746.

Dunwell, J.M. and Gane, P.J. Microbial relatives of seed storage proteins: conservation of motifs in a functionally diverse superfamily of enzymes. J. Mol. Evol. 46, 1998, 147-154.

Dunwell, J.M., Keith, D.J. and Nobre, J.M.P. Method for the Production of Cotton Somatic Embryos. United States Patent Application: 0030143744, 2003, 1-15.

Dunwell, J.M., Khuri, S. and Gane, P.J. Microbial relatives of the seed storage proteins of higher plants: conservation of structure, and diversification of function during evolution of the cupin superfamily. Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev. 64, 2000, 153-179.

Dunwell, J.M., Purvis, A. and Khuri, S. Cupins: the most functionally diverse protein superfamily? Phytochemistry, 65, 2004, 7-17.

Gane, P.J., Dunwell, J.M. and Warwicker, J. Homology modelling based on the structure of vicilins predicts a histidine cluster in the active site of oxalate oxidase. J. Mol. Evol. 46, 1998, 488-493.

Gibbings, J.G., Cook, B.P., Dufault, M.R., Madden, S.L., Khuri, S., Turnbull, C.J. and Dunwell, J.M. Global transcript analysis of rice leaf and seed using SAGE technology. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 1, 2003, 271-285.

Khuri. S., Bakker, F.T., Dunwell, J.M. Phylogeny, function and evolution of the cupins, a structurally conserved, functionally diverse superfamily of proteins. Mol. Biol. Evol. 18, 2001, 593-605.

Nobre J., Keith, D.J., Dunwell, J.M. ) Morphogenesis and regeneration from stomatal guard cell complexes of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Plant Cell Reports 20, 2001, 8-15.

Woo, E-J., Dunwell, J.M., Goodenough, P.W., Marvier A.C. and Pickersgill, R.W. Germin is a manganese containing homohexamer with oxalate oxidase and superoxide dismutase activities. Nature Struct. Biol. 7, 2000, 1036-1040.

Further publications (general reviews)

Dunwell, J.M. Genetically modified food. In: Encyclopedia of Pest Management. Ed: D. Pimental. New York, Marcel Dekker, 2002 (in press)

Dunwell, J.M., Moya-Leon, M.A. and Herrera, R. Transcriptome analysis and crop improvement. Biological Research 34, 2001, 153-164.

Dunwell, J.M. Modifying quality traits: future prospects. In: BCPC Conference "Weeds 2001". British Crop Protection Council, Farnham, 2001, pp 421-430.

Contact Info

Plant Sciences Academic Staff
Email: j.dunwell@reading.ac.uk
Telephone: 0118 378 6313
Room Number: 120