Dr Gordon Williamson

ERC-funded Postdoc

 

Biography

I am a Senior Research Associate within the Lehtovirta-Morley lab at the University of East Anglia. I completed my BSc (Hons) at the University of Strathclyde in 2016 and gained an MSc with distinction in Industrial Biotechnology in 2017. This collaborative MSc incorporated teaching from several higher education institutions across Scotland, including the University of Edinburgh, St. Andrews University, and the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences. Through this degree I discovered my broader interest in protein expression and purification technologies and wanted to pursue these methodologies in a research environment. To do this, I returned to the University of Strathclyde to work in the lab of Dr. Arnaud Javelle, where I worked to elucidate the mechanism of ammonium transport in the E. coliprotein AmtB. Upon successful defence of my thesis, I worked with Professor Lars Jeuken at the University of Leeds to explore proton translocation mechanisms in mitochondrial complex I.  

 

Project Background and Aims

Ammonia oxidation is the first step of nitrification and an integral step in the global biogeochemical cycle and ammonia oxidising microorganisms (AOM) are key facilitators of this process. However, the activity of AOMs also results in enormous loss of ammonia-based fertiliser in agricultural environments. This represents an immense challenge of climate change and global food security, with pressures mounting as the world’s population continues to swell. To sustainably balance the nitrogen cycle and reduce the loss of fertiliser, it is essential that we attain a more thorough understanding of AOMs.

In my research, I aim to obtain a detailed mechanistic understanding of AOM biochemistry and to characterise ammonia monooxygenase (AMO), an enzyme which initiates nitrification by oxidizing ammonia to hydroxylamine. Due to prior difficulties in purifying AMO in an active form, the structure and function of the protein remains largely unexplored and is poorly understood. To overcome this challenge, I seek to establish a heterologous expression system for AMO proteins from bacteria and archaea. I will also investigate protein-protein interactions in archaeal and bacterial AMO. 

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Dr Gordon Williamson

School of Biological Sciences

University of East Anglia

Norwich Research Park

Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

Email: g.williamson@uea.ac.uk