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Grantley Lycett

Lecturer in Plant Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science

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Teaching Summary

Grantley Lycett is an experienced university teacher and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

He currently teaches on D212P3 Genes and cells 2, D224P8 Plant biotechnology and molecular pharming, C13569 Fundamental and applied aspects of plant genetic manipulation(B.Sc. version), D24003 Fundamental and applied aspects of plant genetic manipulation (M.Sc. version) and D24006 Plant genetic manipulation dissertation (M.Sc.).

Up until September 2015 he had more extensive roles in teaching and teaching administration including:

Chair of the Postgraduate Taught Courses Committee, Course Manager for B.Sc Biotechnology and Course manager for B.Sc. Applied Biology, both of which he was instrumental in setting up and Course Director and Course Manager for M.Sc. Crop Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship.

Module convenor for D223P5 Plant Biotechnology, C13569 Fundamental and Applied Aspects of Plant Genetic Manipulation, D24003 Fundamental and Applied Aspects of Plant Genetic Manipulation (M.Sc.) and D24CBP Crop Biotechnology technology transfer project.

In addition to supervising research projects by undergraduate and taught masters students, he taught on D211P1 Genes and Cells 1 (Semester 1), D212P3 Genes and Cells 2 (Semester 2), D223P5 Plant Biotechnology (Semester 3), D223F1 Food Commodities (Semester 3), D224P2 Tutorials in Biosciences (Semester 4), C13569 Fundamental and Applied Aspects of Plant Gene Manipulation (Semester 5), D24003 Fundamental and Applied Aspects of Plant Gene Manipulation (M.Sc.), D24006 Plant Genetic Manipulation Dissertation (M.Sc.)

Research Summary

My research focuses on several areas of the molecular mechanisms underlying the genetic and cellular control of fruit ripening and seed development and germination and how these can be exploited for… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

My research focuses on several areas of the molecular mechanisms underlying the genetic and cellular control of fruit ripening and seed development and germination and how these can be exploited for biotechnological purposes. One particular focus that links these studies is the mechanism of secretion of proteins and polysaccharides and the role of Rab GTPases in this control.

Examples of current projects:

1 The role of Rab GTPases in regulating trafficking

The finding that a Rab GTPase is expressed specifically during fruit ripening in mango led to the hypothesis that it helps to regulate fruit softening by controlling secretion of hydrolytic enzymes. This was supported by the confirmation that the antisense inhibition of LeRab11a gene expression caused reduced softening of fruit. More recent work in tobacco protoplast systems has shown that this Rab GTPase (a close homologue or AtRABA1a) is located at the TGN/EE compartment and regulates secretion of cargoes to the PM via a specific route characterised by a specifc syntaxin. More recently still, we have shown that mutating particular classes of RABA genes will cause changes in the proportions of different components of the cell wall of Arabidopsis and that the cell walls of one class are more readily saccharified: a finding with implications for bioethanol fuel production..

Collaborators: Greg Tucker (Nottingham), Chungui Lu (Nottingham), Gian Pietro DiSansebastiano and Giuseppe Dalessandro (Universita di Salerno)

Publications on trafficking:

  1. Lunn, D., Ibbett, R., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (2015) Impact of altered cell wall composition on saccharification efficiency in stem tissue of Arabidopsis RABA GTPase-deficient knockout mutants. BioEnergy Research 8, 1362-1370.
  2. Lunn, D., Gaddipati, S.R., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (2013) Null mutants of individual RABA genes impact the proportion of different cell wall components in stem tissue of Arabidopsis thaliana.PLoS ONE 8, e75721.
  3. Lunn, D., Phan, T.D., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett. (2013). Cell wall composition of tomato fruit changes during development and inhibition of vesicle trafficking is associated with reduced pectin levels and reduced softening Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 66, 91-97
  4. Tyler, A.M., Poole, M., Bhandari, D.G., Napier, J.A., Jones, H.D., Lu, C. and Lycett, G.W. (2011) Manipulating Rab GTPase activity in wheat to improve gluten quality for breadmaking. Aspects of Applied Biology. 110, 15-23
  5. Lycett, G. (2008) The role of Rab GTPases in cell wall metabolism. J. Exp. Bot., 59, 4061-4074.
  6. Rehman, R.U., Stigliano, E., Lycett, G.W., Sticher, L., Sbano, F., Faraco, M., Dalessandro, G. and Di Sansebastiano, G.P. (2008) Tomato Rab11a characterization evidenced a difference between SYP121 dependent and SYP122 dependent exocytosis. Plant Cell Physiol., 49, 751-766.
  7. Lu, C., Zainal, Z., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (2001) Developmental abnormalities and reduced fruit softening in tomato plants expressing an antisense Rab11 GTPase gene. Plant Cell, 13, 1819-1833.
  8. Zainal, Z., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (1996) A rab11-like gene is developmentally regulated in ripening mango (Mangifera indica L.) fruit. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1314, 187-190.

2 The secretion of enzymes to the cell walls of ripening fruit Work on the molecular biology of fruit ripening over many years led to the discovery of the function of several important genes. One of these is a Rab11 GTPase. Rabs are known to be involved in the control of vesicle trafficking; the process by which proteins and other macromolecules are moved between membrane bound compartments of the cell or secreted out of the cell. By inactivating the gene in tomato, we were able to show that this protein is involved in two processes:

  • The protein is needed for the secretion of cell wall modifying enzymes in ripening fruit. This has implications for the modification of cell wall structure and fruit quality and further work is now being carried out by a Ph.D. student.
  • The modified plants show a range of phenotypes that are normally associated with disruption of hormone levels. We believe that these phenotypes arise from an inability to correctly target hormone receptors and/or hormone transporters to their target membranes. This has the potential to throw light on an important and neglected aspect of plant cellular physiology.

Other important tomato genes discovered include several chaperonins, an aquaporin and an ACC oxidase gene. The ACC oxidase gene, which encodes the enzyme that catalyses the last step in the biosynthesis of the plant hormone ethene (formerly known as ethylene), was the first unknown gene to be identified by antisensetechnology. This led to two further studies:

  • We showed that ethene biosynthesis in the leaves of flood stressed plants involves induction of ACO genes and not just anincrease in substrate levels.
  • The mode of action of gene silencing has been studied in tomato using chimeric transgenes. Evidence has been found to support similarities in the modes of action of sense and antisense transgenes and for the fact that plants are mozaics of cells in 'on' and 'off' states.

Current Lab Members: Nengi Lawson (PhD student)

Former Lab Members: Daniel Lunn, Kunal Saini, Gurpreet Balrey, Zamri Zainal, Chungui Lu,

Collaborators: Don Grierson, Greg Tucker, Graham Seymour, Chin Chiew Foan, Asgar Ali (All Nottingham).

Publications on fruit:

  1. Lunn, D., Phan, T.D., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett. (2013). Cell wall composition of tomato fruit changes during development and inhibition of vesicle trafficking is associated with reduced pectin levels and reduced softening Plant Physiol. Biochem.. 66, 91-97
  2. Phan, T.D., Bo, W., West, G., Lycett, G.W. and Tucker, G.A. (2007) Silencing of the major salt-dependent isoform of pectinesterase in tomato alters fruit softening. Plant Physiol., 144, 1960-1967.
  3. Lu, C., Zainal, Z., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (2001) Developmental abnormalities and reduced fruit softening in tomato plants expressing an antisense Rab11 GTPase gene. Plant Cell, 13, 1819-1833.
  4. Zainal, Z., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (1999) Isolation and characterisation of a cDNA encoding 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase from mango (Mangifera indica L.). Asia Pacific J. Mol. Biol. Biotechnol., 7, 53-59.
  5. Jones, C.G., Scothern, G.P., Lycett, G.W. and Tucker, G.A. (1998) The effect of chimeric transgene architecture on co-ordinated gene silencing. Planta, 204, 499-505.
  6. Zainal, Z., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (1996) A rab11-like gene is developmentally regulated in ripening mango (Mangifera indica L.) fruit. Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 1314, 187-190.
  7. Fray, R.G., Wallace, A., Grierson, D. and Lycett, G.W. (1994) Nucleotide sequence and expression of a ripening and water stress-related cDNA from tomato with homology to the MIP class of membrane channel proteins. Plant Mol. Biol. 24, 539-543.
  8. Hamilton, A.J., Lycett, G.W. and Grierson, D. (1990) Antisense gene that inhibits synthesis of the hormone ethylene in transgenic plants. Nature, 346, 284-287.

Patents:

  1. Grierson, D., Hamilton, A.H. and Lycett, G.W. DNA constructs, cells and plants derived therefrom. U.K. patent application no 8916213.5. 14th July 1989. Published as: WO9101375-A, 07 Feb 1991; AU9060423-A, 22 Feb 1991; EP482053-A, 29 Apr 1992; BR9007523-A, 23 Jun 1992; JP4506602-W, 19 Nov 1992; US5365015-A, 15 Nov 1994; US5530190-A, 25 Jun 1996; JP3349509-B2, 25 Nov 2002; EP482053-B1, 09 Apr 2003; DE69034056-E, 15 May 2003; ES2195993-T3, 16 Dec 2003
  2. Bird, C.R., Fray, R.G., Grierson, D., Lycett, G.W., Ray, J.A. and Schuch, W.W. DNA, DNA constructs, cells and plants derived therefrom. U.K. patent application no 9018612.3. 24th August 1990. Published as: WO9203562-A, 05 Mar 1992; AU9184191-A, 17 Mar 1992; EP546016-A1, 16 Jun 1993; US5304490-A, 19 Apr 1994
  3. Fray, R.G., Grierson, D., Lycett, G.W. and Schuch, W.W. DNA, DNA constructs, cells and plants derived therefrom. U.K. patent application no 9106713.2. 28th March 1991. Published as: WO9217596-A1, 15 Oct 1992; AU9214340-A, 2 Nov 1992; JP6506110-W, 14 Jul 1994; BR9205814-A, 28 Jun 1994; EP618975-A1, 12 Oct 1994

3 The synthesis and secretion of seed proteins in pea and in wheat and the effect on milling quality

I have a long-standing interest in another part of the plant that secretes proteins intra and extracellularly, namely the seed. Having published extensively on the seed protein genes of pea in the early 1980s and subsequently on the proteases found in germinating seeds and the genes involved in maintenance of seed dormancy, the latest research of the group is on the potential to modify the milling and baking quality of wheat by modifying the trafficking of prolamins to the aleurone grains by inhibiting Rab GTPase activity.

Former Lab Members: Adam Tyler, Paul Bailey, Craigh Jones (Ph.D students)

Collaborators: Johnathan Napier and Huw Jones (Rothamsted Research), Dhan Bhandari (Campden BRI), Chungui Lu (Nottingham)

Funding: BBSRC Industrial CASE Partnership Award from Campden BRI.

Publications on seeds:

  1. Tyler, A.M., Bhandari, D.G., Poole, M., Napier, J.A., Jones, H.D., Lu, C. and Lycett, G.W. (2015) Gluten quality of bread wheat is associated with activity of RabD GTPases. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 13, 163-176
  2. Tyler, A.M., Poole, M., Bhandari, D.G., Napier, J.A., Jones, H.D., Lu, C. and Lycett, G.W. (2011) Manipulating Rab GTPase activity in wheat to improve gluten quality for breadmaking. Aspects of Applied Biology. 110, 15-23
  3. Baiiley, P.C., Lycett, G.W. and Roberts, J.A. (1996) A molecular study of dormancy breaking and germination in seeds of Trollius ledebourii. Plant Molecular Biology, 32, 559-564.
  4. Jones, C.G., Tucker, G.A. and Lycett, G.W. (1996) Pattern of expression and characteristics of a cysteine protease cDNA from germinating seeds of pea (Pisum sativum L.). Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1296, 13-15.
  5. Jones, C.G., Lycett, G.W. and Tucker, G.A. (1996) Protease inhibitor studies and cloning of a serine carboxypeptidase cDNA from germinating seeds of pea (Pisum sativum L.). European Journal of Biochemistry, 235, 574-578.
  6. Lycett, G.W., Croy, R.R.D., Shirsat, A.H., Richards, D.M. and Boulter, D. (1985) The 5ยข-flanking regions of three pea legumin genes: comparison of the DNA sequences. Nucleic Acids Research, 13, 6733-6743.
  7. Evans, I.M., Bown, D., Lycett, G.W., Croy, R.R.D., Boulter, D. and Gatehouse, J.A. (1985) Transcription of a legumin gene from pea (Pisum sativum L.) in vitro. Planta, 165, 554-560.
  8. Lycett, G.W., Croy, R.R.D., Shirsat, A.H. and Boulter, D. (1984) The complete nucleotide sequence of a legumin gene from pea (Pisum sativum L.). Nucleic Acids Research, 12, 4493-4506.
  9. Lycett, G.W., Delauney, A.J., Zhao, W., Gatehouse, J.A., Croy, R.R.D. and Boulter, D. (1984) Two cDNA clones coding for the legumin protein of Pisum sativum L. contain sequence repeats. Plant Molecular Biology, 3, 91-96.
  10. Evans, I.M., Gatehouse, J.A., Lycett, G.W. and Boulter, D. (1984) Use of synthetic oligodeoxyribonucleotides and primed cDNA as probes for pea (Pisum sativum L.) RNA and genomic DNA sequences. Plant Molecular Biology, 3, 73-81
  11. Gatehouse, J.A., Lycett, G.W., Delauney, A.J., Croy, R.R.D. and Boulter, D. (1983) Sequence specificity of the post-translational proteolytic cleavage of vicilin, a seed storage protein of pea (Pisum sativum L.). The Biochemical Journal, 212, 427-432.
  12. Lycett, G.W., Delauney, A.J., Gatehouse, J.A., Gilroy, J., Croy, R.R.D. and Boulter, D. (1983) The vicilin gene family of pea (Pisum sativum L.): a complete cDNA coding sequence for preprovicilin. Nucleic Acids Research, 11, 2367-2380.
  13. Gatehouse, J.A., Lycett, G.W., Croy, R.R.D. and Boulter, D. (1982) The post-translational proteolysis of the subunits of vicilin from pea (Pisum sativum L.). The Biochemical Journal, 207, 629-632.
  14. Croy, R.R.D., Lycett, G.W., Gatehouse, J.A., Yarwood, J.N. and Boulter, D. (1982) Cloning and analysis of cDNAs encoding plant storage protein precursors. Nature, 295, 76-79.

Past Research

As PhD studies, I undertook work on the control of chromosome replication in the bacterium Escherichia coli. This encompassed work on control of F plasmid replication when integrated into the chromosome and chromosome replication in a dnaA mutant.

School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

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