ChemBioPlants Network


McCullagh Research Group

The McCullagh Group, Associate Professor in Mass Spectrometry, Head of the Mass Spectrometry Research Facility,, Telephone: 44 (0) 1865 275 657. Mass Spectrometry Research Facility web site

The McCullagh group works on the development and application of analytical methods applied at the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine with special interest in metabolomics. We have a number of ongoing collaborative projects in the areas of plant metabolism and metabolic profiling. The following are a selection of current collaborations:

Metabolic Profiling for Therapeutic Potential of Species-rich Grasslands for Impact on Livestock Heath. In collaboration with Katherine French (Plant Sciences) we are conducting a pilot study to identify metabolite profiles associated with species rich grasslands and their impact on livestock health. We want to understand the ecology, development, and bioactivity of plant secondary metabolites with antibiotic and anthelmintic activities at the molecular, plant, and field level. We will use this information to develop new plant-based treatments for controlling livestock microbial and parasitic infections.

Differential Metabolomics of Pea Roots During Rhizobial Colonization. In collaboration with Professor Philip Poole (Plant Sciences) we are working on establishing how bacteria attach to roots by integrating spatial imaging of root secretion with metabolite identification. Subsequently, it will help us to engineer synthetic nitrogen fixing symbioses, where we can associate nitrogen-fixing bacteria to cereal roots.

Small molecule and genetic characterization of Propolis. Propolis is a resinous substance collected by bees to seal holes in their honeycombs. It is reputed to have antiseptic properties and play a role in bee and colony health. Its chemical composition is not well characterised and whether this varies geographically. In collaboration with Professor Robert Scotland (Plant Sciences) and Professor Tim Claridge (Chemistry) we are profiling the chemical composition of propolis and looking at how this correlates with geographical location and species markers based on gene sequencing of DNA from in the propolis.

Identification of the Synthetic Broad Spectrum 2-Oxoglutarate Oxygenase Inhibitor N-Oxalylglycine in Rhubarb and Spinach Leaves. Synthetic N-oxalylglycine (NOG) has been identified as a broad-spectrum 2OG oxygenase inhibitor.  We recently report the identification of NOG as a natural product present in rhubarb and spinach leaves; NOG was not observed in Escherchia coli or human embryonic kidney cells. Khalid Al-Qahtani et al.Phytochemistry 117 (2015) 456-461).

We are always interested in new collaborations which meet mutual interests. Please contact James McCullagh (