Beacon Team Member

Dr Ifat Parveen

BEACON Scientist

Aberystwyth University


I received my PhD at the University of Bath (England, UK), in 2001 on a thesis entitled "Novel Hypoxia-Selective Prodrugs of Radiosensitisers and Chemosensitisers" under the supervision of Professor Mike D. Threadgill Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology) and Dr. William J. D. Whish (Department of Biology and Biochemistry). I joined IGER in 2002 as the post-doctoral researcher on a BBSRC-LINK project (Phytochemical library from British plants 2002-2004) with a pharmaceutical industrial partner (Molecular Nature Ltd.) on the isolation and identification of natural plant products. This gave me the opportunity to expand my skills into natural product chemistry enhancing my PhD studies in which I trained as a synthetic medicinal chemist focusing on design, synthesis and evaluation of drugs for cancer therapy. In 2004, I was made principal investigator on a metabolomics project to develop a pre-mortem diagnostic test for transmissible spongiform encepathalopathy (TSE) diseases in sheep and cattle. I have since also worked on a project concerned with utilising a metabolomics approach to improve animal health and performance. In April 2009, I joined the Biorenewables and Environmental Change division at IBERS.

Research Interests

  • Recovery and conversion of secondary plant metabolites with biorefinery potential.
  • Recovery and purification of secondary metabolites with medicinal potential.
  • Development of chemical synthesis of alternative biofuels from perennial grass feedstocks.

Current work involves the synthesis of cell wall ferulate dimers which could be used with the aim of generating monoclonal antibodies that specifically recognise the presence of dehydroferulate esters. The availability of these antibodies will provide a valuable tool for screening of energy grass germplasm collections to identify those genotypes with low abundance of diferulates, thus determining the saccharification potential. This then enables hydrolysis to be tailored specifically to target the crosslinking of diferulates to polysaccharides. This work is carried out in collaboration with Dr. Maurice Bosch. Synthesis of target substrates to develop screening ‘tool kits’ for quantifying individual enzymes in novel germplasm and mapping populations. In conjunction with this objective, I have also synthesised potential substrates of enzymes in order to determine metabolic pathways within germplasm to be screened.

BEACON Activities

The overall aim of the Beacon project is to identify plants with increased biorefining potential and to develop renewable sources of compounds that have possible applications for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, agricultural, food and non-food industries. My specific role is ‘The recovery and conversion of complex organic plant compounds with bio-refining potential’. After chemotype population separation, detailed chemical analysis (non-polar and polar profiling) will be carried out in order to differentiate chemistries of various feedstocks. Chemical composition will be correlated with genotypes that differ in traits such as yield fermentability and thermochemical conversion. All chemical compounds or classes of compounds will then be directed towards their best commercial end use as either high value chemicals or conversion and investigated for linkage to other biorefining traits (fermentation and thermochemical conversion).These plants are exploited in order to develop new genotypes to improve yield fermentability and thermochemical energy. The Beacon project seeks to utilise complex chemical compounds identified during the process of profiling and classifying test germplasm.

Future Plans

To use the knowledge and expertise gained during this project to develop some of the interesting molecules for commercial application.

We would also be interested in investigating correlation between biorefining traits (yield fermentability and thermochemical energy) and soluble chemistries

Recent Publications

  • Parveen, I.; Threadgill, M. D.; Hauck, B.; Donnison, I.; Winters, A. Isolation, identification and quantitation of hydroxycinnamic acid conjugates, potential platform chemicals, in the leaves and stems of Miscanthus x giganteus using LC-ESI-MSn. Phytochemistry 2011, 72, (18), 2376-2384.
  • Parveen, I.; Threadgill, M. D.; Moorby, J. M.; Winters, A. Oxidative phenols in forage crops containing polyphenol oxidase enzymes. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2010, 58, 1371-1382.
  • Parveen, I.; Winters, A.; Threadgill, M. D.; Hauck, B.; Morris, P. Extraction, structural characterisation and evaluation of hydroxycinnamate esters of orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) as substrates for polyphenol oxidase. Phytochemistry 2008, 69, 2799-2806.