Dr Michael Jarvis

Department of Chemistry
University of Glasgow

Glasgow G12 8QQ


Telephone: +44 (0) 141 330 4653
FAX: +44 (0) 330 4888

email: mikej@chem.gla.ac.uk


Research Interests                                                                                                            

Mike Jarvis's research group works on plant cell walls and the polymers that comprise them, from a variety of points of view: plant development and biomechanics, wood science, food texture. Most cell-wall polymers are carbohydrates with a spectacular capacity for forming complex supramolecular structures. They are at the centre of the fundamental mechanisms by which plants take shape and withstand the forces imposed on them by their environment.






 Solid-state NMR


 Food crops

 FTIR microscopy


Plant Cell Walls

Plant cell walls are among the most sophisticated structural materials known to man. They also control the growth and form of plants: in fact the growth of a plant is, in one sense, simply the growth of its cell walls. And in the form of wood, plant cell walls are the most abundant material in the living world.  Our long-term objective is to understand how the strength and resilience of the cell wall is derived from its molecular architecture, but we are also concerned with the role of cell walls in the growth and development of plants. Applied projects are on an equal footing with fundamental science.

Much of our present research uses spectroscopic methods. We were one of the first groups to apply solid-state NMR spectroscopy to plant materials, not only to investigate polymer structures and conformations but also to probe the rigidity of individual polymers within the composite network that comprises the cell wall. We have pioneered the use of this method to measure molecular rigidity in living plant materials as well as in cell walls extracted from them. We also use FTIR microscopy in a number of innovative ways, making use of polarisation as a probe for molecular or bond orientation and bandshifts to measure the distortion of molecules when the sample is under mechanical stress. More recently, with various collaborators at Glasgow and elsewhere, we have been using both small- and wide-angle scattering methods to look at order and disorder in the structure cellulose microfibrils. Cellulose looks simple - just a linear polymer of glucose. But when a number of cellulose chains aggregate into microfibrils, much more interesting things can happen. We are working towards models of microfibril structure in higher plants, with the celluloses from celery collenchyma and sitka spruce as models for growing and woody plant parts respectively.

If you are interested in working with us or in coming here as a research student, please feel free to contact us informally. For general information on employment at the University of Glasgow follow this link.

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