Biological Chemistry and In Vitro Research

Undertaking fundamental and applied research on the characterisation, nature and uses of naturally occurring chemicals from plants and fungi.

Honey bees (Apis-mellifera)

Our research work is global with a strong focus on enhancing the livelihoods of the marginalised and resource poor.

We study the nutritional and medicinal usage of naturally occurring plant and fungal chemicals, this includes their:

  • impact on cognitive behaviour 
  • influence on biological interactions such as between flowers and pollinators
  • enhancing of bee health through their effects on gut parasites of bees and provision of key nutrients 
  • evolution of biosynthetic pathways
  •  in vivo effectiveness as human medicines, for example, wound treatments in Papua New Guinea 
  • molecular modes of action using yeast chemical genetics 
  • application in environmentally benign pest control such as the use of botanical insecticides

We also investigate symbiotic interactions of mycorrhizal fungi and plants to enhance the propagation and conservation of rare plant species in the UK particularly orchids.

Team members

Senior research leader
Professor Phil Stevenson

Research leaders
Dr Melanie-Jayne Howes
Dr Tom Prescott
Dr Moses Langat
Dr Viswambharan Sarasan

Career development fellow
Dr Alison Scott-Brown

Post-doctoral researchers
Dr Hauke Koch

Honorary research associate
Dr Iain Farrell


  • Bombus hortorum bee

    Harmful or healthy? Studying how chemicals in nectar and pollen affect bees

    Can diseased bees take advantage of these antimicrobial chemicals and self-medicate?

  • Green bush with yellow flowers

    Evaluating sustainable agro-ecological crop protection using pesticidal plants

    Developing plant-based pest management technologies for legumes and crops.

  • Bees

    The macronutrient regulation of adult worker honey bees

    Identifying how bees regulate protein and lipids in their diets.

  • Close up of croton megalocarpus nuts

    Optimising by-products from Croton megalocarpus seed oil extraction

    Chemically investigating the by-products of Croton megalocarpus oil (CMO) extraction to determine antifungal, anticancer and antimalarial properties.