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Professor Richard Napier





Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7657 5094
WebLink: Napier Lab

Research Interests

  • See our new paper on tomographic docking of auxins, link from group webpage.
  • Molecular recognition is at the heart of the group's activities, in particular the binding and selectivity of hormones by their receptors. There are two principal projects at present, the development of a new generation of biosensors for quantitating hormone concentrations in vivo, and the kinetic characterisation of the auxin receptor TIR1.
  • Biosensors combine a biological recognition domain with a physicochemical output unit. Like receptor proteins, recognition domains need to recognise analytes with appropriate sensitivity and selectivity and we are collecting suitable hormone sensor elements. In order to sample from living plants in real-time we are harnessing microtechnologies by working with the experienced neurobiology electrophysiology group of Prof Nick Dale. We have developed microsensors for cytokinins with low nanomolar sensitivity
  • Many of the defining responses to auxin are mediated through the receptor protein known as TIR1. In collaboration with Dr Stefan Kepinski (University of Leeds) and Syngenta UK we are investigating the auxin-mediated kinetics of Aux/IAA transcription factor binding to the SCFTIR1 complex. Much of the work uses Biacore surface plasmon resonance (SPR) instruments to record binding in real-time.
  • Tomographic docking. We have developed a new application of AutoDock Vina to examine the interactions ligands make on their way down into deep binding pockets. Our work suggests molecular filters contribute to selection long before docking occurs.


BSc (Hons) Plant Science, University of Reading, 1980 PhD, University of Leicester, 1984 Awards and External Appointments: 1995 President's Medal, Society for Experimental Biology 2003 - 2011, Visiting Professor, University of Nottingham. 1997 - 2005, Council member, The Society for Experimental Biology 2001 -2005, Chair, Plant Section, The Society for Experimental Biology 2001 - 2005, Management Committee, The Society for Experimental Biology 2000 – 2008, Education and Public Affairs Committee, The Society for Experimental Biology Editorial Boards: Journal of Experimental Botany Editorial Panel, 1996 – 2002 Editorial Board, 2002 – present Reviews Editor, 2008 – present Planta, Editorial Board, 1998 – 2011 Journal Management Committees: Journal of Experimental Botany, 2001 - 2005 The Plant Biotechnology Journal, 2003 - 2005

Research Projects

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Post Graduate Supervision

  • Binding of natural metabolites to bacterial transcriptional repressors as tools for synthetic biology
  • The role of SUMO in DELLA-regulated growth control in plants Date of Completion:2013
  • The mechanism of binding in TIR1, an auxin receptor
  • Light harvesting efficiency in self-assembling porphyrinic polymer-based nanostructures

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