School of Physics and Astronomy

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Dr Peter Adams

Molecular and Nanoscale Physics Group

Contact details

Room: 8.50a
Tel: +44 (0)113 3439718
Email: P.G.Adams @


Lipid membranes
Light-harvesting membrane proteins
Atomic force microscopy

Research interests

All biological cells, from bacteria to human epithelia, are surrounded by membranes comprised of lipids, proteins and other molecules. Biological cell membranes rely upon complex, hierarchical organization to elicit functional responses. To achieve specialized function some membranes form organized domains of protein proteins and multilamellar stacked arrangements, such as those found in the certain membranes involved in photosynthesis ("light-harvesting" membranes). My research aims to develop new artificial 3-D-organized stacked membranes inspired by chloroplast thylakoids. We take a multi-disciplinary approach combining aspects of surface chemistry, nano/micro fabrication, protein biochemistry, spectroscopy and various microscopies to fully explore these membranes.

Synthetic biology often uses genetic engineering or de novo chemical synthesis to develop minimal and/or modular systems of DNA, peptide sequences or organic molecules than can perform novel functions. My research uses purified LH proteins and natural lipids as building blocks to generate novel semi-synthetic systems. Long term goals include: (i) to mimic the natural stacked membrane systems to provide a controlled platform for understanding the assembly and biophysical properties of the membrane protein/lipids, (ii) to design new 3-D patterns of membranes onto solid surfaces with preservation of biological functionality, (iii) to build new bio/hybrid photonic devices. These controlled model membranes will act as a platform to test the factors influencing self-assembly, organisation and function in biological membranes, over multiple scales.

Various techniques are used to fully characterize the proteins, membranes and new devices from the micro- to the nanoscale. These include atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy fluorescence microscopy, spectroscopy, DLS, QCM, etc. We are always looking towards the latest, state-of-the-art technologies to enable the next breakthrough. Success in these efforts will represent a major advance in the controlled design of 3-D complex, functional biomaterials.

Useful links

Adams group @Astbury Centre
Adams group @personal webpage


Adams PG, Vasilev C, Hunter CN, Johnson MP Light-Harvesting Complex II in Controlled Architectures: Visualizing Changes in Fluorescence Lifetimes, 2017

VanDelinder V, Adams PG, Bachand GD Mechanical splitting of microtubules into protofilament bundles by surface-bound kinesin-1 Scientific Reports 6 -, 2016
View abstract

Chenchiliyan M, Timpmann K, Jalviste E, Adams PG, Hunter CN, Freiberg A Dimerization of core complexes as an efficient strategy for energy trapping in Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics 1857 634-642, 2016
View abstract

Adams PG, Cvetelin C, Collins AM, Montaño GA, Hunter CN, Johnson MP Redesigning Photosynthetic Membranes: Development of Bio-Inspired Photonic Nanomaterials, 2016

Adams PG, Swingle KL, Paxton WF, Nogan JJ, Stromberg LR, Firestone MA, Mukundan H, Montaño GA Exploiting lipopolysaccharide-induced deformation of lipid bilayers to modify membrane composition and generate two-dimensional geometric membrane array patterns Scientific Reports 5 -, 2015
View abstract

Adams PG, Collins AM, Sahin T, Subramanian V, Urban VS, Vairaprakash P, Tian Y, Evans DG, Shreve AP, Montano GA Diblock Copolymer Micelles and Supported Films with Noncovalently Incorporated Chromophores: A Modular Platform for Efficient Energy Transfer NANO LETTERS 15 2422-2428, 2015

Lamoureux L, Adams P, Banisadr A, Stromberg Z, Graves S, Montano G, Moxley R, Mukundan H An optical biosensor for detection of pathogen biomarkers from Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in ground beef samples, 2015

Swingle KL, Adams PG, Montano GA Using Lipopolysaccharides to Create 3-D Multicomponent Biomimetic Membranes on Solid Supports Biophysical Journal 108 32a-32a, 2015

Olsen JD, Adams PG, Jackson PJ, Dickman MJ, Qian P, Hunter CN Aberrant Assembly Complexes of the Reaction Center Light-harvesting 1 PufX (RC-LH1-PufX) Core Complex of Rhodobacter sphaeroides Imaged by Atomic Force Microscopy JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 289 29927-29936, 2014

Adams PG, Lamoureux L, Swingle KL, Mukundan H, Montano GA Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Dynamic Lipid Membrane Reorganization: Tubules, Perforations, and Stacks BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 106 2395-2407, 2014

Henderson IM, Adams PG, Montano GA, Paxton WF Ionic Effects on the Behavior of Thermoresponsive PEO-PNIPAAm Block Copolymers JOURNAL OF POLYMER SCIENCE PART B-POLYMER PHYSICS 52 507-516, 2014

Adams PG, Swingle K, Lamoureux L, Mukundan H, Montano GA Lipopolysaccharide Induced Dynamic Lipid Organizations: Lipid Tubules, Membrane Perforations and Multi-Lamellar Stacking, 2014

Adams PG, Cadby AJ, Robinson B, Tsukatani Y, Tank M, Wen J, Blankenship RE, Bryant DA, Hunter CN Comparison of the physical characteristics of chlorosomes from three different phyla of green phototrophic bacteria BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOENERGETICS 1827 1235-1244, 2013

Montano GA, Adams PG, Xiao X, Goodwin PM Scanning Probe Microscopy of Nanocomposite Membranes and Dynamic Organization ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS 23 2576-2591, 2013

Adams PG, Hunter CN Adaptation of intracytoplasmic membranes to altered light intensity in Rhodobacter sphaeroides BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOENERGETICS 1817 1616-1627, 2012

Adams PG, Mothersole DJ, Ng IW, Olsen JD, Hunter CN Monomeric RC-LH1 core complexes retard LH2 assembly and intracytoplasmic membrane formation in PufX-minus mutants of Rhodobacter sphaeroides BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOENERGETICS 1807 1044-1055, 2011

Ng IW, Adams PG, Mothersole DJ, Vasilev C, Martin EC, Lang HP, Tucker JD, Hunter CN Carotenoids are essential for normal levels of dimerisation of the RC-LH1-PufX core complex of Rhodobacter sphaeroides: Characterisation of R-26 as a crtB (phytoene synthase) mutant BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOENERGETICS 1807 1056-1063, 2011

Ratcliffe EC, Tunnicliffe RB, Ng IW, Adams PG, Qian P, Holden-Dye K, Jones MR, Williamson MP, Hunter CN Experimental evidence that the membrane-spanning helix of PufX adopts a bent conformation that facilitates dimerisation of the Rhodobacter sphaeroides RC-LH1 complex through N-terminal interactions BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOENERGETICS 1807 95-107, 2011

Tucker JD, Siebert CA, Escalante M, Adams PG, Olsen JD, Otto C, Stokes DL, Hunter CN Membrane invagination in Rhodobacter sphaeroides is initiated at curved regions of the cytoplasmic membrane, then forms both budded and fully detached spherical vesicles MOLECULAR MICROBIOLOGY 76 833-847, 2010