Dr. Mort's laboratory emphasis is on structural biology of polysaccharides, especially plant cell wall polysaccharides. He is trying to determine enough about the structure of cell walls and their interactions with enzymes to be able to explain how plant cells can expand without bursting because of loss of structural integrity during cell wall enlargement. He is presently working on the detailed structure of various regions of pectins, how they are linked to each other, and how and if they are covalently linked to other cell wall polysaccharides such as xyloglucans. He is particularly interested in the application of NMR and mass spectrometry to the determination of the structure of oligosaccharides derived from polysaccharides by specific chemical or enzymic degradations. He also develops methods for separations of oligosaccharides. In the past he has developed various chemical methods for specifically degrading polysaccharides at particular sugars. Presently, with the help of Rolf Prade, he is trying to express individual fungal cell wall degrading enzymes in a yeast to enable us to specifically degrade cell walls.
Regents Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology