Professor Ben Hankamer

Professorial Research Fellow

Institute for Molecular Bioscience

Affiliated Professor

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
b.hankamer@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 62012

Overview

Our group is focused on developing a broad based platform for the structure determination of membrane proteins and macromolecular assemblies, based upon single particle analysis, electron and X-ray crystallography.

Professor Ben Hankamer is the group leader for Membrane Protein Structures research at the IMB.

A strong research focus of his group is on automation to increase the rate of protein structure determination. A selection of proteins involved in a range of important biological processes and biotechnology applications (eg. Biohydrogen) are currently being investigated as part of the IMB's Visual Cell program.

Research Interests

  • Biofuels - Microalgae
  • Lab to Pilot Scale Transition
  • Molecular Biology - Optimising Production
  • Photosynthesis
  • Economic Modelling
  • Electron Crystallography
  • Single Particle Analysis
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Structural Biology
  • Single Particle analysis: Single particle analysis (SPA), when coupled with electron cryo-microscopy, is ideally suited for the structure determination of large membrane proteins and macromolecular assemblies.In essence, SPA is the process of determining 3D reconstructions of macromolecules from their constituent 2D projection images captured by electron cryo-microscopy. Images of randomly oriented particles supported in a thin layer of vitreous ice are aligned and classified according to their orientation. The class averages are then merged to produce 3D reconstructions.
  • Electron Crystallography: Electron crystallography requires the use of 2D crystals. These are particularly well suited for membrane protein structure determination as the crystallized proteins are arrayed within a near native lipid bilayer. The 2D crystals are imaged over a range of tilt angles and the processed images merged to facilitate 3D image reconstruction. New processes of monolayer and bilayer crystallogenesis methods are being developed to facilitate template mediated crystal production.
  • Cubic Phase crystallization: The use of cubic phase lipids for the purpose of membrane protein crystallization is also being explored. Cubic phase lipid structures are highly ordered, contorted bilayers, which are continuous and organized in 3D space. Membrane proteins can be inserted into these cubic phase lipid matrices and induced to form highly ordered three-dimensional crystals well suited for high resolution X-ray crystallographic analysis. The method can be thought of as a hybrid between 2D bilayer and 3D crystal production.
  • Biology and Biotechnology
    Bio-Hydrogen The development of a clean, sustainable and economically viable energy supply for the future is one of the most urgent challenges of our generation, given that oil production is estimated to peak in 5-33 years time. There is now a concerted international effort [1] to switch from a fossil fuel to a hydrogen economy. We are exploring the use of a green algal system that uses solar energy to split water (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), for large scale H2 production. Subsequent combustion of H2 yields only H2O eliminating both net H2O use and the production of harmful greenhouse gases, associated with the burning of fossil fuels. The identification of marine algae capable of producing H2 has the added benefit that H2 production could be coupled with H2O purification, as the product of H2 combustion is pure H2O. 1. Abraham, S. National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap. 2002: United States Department of Energy.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of London
  • MSc, University of London
  • BSc(Hons), University of Liverpool

Publications

View all Publications

Grants

View all Grants

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Stephens, Evan, Wolf, Juliane, Oey, Melanie, Zhang, Eugene, Hankamer, Ben and Ross, Ian L. (2015). Genetic engineering for microalgae strain improvement in relation to biocrude production systems. In Navid R. Moheimani, Mark P. McHenry, Karne de Boer and Parisa A. Bahri (Ed.), Biomass and biofuels from microalgae: advances in engineering and biology (pp. 191-249) Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-16640-7_11

  • Stephens, Evan, Wagner, Liam, Ross, Ian and Hankamer, Ben (2012). Microalgal production systems: global impact of industry scale-up. In Clemens Posten and Christian Walter (Ed.), Microalgal biotechnology: integration and economy (pp. 267-306) Berlin, Germany: Walter De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110298321.1

  • Hankamer, Ben, Barber, James and Nield, Jon (2005). Structural analysis of the photosystem II core/antenna holocomplex by electron microscopy. In Thomas J. Wydrzynski and Kimiyuki Satoh (Ed.), Photosystem II : The light-driven water : Plastoquinone oxidoreductase (pp. 403-424) Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

  • Sennoga, C., Hankamer, B., Heron, A., Seddon, J. M., Barber, J. and Templer, R. H. (2002). Morphological aspects of in cubo membrane protein crystallisation. In Richard H. Templer and Robin Leatherbarrow (Ed.), Biophysical Chemistry: Membranes and Proteins (pp. 221-236) Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry. doi:10.1039/9781847550255-00221

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Foo, Alexander F. -W., Landsberg, Michael J., Battle, Andrew R., Marsh, Brad J., Hankamer, Ben and Martinac, Boris (2011). Mscl Channels as Nanovales for the Controlled Release of Liposome-Encapsulated Compounds. In: Abstracts - 55th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical-Society. 55th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, Baltimore, MD United States, (277-278). 5 - 9 March 2011.

  • Schenk, P.M.P., Thomas-Hall, S.R., Nguyen, A.V., Malnoe, A., Timmins, M., Stephens, E., Mussgnug, J.H., Rupprecht, J., Kruse, O. and Hankamer, B. (2008). Transcriptional profiling of photosynthetic genes during photo-biological hydrogen production in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. In: WHEC2008. 17th World Hydrogen Energy Conference, Brisbane, Qld, Australia, (108-111). 15-19 June, 2008.

  • Hankamer, B., Schenk, P., Marx, U., Posten, C. and Kruse, O. (2007). The Solar Bio-fuels consortium: Developing advanced bio-fuel production systems. In: Photosynthesis Research: Abstracts: 14th International Congress of Photosynthesis. 14th International Congress of Photosynthesis, Glasgow, Scotland, (136-136). 22-27 July 2007. doi:10.1007/s11120-007-9197-6

  • Banks, J. E., Pailthorpe, B., Rothnagel, A.R. and Hankamer, B. (2005). Automatic particle picking algorithms for high resolution single particle analysis. In: Brian C Lovell and anthony J Maeder, Proceedings of WDIC2005 APRS Workshop on Digital image computing. Aust Pattern Recognition Society Workshop on Digital Image Computing, Griffith Universty, South Bank Campus, (127-132). 21 February 2005.

  • Banks, J. E., Rothnagel, A.R. and Hankamer, B. (2003). Automatic particle picking of biological molecules imaged by electron microscopy. In: Bailey and donald G, Image and Vision Computing New Zealand (IVCNZ). Image and Vision Computing New Zealand 2003, Massey University, Palmerston North, NZ, (269-274). 26-28 November 2003.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

Completed Supervision