Paul Reese

Professor of Bio-Organic Chemistry
B.Sc. (Hons), U.W.I.; D.Phil., Sussex, C.Chem., FRSC.

Research Interests

1. Natural Products. Medicinal plants (mainly from the family Lamiaceae, Scrophulariaceae and Capparaceae families) and fungi (from marine and terrestrial environments) are being examined in order to isolate and characterise their major natural products. Identification of metabolites with biological activity is an integral part of this project.

2. Microbial transformations. Natural products of agricultural and pharmaceutical interest are structurally modified using selected strains of fungi in an effort to produce a range of new analogues with enhanced bioactivity.

3. Steroids. Partial synthesis of steroid hormones is studied with the aim of identifying cheaper routes to the production of these costly biochemicals.


The aim of Prof. Paul Reese's research group is the discovery of new, natural products, mainly from local plants, but also from fungi. Many of the compounds isolated have potential as pharmaceuticals (to treat various diseases), while others show promise as prospective agrochemicals – acting against insects and other pests.


Their research methods involve the collection of plant or fungal material and the extraction of their important components. The individual compounds of the mixture are separated by chromatography, followed by the application of various spectroscopic techniques to identify them. Members of the terpenoid family of compounds are the main interest. Several bio-assays are then used to uncover the biological activity of the compounds (such as anti-cancer, cytotoxic or insecticidal activity).


Another exciting aspect of the group's investigations concentrate on taking what nature has provided and improving on it. This involves the conversion of isolated natural products to new, more biologically interesting compounds. Traditional methods of synthesis, utilising chemical reagents, are routinely applied. Alternatively, the use of fungal organisms to convert known bioactive compounds to completely new analogues is another specific focus area of research. This field is known as bio-catalysis or biotransformation. The group's approach is largely exploratory and is geared towards showing that new analogues with enhanced activity can be made more efficiently from existing natural products.


Another research interest involves the synthesis of unusual and more valuable steroids from cheaper, readily available analogues. During the course of these studies, the mechanisms of some organic reactions are elucidated.


Exciting opportunities are afforded by the isolation and generation of new compounds and the research has been progressing fruitfully. Currently, the group is improving the yield of products from their bio-catalysis experiments and working on the efficiency of the conversions by using immobilised microorganisms.


The Reese Group has published approximately 55 refereed research journal articles.


Selected publications

  • Biotransformation of Cadinane Sesquiterpenes by Beauveria bassiana ATCC 7159. G.O. Buchanan, L.A.D. Williams and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2000, 54, 39-45.
  • Assignment of 1H and 13C Spectra and Investigation of Hindered Side Chain Rotation in Lupeol Derivatives. D. Burns, W.F. Reynolds, G. Buchanan, P.B. Reese and R.G. Enriquez, Magn. Reson. Chem., 2000, 38, 488-493.
  • New Skeletal Sesquiterpenoids, Caprariolides A - D, from Capraria biflora and their insecticidal activity. D.O. Collins, W.A. Gallimore, W.F. Reynolds, L.A.D. Williams and P.B. Reese, J. Nat. Prod., 2000, 63, 1515-1518.
  • Remote Functionalization Reactions in Steroids. P.B. Reese, Steroids, 2001, 66, 481-497.
  • Biotransformation of Squamulosone by Curvularia lunata ATCC 12017. D.O. Collins, G.O. Buchanan, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2001, 57, 377-383.
  • Microbial Transformation of Cadina-4,10(15)-dien-3-one, Aromadendr-1(10)-en-9-one and Methyl Ursolate by Mucor plumbeus ATCC 4740. D.O. Collins, P.L.D. Ruddock, J. Chiverton de Grasse, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2002, 59, 479-488.
  • New Cembranes from Cleome spinosa. D.O. Collins, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, J. Nat. Prod., 2004, 67, 179-183.
  • The reactions of palladium(II), thallium(III) and lead(IV) trifluoroacetates with 3b-acetoxyandrost-5-en-17-one; crystal structure of the first trifluoroacetate bridged 5,6,7-p-allyl steroid palladium dimer. P.L.D. Ruddock, D.J. Williams and P.B. Reese, Steroids, 2004, 69, 193-199.
  • Investigation of the importance of the C-2 and C-13 oxygen functions in the transformation of stemodin analogues by Rhizopus oryzae ATCC 11145. G.D.A. Martin, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2004, 65, 2211-2217.
  • Stemodane and stemarane diterpenoid hydroxylation by Mucor plumbeus and Whetzelinia sclerotiorum. A.R.M. Chen, P.L.D. Ruddock, A.S. Lamm, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2005, 66, 1898-1902.
  • Bioconversion of Stemodia maritima diterpenes and derivatives by Cunninghamella echinulata var. elegans and Phanerochaete chrysosporium. A.S. Lamm, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2006, 67, 1088-1093.
  • Steroid hydroxylation by Whetzelinia sclerotiorum, Phanerochaete chrysosporium and Mucor plumbeus. A.S. Lamm, A.R.M. Chen, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Steroids, 2007, 72, 713-722.
  • A predictive cytochrome P450 monooxygenase functional model for generic hydroxylation by Rhizopus oryzae ATCC 11145. G.D.A. Martin, M.C. Durrant and P.B. Reese, Journal of Theoretical & Computational Chemistry, 2008, 7, 421-433.
  • Fungal hydroxylation of (-)-Santonin and its analogues. A.S. Lamm, A.R.M. Chen, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, J. Mol. Catal. B: Enzym., 2009, 59, 292–296.
  • Phytochemical Analysis of Salvia coccinea from Jamaican Populations. G.D.A. Martin, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Natural Product Communications, 2009, 4, 789-790.
  • Novel stemodin-derived analogues with lipid peroxidation, cyclooxygenase enzymes and human tumour cell proliferation inhibitory activities. F.A. Russell, V. Mulabagal, D.R. Thompson, M.A. Singh-Wilmot, W.F. Reynolds, M.G. Nair, V. Langer and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2011, 72, 2361–2368.
  • Entrapment of mycelial fragments in calcium alginate: A general technique for the use of immobilized filamentous fungi in biocatalysis. P.C. Peart, A.R.M. Chen, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Steroids, 2012, 77, 85–90.
  • The potential of Cyathus africanus for transformation of terpene substrates. K.P. McCook, A.R.M. Chen, W.F. Reynolds and P.B. Reese, Phytochemistry, 2012, 82, 61–66. Read More