Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy

Staff Profile

Dr Melissa Brazier-Hicks

Senior Research Associate/Lab Manager


I am a Senior Research Associate in the Crop Protection Group headed by Professor Robert Edwards. I graduated with an honours degree in Biochemistry from Cardiff University, then obtained a PhD, in Plant Biochemistry, from Durham University, UK. I have held Post-doctoral research positions at Durham University and the University of York, which have enabled me to pursue my interests in plant secondary metabolism and in particular, how plants respond to and detoxify xenobiotic compounds such as herbicides. My current project at Newcastle University involves investigating the basis of herbicide selectivity in crops and competing weeds.

Roles and responsibilities

Lab manager for the Crop Protection Group headed by Professor Robert Edwards


Current project

Herbicide selectivity in cereals and competing weeds

Selective herbicides enable the control of weeds without causing damage to the associated crop.  Cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs) are responsible for determining the metabolism and hence selectivity of many of the world’s most important herbicides. CYPs belong to a large gene family and little is known about which are the key CYPs involved in the metabolism of herbicides.  In a collaboration with Syngenta, the aim is to initiate an assay and expression platform capability around CYPs from crops and competing weeds, leading to insights into their role in herbicide selectivity and resistance.


  • Brazier-Hicks M, Gershater M, Dixon D, Edwards R. Substrate specificity and safener-inducibility of the plant UDP-glucose dependent family 1 glycosyltransferases super-family. Plant Biotechnology Journal 2018, 16(1), 337-348.
  • Brazier-Hicks M, Knight KM, Sellars JD, Steel PG, Edwards R. Testing a chemical series inspired by plant stress oxylipin signalling agents for herbicide safening activity. Pest Management Science 2018, 74(4), 828-836.
  • Brazier-Hicks Melissa, Edwards Robert. Metabolic engineering of the flavone-C-glycoside pathway using polyprotein technology. Metabolic Engineering 2013, 16, 11-20.
  • Taylor VL, Cummins I, Brazier-Hicks M, Edwards R. Protective responses induced by herbicide safeners in wheat. Environmental and Experimental Botany 2013, 88, 93-99.
  • Hamilton ML, Kuate SP, Brazier-Hicks M, Caulfield JC, Rose R, Edwards R, Torto B, Pickett JA, Hooper AM. Elucidation of the biosynthesis of the di-C-glycosylflavone isoschaftoside, an allelopathic component from Desmodium spp. that inhibits Striga spp. development. PHYTOCHEMISTRY 2012, 84, 169-176.
  • Skipsey M, Knight KM, Brazier-Hicks M, Dixon DP, Steel PG, Edwards R. Xenobiotic Responsiveness of Arabidopsis thaliana to a Chemical Series Derived from a Herbicide Safener. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 2011, 286, 32268-32276.
  • Liu JL, Brazier-Hicks M, Edwards R. A kinetic model for the metabolism of the herbicide safener fenclorim in Arabidopsis thaliana. BIOPHYSICAL CHEMISTRY 2009, 143, 85-94.
  • Brazier-Hicks M, Evans KM, Gershater MC, Puschmann H, Steel PG, Edwards R. The C-Glycosylation of Flavonoids in Cereals. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 2009, 284, 17926-17934.
  • Brazier-Hicks M, Evans KM, Cunningham OD, Hodgson DRW, Steel PG, Edwards R. Catabolism of glutathione conjugates in Arabidopsis thaliana - Role in metabolic reactivation of the herbicide safener fenclorim. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 2008, 283, 21102-21112.
  • Brazier-Hicks M, Offen WA, Gershater MC, Revett TJ, Lim EK, Bowles DJ, Davies GJ, Edwards R. Characterization and engineering of the bifunctional N- and O-glucosyltransferase involved in xenobiotic metabolism in plants. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 2007, 104, 20238-20243.
  • Brazier-Hicks M, Edwards LA, Edwards R. Selection of plants for roles in phytoremediation: the importance of glucosylation. PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY JOURNAL 2007, 5, 627-635.
  • Cummins I, Brazier-Hicks M, Stobiecki M, Franski R, Edwards R. Selective disruption of wheat secondary metabolism by herbicide safeners. PHYTOCHEMISTRY 2006, 16, 1722-1730.
  • Brazier-Hicks M, Edwards R. Functional importance of the family 1 glucosyltransferase UGT72B1 in the metabolism of xenobiotics in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLANT JOURNAL 2005, 42, 556-566.
  • Yang M, Brazier M, Edwards R, Davis BG. High-throughput mass-spectroscopy monitoring for multisubstrate enzymes: Determining the kinetic parameters and catalytic activities of glycosyltransferases. CHEMBIOCHEM 2005, 6, 346-357. In Preparation.
  • Lao SH, Loutre C, Brazier M, Coleman JOD, Cole DJ, Edwards R, Theodoulou FL. 3,4-dichloroaniline is detoxified and exported via different pathways in Arabidopsis and soybean. PHYTOCHEMISTRY 2003, 63, 653-661.
  • Loutre C, Dixon DP, Brazier M, Slater M, Cole DJ, Edwards R. Isolation of a glucosyltransferase from Arabidopsis thaliana active in the metabolism of the persistent pollutant 3,4-dichloroaniline. PLANT JOURNAL 2003, 34, 485-493.
  • Brazier M, Cole DJ, Edwards R. Partial purification and characterisation of a 2,4,5-trichlorophenol detoxifying O-glucosyltransferase from wheat. PHYTOCHEMISTRY 2003, 64, 419-424.
  • Brown AP, Carnaby S, Brough C, Brazier M, Slabas AR. Limnanthes douglasii lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferases: immunological quantification, acyl selectivity and functional replacement of the Escherichia coli plsC gene. BIOCHEMICAL JOURNAL 2002, 364, 795-805.
  • Brazier M, Cole DJ, Edwards R. O-glucosyltransferase activities toward phenolic natural products and xenobiotics in wheat and herbicide-resistant and herbicide-susceptible black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides). PHYTOCHEMISTRY 2002, 59, 149-156.