Department of MBS

Phone: (512) 471-5105
Fax: (512) 471-1218

NHB 2.606, Stop A5000
100 East 24th St.
Austin TX 78712


R. Malcolm Brown Jr.

Professor Emeritus
Molecular Biosciences

Johnson & Johnson Centennial Chair Emeritus in Plant Cell Biology

Phone: 512-471-3364

Office Location
NMS 3.316

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Molecular Biosciences, College of Natural Sciences
2506 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712

Research Summary:

Cellulose is the most abundant macromolecule on earth, yet details about its biosynthesis and structure remain unclear. We are using broad, interdisciplinary advances and tools to study cellulose and its biosynthesis. We employ many different model systems, including Arabidopsis, Sativa, Gossypium, bacteria, algae, and cyanobacteria.

Our approaches involve gene cloning and sequencing, introduction of altered genes, gene expression in plants and bacteria, enzyme isolation and characterization, phylogenetic analysis, bioinformatics, x-ray and electron diffraction analysis, high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), and various types of light microscopy. We use immunolocalization approaches at the light and TEM levels. We are investigating the molecular structure of enzymes, structural proteins, carbon nanotubes, and cellulose using high resolution transmission electron microscopy (at 0.2 nm resolution).

We have invented a new form of electronic paper made from microbial cellulose which will replace present cellulose-based products for printing (books and newspapers) visit: We are investigating the use of a transmission electron microscope for manipulation of single polymer chains to form new products for nanotechnology.


2007 Czaja WK, Young DJ, Kawecki M, Brown RM Jr., The future prospects of microbial cellulose in biomedical applications, Biomacromolecules 8: 1-12

2007 Brown RM Jr, Barnes Z, Sawatari C, Kondo T., Polymer manipulation and nanofabrication in real time using transmission electron microscopy, Biomacromolecules 8: 70-76

2006 Czaja W, Krystynowicz A, Bielecki S, Brown RM Jr., Microbial cellulose--the natural power to heal wounds, Biomaterials 27: 145-151

2005 Saxena IM, Brown RM Jr., Cellulose biosynthesis: current views and evolving concepts, Ann Bot (Lond) 96: 9-21

2001 Song, C. Laosinchai, W., Amano, Y. and R.M. Brown, Jr. , A putative plant homolog of the yeast B-1,3-glucan synthase subunit FKS1 from cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fibers, Planta 213: 223-230

2001 Saxena, I.M., Brown, Jr. R.M., and T. Dandekar., Structure-function characterization of cellulose synthase: relationship to other glycosyltransferases., Phytochemistry 57: 1135-1148.

2001 Mitchell, Daniel R., Brown Jr., R. Malcolm, Spires, Tara L., Romanovicz, Dwight K., and Richard J. Lagow, The Synthesis of Megatubes: New Dimensions in Carbon Materials., Inorganic Chemistry. 40(12): 2751-2755.