Charles Hocart

Charles Hocart, completed a BSc (Hon) degree (Chemistry, 1977) and an MSc (Clinical Biochemistry, 1979) at the University of Western Australia, where his long term interest in the use of mass spectrometry to solve biological problems was aroused. PhD studies with Professor Berthold Halpern (Wollongong) using GC/MS to look for markers of metabolic diseases were unfortunately curtailed by Halpern’s premature death. He then moved to Canberra to study the cytokinin family of plant hormones, supervised by Professor Stuart Letham (Australian National University, 1981-5). Two post-doctoral fellowships then followed with Professors Jim McCloskey (Utah, 1986-7) and Urs Schlunegger (Bern, 1988-9) identifying modified nucleotides from Archaebacteria, and studying the negative ion mass spectrometry of cytokinins, respectively, before he again worked with Letham, courtesy of a National Research Fellowship (ANU, 1989-93). A three year period as an analyst and evaluator at the Therapeutic Drug Administration then led to Hocart’s appointment managing the RSB Mass Spectrometry Facility (1996-2015). Charles is now retired but remains active as a Visiting Fellow at the ANU (Farquhar Group) and as a Professor at Shaanxi University of Science and Technology in Xi’an with ANU alumnus, Professor Zhou Youping in his Isotopomics in Chemical Biology Group.


Research interests

Application of organic analytical chemistry, with an emphasis on mass spectrometry (GC/MS, LC/MS and GC-irMS) to solve biological problems. This work entails developing separation/purification protocols for samples and the use of appropriate derivatives, as required for structural elucidation and quantification by mass spectrometry.

Research collaborations have included the archaeology of betel nut and kava in the Pacific islands (Dr Barry Fankhauser); the identification and quantification of cell wall polysaccharides in cellulose-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana mutants (Prof. Richard Williamson); the chemical signals regulating the interaction of rice with Rhizobium isolates from the Nile Delta (Prof. Barry Rolfe and Dr Francine Perrine-Walker); the generation of biodiesel from the native leguminous tree, Pongamia pinnata, and from microalgae (Prof. Peter Gresshoff, Prof Michael Djordjevic and Dr Gabriel James), the search for angiogenesis modulators from soybean (Prof. Michael Djordjevic, Prof. Chris Parish and Dr Farzaneh Kordbacheh) and the use of natural abundance isotopes to probe biochemical pathways (Prof. Zhou Youping).

Current work includes establishing appropriate analytical procedures (purification and derivatisation) for determining position specific 18O/16O isotope ratios of the cellulose monomer, glucose, with Professor Zhou Youping at the Shaanxi University of Science and Technology.

  • KJ Marsh, I Saraf, CH Hocart, K Youngentob, I-P Singh and WJ Foley.  Occurrence and distribution of unsubstituted B-ring flavanones in Eucalyptus species.  Phytochemistry (2019) 160, 31-39.
  • DS Letham, X-D Zhang and CH Hocart.  Photoaffinity labelling of cytokinin-binding proteins: the synthesis of 3H-labelled 8-azido-N6-benzyladenine and related compounds.  Molecules (2019) 24(2), 349-362,
  • AK Nanda, A El Habti, CH Hocart and J Masle.  ERECTA receptor-kinases play a key role in the appropriate timing of seed germination under changing salinity.  Journal of Experimental Botany (2019) 70(21) 6417-6435.
  • Y Zhou, BL Zhang’ H Stuart-Williams; K Grice, CH Hocart, A Gessler, Z Kayler, G Farquhar.  On the contributions of photorespiration and compartmentation to the contrasting intramolecular 2H profiles of C3 and C4 plant sugars. Phytochemistry (2018) 145, 197-206.
  • F Kordbacheh, CH Hocart, T Carruthers, J Buckler, A Bezos, C Parish, M Banwell, MA Djordjevic.  Promotion of mammalian angiogenesis by neolignans derived from soybean extracellular fluids.  PLoS ONE (2018) 13(5): e0196843.
  • L Zhu, KJ Bloomfield, CH Hocart, JJG Egerton, OS O’Sullivan, A Penillard, LK Weerasinghe, OK Atkin.  Plasticity of photosynthetic heat tolerance in plants adapted to thermally contrasting environments.  Plant Cell and Environment (2018) 41(6), 1254-1262.
  • R Ma, Z Zhu, B Wang, Y Zhao, X Yin, F Lu, Y Wang, J Su, CH Hocart, and Y Zhou.  Novel position-specific 18O/16O measurement of carbohydrates. I. O-3 of glucose and confirmation of 18O/16O heterogeneity at natural abundance levels in glucose from starch in a C4 plant.  Analytical Chemistry (2018) 90, 10293-10301.
  • GO James, CH Hocart, W Hillier, HC Chen, D Price, MA Djordjevic. Fatty acid profiling of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a model system for biofuel production. Bioresource Technology (2011) 102, 3343-3351.
  • CH Hocart. Mass spectrometry: an essential tool for trace identification and quantification. In: Vol 9, Modern Methods in Natural Product Chemistry (LN Mander, ed), Comprehensive Natural Products II: Chemistry and Biology (LN Mander and H-W Liu, editors-in-chief), Elsevier, Oxford, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-08-045382-8 (electronic), pp327-388.
  • Y Zhou, H Stuart-Williams, GD Farquhar, CH Hocart. The use of natural abundance stable isotopic ratios to indicate the presence of oxygen-containing chemical linkages between cellulose and lignin in plant cell walls. Phytochemistry (2010) 71, 982-993