+44 (0)1603 592959 (office) / +44 (0)1603 592239 (lab)

  • Overview of Research

    A central theme of research work carried out in the lab is the microbiology of major biogeochemical cycles. A longstanding interest has been the study of bacteria that grow on one-carbon (C1) compounds such as methane, methanol, methylated amines, methanesulfonate, dimethylsulfide and methyl halides. Activities range from the enrichment, isolation and characterisation of novel microorganisms from a wide variety of environments including soils, seawater, landfill, hot springs, methane seeps, caves, soda lakes, acidic peat bogs, the phylosphere and the rhizosphere, through to their characterisation at the physiological, biochemical and molecular level. A more recent project, funded through an ERC Advanced Grant involves the bacterial metabolism of isoprene. Isoprene is a climate-active trace gas, produced in huge amounts by trees and we are investigating the physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and ecology of isoprene degraders in the terrestrial environment and the phylosphere. Key enzymes, particularly oxygenases, are being purified, the genes encoding these enzymes cloned and the regulation of expression of key metabolic pathways is being examined. The ecology of these various groups of microorganisms is also being studied using DNA stable isotope probing, reporter gene fusions, Raman microspectroscopy, single cell genomics, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and metaproteomics techniques in order to establish their role in biogeochemical cycling of C1 compounds and atmospheric trace gases.