My research interest has focussed on environmental molecular microbiology involving the bacterial metabolism of one carbon compounds, bacterial dehalogenation of chlorinated compounds, bacterial genomics, metagenomics, bioremediation and microbial biotechnology.
During my PhD in the lab of Professor Stéphane Vuilleumier at the Université de Strasbourg, I developed effective bacterial bioindicators and bioreporters to answer ecological questions of bacterial adaptations and responses to environmental stresses. While addressing the bacterial dehalogenative metabolism of chlorinated methanes in a highly important but previously unexplored environment, the plant phyllosphere, I developed the first ever bacterial biosensor to detect chloromethane emissions from plants and soils to overcome the bottleneck of sensitive measurements of chloromethane. Overall this project provided an innovative contribution towards the investigation of the bacterial sink for plant emissions of chloromethane, an atmospheric trace gas responsible for substantial depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer
After completing my PhD, I joined the lab of Professor Jeremy Semrau at the University of Michigan as a postdoctoral research fellow. There I studied the physiology of methanotrophs in order to understand regulatory mechanisms by which methanotrophs sense changes to their environment and the mechanisms they use to survive under those conditions, including uptake mechanisms and impact of various metals on methanotrophic activity and gene expression. During this period, I showed for the first time the lanthanide based metal switch between different forms of methanol dehydrogenases in methanotrophs.
Currently my research in the lab of Professor Colin Murrell is focussed on the exciting and recent area of facultative methanotrophy. Recently discovered and unique methane oxidising bugs like Methyocella, can not only utilise methane but also other multi-carbon compounds including acetate, pyruvate and succinate. I will be exploring the metabolic flexibility of these facultative methanotrophs at genetic and biomolecular levels. I will also test that facultative methanotrophs are prevalent in environments and that they play an important role in the biogeochemical cycling of the major components of natural gas like methane, propane and ethane etc.