I am a molecular microbiologist who is interested in how a broad range of microbes, both Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic, participate in biogeochemical cycling. My research group focuses on the specific mechanisms that allow such organisms to synthesise and breakdown key biological molecules and importantly regulate these processes as to allow them to sense and respond to environmental cues.
Current Research Projects:
- Identification and characterisation of the ways in which microbes breakdown the anti-stress molecule dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) that is made by many marine phytoplankton, macroalgae and a few angiosperms. This microbial DMSP catabolism is central to the global sulphur cycle, can affect both the local and global climate and is an important signaling cue to many higher organisms. (With Prof. AWB Johnston, funded by NERC and BBSRC
- How and why do Eukaryotic Algae make DMSP? As well as studying the catabolism of DMSP we are also identifying the ways in which algae make the most abundant sulphurous molecule in the oceans and importantly why do they do so. Surprisingly the exact function of DMSP remains unclear. (With Dr Thomas Mock, funded by NERC)
- Studies of mechanisms involved in metal transport and metal responsive gene regulation in Rhizobium and marine proteobacteria. (With Prof. AWB Johnston, funded by BBSRC)
- Analysis of Carbon Monoxide Dehydrogenase enzymes in marine roeobacters that serve to detoxify this respiratory inhibitor. (With Dr Michael Cunliffe at the Marine Biological Association)
- A study into denitrification in marine roseobacters. We are interested in the expression, regulation and enzymology of a suit of denitrification genes that exist in these microaerobic organisms. (with Dr Andrew Gates)