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Professor Elizabeth Wellington



Phone: 024 765 23184

Office: D033

Twitter: @ElizabethWelli1ns in a new windowother social media handles

Wellington webpage

Research Clusters

Microbiology & Infectious Disease

Environment & Ecology

Warwick Centres and GRPs



Vacancies and Opportunities

For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Research Interests

Professor Wellington has established an international reputation for the study of microbiomes in the environment and her work on soil, plant and riverine microbiomes is well known but in addition she has been recognized for her efforts to promote this area of research by disseminating methods to establish environmental microbiome research, running workshops and networks. Further to these efforts she is Co-Editor in Chief of the prestigious journal Microbiome and assisted in setting up two sister journals Environmental Microbiome and Animal Microbiome. As part of the work on microbiomes and microbial environmental assemblages, effort was placed on improving methods for metaomic studies of solid and liquid substrates including soils and sediments. In particular the Wellington lab pioneered metaexoproteomics for the study of the exoproteome in soil.

The focus is on understanding activity of bacterial communities in situ, interactions with plants and the survival, activity and interaction of human, animal and plant pathogens with indigenous bacteria and the respective microbiomes. The past decade has involved the development of metagenomic approaches for the study of soil and water microbial diversity. Advances in the extraction of extracellular proteins from soil, have resulted in the extraction of both metaproteome and extracellular proteins in the metaexoproteome. Current work is focused on studying bacterial pathogen activity in situ using metaomics approaches.

Research: Technical Summary

The environment is a critical compartment involved in transmission dynamics of human and animal pathogens and Professor Elizabeth Wellington has pioneered the study of how pathogens survive and become disseminated in the environment. Her research led to the development of a faecal test to determine infection status of badger social groups for the carriage of bovine TB using a specially adapted specific faecal PCR test for Mycobacterium bovis. This approach was applied to environmental samples of soil, water, herbage, feed, faeces and slurry in the farm environment, proving for the first time that live M. bovis was present in water troughs and other samples from farms.

Monitoring pathogens in human and animal waste is a useful non-invasive approach for studying population disease dynamics and Prof Wellington and her research group provided the first evidence that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was being disseminated via environmental pathways. They provided evidence that wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) made a significant contribution to AMR in UK rivers and that many human pathogens with multiple resistance genes could be detected directly downstream of WWTPs. These pathogens were viable and evidence was also found of significant ingress of the resistance genes into populations of indigenous bacteria in the river.

The environment provides pathogens with opportunities to mix and interact with many different microbial populations. This mixing of human, animal and environmental microbiomes is a critical point in the evolution of new diseases. Current research in the Wellington group using long and short read sequencing of environmental samples is providing direct sequence analysis of new and emerging combinations of virulence and resistance genes. Her research is revealing how new combinations of virulence and resistance genes emerge in specific locations due to gene mobilization mechanisms. This new understanding of how new gene combinations evolve is informing the critical work of policy makers in environmental health protection as they develop ways to mitigate dissemination of these new threats.


For a full list of publications, see WRAP

  • 1999-to date Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick
  • 2014- 2020 Director Warwick Environmental Systems Interdisciplinary Centre
  • 2010-2017 Director of Environment Research Theme, School of Life Sciences
  • 2005-2007 Co-director Warwick Systems Biology Centre
  • 1996 Reader, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick
  • 1991 Senior Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick
  • 1987 Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick.
  • 1984 Senior Lecturer, Department of Biology, Liverpool Polytechnic.
  • 1980 Lecturer, Department of Biology, Liverpool Polytechnic.
  • 1979 Senior Demonstrator, Department of Botany, University of Liverpool.

Extensive transnational research as coordinator of 5 EU projects and PI on a SysMO grant focused on studying metabolic switches involved in antibiotic production. Major role as PI in Defra funded work to develop molecular methods for direct detection of Mycobacterium bovis in soil and faeces. Leader of a metagenomics network, ComMet, sponsored by BBSRC and metaproteomics network ComProt (NERC) focused on developing metaomics approaches. Previously a member of the MRC AMR Steering Group and has advised Defra on AMR and pathogen ecology.


Honorary duties: Grant reviewing and advisory panels

• Royal Society grant review panel

• NERC Science Advisory Committee for Environment and Human Health Programme

• NERC and BBSRC grant review panels

• BBSRC review panels special topics eg Microbiome

• Microbiology Society various committees Microbiome Policy Report

• Co-Editor-in-Chief Microbiome journal current from 2015

• Editorial board Journal of Antibiotics since 1998