My research focuses on the mobilisation of phosphorus in the rhizosphere of the crop, Oil Seed Rape (Brassica napus). A significant challenge facing agriculture over the next few decades is the need to increase the crop productivity of cultivated land to sustain food rations for an increasing global population whilst reducing the environmentally harmful consequences of mineral fertilization.Specifically, phosphorus is essential to all cells and often becomes growth limiting in soil and is therefore often applied in fertilizers with deleterious environment effects. The aim is to identify key bacterial genes and enzymes in the soil that are involved in recycling complex forms of phosphorus with the premise that these enzymes help to increase the amount of ‘available’ phosphorus required for plant growth. In order to achieve this, we will be constructing metagenomic libraries as a reference to determine the metaproteome and metaexoproteome of the rhizosphere in response to Pi stress. We have used individual bacterial strains to generate reference proteomic data and utilised classical bacterial genetics to confirm the function of highly secreted proteins with respect to phosphorus depletion.
I completed my PhD at the University of Warwick, which focused on the microbial metabolism of methylated amines. During my project I combined comparative genomics with microbial physiology and molecular genetics to identify key genes and enzymes involved in the metabolism of methylated amines. I also screened marine metagenomes and selected genomes from marine isolates in order to determine the abundance of the catabolic genes I identified to gain a better understanding of their distribution in the marine environment. I have also published some work on the effects of ocean acidification on microbial biofilm communities. I completed my first degree and research masters at the University of Plymouth in conjunction with the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. During my studies I developed a keen interest in marine microbiology, which led to me undertaking a PhD. My primary interest is in microbial physiology and how microorganisms interact with their environment.