Phone: 024 765 73527
Warwick Centres and GRPs
Opportunities in the group
For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.
Crops and trees are attacked by bacterial pathogens, causing huge economic losses. Current control measures for many of these diseases are limited and relatively ineffective. As we are facing a global rise in antibiotic resistance in bacterial plant diseases, there is an urgent need to develop novel measures to control pathogens of important crops. One promising strategy is using naturally occurring bacteriophages for treating plant bacterial diseases. Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that, as opposed to antibiotics, only infect specific strains of bacteria, and in lab studies can significantly control bacterial populations.
In my lab we are developing phage therapy to treat bacterial diseases of trees and important crops. We also investigate the evolution of pathogenic bacteria and bacteriophages to understand the genetic mechanism of bacteriophage-bacteria interaction, and how bacteriophages can be utilised as an alternative to antibiotics to control bacterial diseases in plants.
Research: Technical Summary
There is a critical need to develop new pathogen control methods in crop production that do not require antibiotics. Research in my group is focused on the development of phage therapy to treat bacterial pathogens that are otherwise difficult to treat. We isolate bacteriophages from plant and soil environment and fully characterise them using genome sequencing, transmission electron microscopy and in vitro assays. The efficacy of phages to reduce the bacterial population are tested on the plant environment.
We perform detailed characterisation of phage-bacteria-plant interaction by genetic engineering and fluorescent labelling of phages and bacteria to fully monitor their movement within plant tissues by confocal microscopy.
We also investigate the genetic mechanism of phage-bacteria interaction by passaging and coevolutionary experiments in vitro and in planta. This is to develop strategies to prevent bacterial resistance emerging and to show the specific resistance mechanisms that are likely to emerge, informing resistance management and the development of tree and crop protection measures in the future
- 2023-present: Assistant Professor - host responses to microbes, University of Warwick
- 2023-present: Honorary Research Fellow, University of Birmingham
- 2022-2023: Group Leader, University of Birmingham
- 2020-2022: BBSRC Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Birmingham
- 2020-2021: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, University of Birmingham
- 2018-2020: Horizon 2020 Senior Post-Doctoral Associate, University of Reading
- 2016-2018: NERC Post-Doctoral Associate, University of Reading
- 2012-2015: PhD in biological control of plant diseases, University of Reading