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Martin Sergeant

Job Title
Research Fellow
WMS - Microbiology and Infection
+44(0)24 76573299
Web Link
Research Interests

Key interest areas: Using 16S to study microbial diversity; software design to analyse Next Generation Sequencing data; Metagenomics; Identification and isolation of novel bacteria.

I am currently working on the Chicken Microbiome Project ( mainly using 16S to study the bacterial population structure in the chicken gut. Initial work involved using Roche 454 sequencing of 16S amplicons but we have now developed methods using the Illumina MiSeq whereby over 400 bases of high quality sequence can be obtained at a fraction of the cost of 454. In addition an in depth metagenomic approach produced insights into the metabolism of the microbiome and the reconstruction of the genomes of many novel bacteria. As well as these virtual bacteria, several novel species with interesting properties have also been isolated. I am also interested in the analysis of Next Generation Sequencing data and have developed user friendly software for this purpose. This has been used to identify differences between WT and revertants of non motile mutants in Campylobacter, as well as characterising two strains of Mycobacterium in the lung of a 200 year old mummy.


I obtained my PhD from Liverpool University in 1998 where I studied the Shiga toxin phage. During this time I discovered the Shiga toxin phage receptor and the fact such phages could co-lysogenize the same cell. From 1998, I worked at Horticulture Research International (HRI), which became part of Warwick University in 2004. Initially I studied insect toxins produced by Xenorhabdus spp., as well as comparing population structure of this species. I was also involved in analyzing the commercial mushroom Agaricus bisporus and its interaction with the mushroom pathogen Verticillium. I was a post-doc on a successful chemical genetics project in which compounds were analyzed for their ability to inhibit carotenoid cleavage enzymes with the view of using them to dissect the role of these enzymes in vivo. During my time at HRI, I developed an interest in computing and obtained qualifications in the JAVA programming language which enabled me to branch out into bioinformatics. More recently I worked with Illumina NGS data on a project to identify SNPs in four cultivars of Brassicae oleracae. This was to enable the fine mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in mapping populations and introgression lines. In addition, I identified SNPs in late flowering lettuce mutants and identified the introgression region responsible for a bushy root phenotype in tomatoes. I also analysed miRNA in dormant seed. I left HRI in 2010 to move to Birmingham University to study the chicken microbiome and moved to Warwick Medical School to finish this project.

Title Funder Award start Award end
BBSRC / Achten / EnteroBase: A Powerful, User-Friendly Online Resource for Analyzing and Visualizing Genomic Variation within Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica BBSRC 01 Apr 2014 15 Oct 2019