Microbes play important roles in human and animal health. Especially the microbes in guts are of crucial importance. We are interested in how these microbes, that live in the absence of oxygen, affect human and animal health. Research includes important human and animal pathogens but also focusses on microbes and nutrition and their role in food security.
Adaptation of microbial eukaryotes to low oxygen or complete lack of oxygen featured in several high impact publications (Nature (2003) 426, 172-176, Current Biology (2008) 18, 580-585, Current Biology (2014) 24, 1176-1186 and PLoS Biology (2017) 15(9) e2003769) and included major human pathogens such as Giardia intestinalis, Entamoeba histolytica and Blastocystis. We hope that understanding their unusual biochemistry might lead to new drug targets.
Food security research focusses at biochemistry and genomics of several important pathogens such as Aphanomyces and Fasciola hepatica. Aphanomyces causes two notifyable diseases: crayfish plague and epizootic ulcerative syndrome in fish while Fasciola causes liverfluke in cattle and sheep.
Understanding how environmental microbes affect food productivity and human health is studied using environmental genomics and next generation sequencing.
A recent new research direction involves the use of algae to regenerate mine waste, this is an extension of our involvement in the genome of Emiliania huxleyi (Nature (2013) 499, 209-213). This work is part of the GW4+ AVaRICE project.
Our lab uses a variety of techniques to answer our research questions. Molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and next-generation sequencing methods are routinely used.