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Exploring and Exploiting Microbial Diversity

This is a well-established and internationally recognised group, led by Associate Professor Amanda Jones, who undertake work in the following four key activity areas of activity:

 1) Biotechnology (*in collaboration with Applied Chemistry)

  • Microbial enzymes as biocatalysts (through our Nzomics Innovation Unit*)
  • Novel antimicrobials*
  • Microbial diagnostics*
  • Microbial induced calcite precipitation

 2) Ecology

  • Molecular ecology and the microbiome in human health
  • Food chains and agriculture
  • Environmental microbiology and extreme environments

 3) Pathogenicity

  • Control of parasitic arthropods
  • Virulence determinants in pathogenic streptococci & mycolic acid containing actinobacteria
  • Eukaryotic and prokaryotic virology

 4) Systematics

  • Systematics and taxonomy of bacteria
  • Genomics, metabolomics and proteomics of prokaryotes
  • Bacterial cell envelope architecture and biosynthesis

 The Exploring and Exploiting Microbial Diversity Research Group aims to contribute applied science approaches to underpinning aspects of healthcare and extending understanding of disease processes. We are funded by industry, charities, the European Union and research council grants.

We welcome interest from potential doctoral and post-doctoral researchers interested in working with us.


Our research is supported by biochemistry, molecular biology and -omics laboratories with extensive capacity for microbial cell culture.

Key resources include:

  • High throughput DNA sequencing platforms, including PacBIO (see NU-OMICS)
  • Proteomics facilities
  • Bioinformatics infrastructure
  • Pilot scale fermentation suite
  • Analytical chemistry

Professor Gary Black

  • Enzyme discovery, characterisation, development and microbial production for biocatalysis
  • Microbial proteomics and metabolomics


Dr Simon Bridge

  • Viral infections and lipid metabolism
  • Host responses to viral pathogens
  • Viral triggers of autoimmunity
  • Microbial community profiles in the gut in health and disease


Dr William Cheung

  • Proteomics
  • Metabolomics


Dr Lynn Dover

  • Microbial responses to metal ion as nutrients and antimicrobials
  • Cell envelope biology of Rhodococcus (Prescottella) equi and other mycolic acid containing Actinobacteria


Dr Edward Fox

  • Ecology and selection of foodborne bacterial pathogens through food chains and the study of their behaviour in food
  • Genomics of foodborne pathogens to understand virulence mechanisms, stress tolerance and antimicrobial resistance phenotypes
  • Development of novel biocontrol strategies targeting key foodborne pathogens by exploiting food chain microbiomes


Dr Amanda Jones

  • Prokaryotic systematics, particularly of the Actionobacteria
  • Medical diagnostics, notably for non-tuberculous mycobacteria


Dr Clare Lanyon

  • Microbial Ecology of the Human Microbiome in Health and disease
  • Neonatal gut microbial community analysis related to sepsis.


Professor Alison McDermott

  • Host response to bacterial and fungal pathogens
  • Ocular surface infections and inflammation



Dr Jose Munoz

  • Structure and function of carbohydrate modifying enzymes including glycoside hydrolases, polysaccharide lyases and carbohydrate esterases
  • Human gut microbiotal metabolism of dietary carbohydrates; Contribution of microbiome to the human health; Modification of gut microbiota composition; Microbial and enzymatic metabolism of plant biomass


Dr Andrew Nelson

  • Understanding the role of the Microbiome in health and disease
  • Functional analysis of microbial communities



Professor David Pearce

  • Microbial ecology (functional diversity and adaptation)
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Life in extreme environments


Dr Darren Smith

  • Biology and Ecology of temperate and lytic bacteriophages in complex microbial communities
  • Using multiple -omics approaches to characterise the symbiotic relationship between bacteriophages, microbial community construction and role in pathogenicity and disease
  • Using bacteriophages to alter microbial communities through re-programming or selective eradication of bacterial subsets


Dr Vartul Sangal

  • Evolutionary dynamics and genetics of virulence characteristics in pathogenic bacteria
  • Applications of next-generation sequencing in prokaryotic systematics


Professor Iain Sutcliffe


Dr St John Usher

  • Fermentation and flavour production in beers and lagers by Saccharomyces yeast strains
  • Enzymic reactions in the production of volatile flavour compounds during fermentation
  • Proteomic and metabolomic analysis of wort samples produced using various roasted malts


Dr Meng Zhang

  • Activation of urease in Bacillus subtilis
  • Optimization of microbial induced calcite processes in the built environment


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