Overview of research
The main research theme of the lab is on the identification, characterization, response, ecology and biotechnology of marine microorganisms.
One major focus of the lab is on oil-degrading bacteria. These organisms play a key role in the ocean by breaking down petrochemical contaminants, such during an oil spill. We have published widely on the microbial response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and our research also focuses on the microbiology of sea surface and deepwater provinces, such as in the North East Atlantic where oil exploration is expanding. We are also bio-prospecting marine microorganisms for discovering novel types of bio-molecules, such as surface-active agents (bio-surfactants and bio-emulsifiers) for biotechnological applications.
We use conventional and sophisticated microbiological and molecular approaches (e.g. DNA stable isotope probing, CARD-FISH, next generation sequencing). Our aim is to discover and seek an enhanced level of understanding on the resilience of the marine environment to cope with the impacts of fossil fuel contamination – to use this information to combat future oil spills at sea, and exploit the biotechnological potential of marine microbes.