Post-doctoral Research Associate
My fundamental interests lie in the gene regulatory networks that enable bacteria to adapt to both environmental and metabolic stimuli, in particular in relation to their interactions with plants. I use systems biology approaches (RNA-seq and targeted proteomics) to understand regulatory networks both in their naturally stimulated states and when perturbed using synthetic biology tools. I am particularly interested in how synthetic regulatory proteins can be used to exploit plant-growth promoting bacteria.
My current research aims to re-engineer nitrogen fixing bacteria (‘diazotrophs’) for improved plant growth promotion and in turn reduce the dependence of agriculture on chemical fertilisers. We are using systems biology tools to investigate how hierarchical layers of regulatory control establish efficient nitrogen use in soil-dwelling bacteria (such as Klebsiella oxytoca and Azotobacter vinelandii), whereby the rates of nitrogen fixation (N2 to ammonia) and assimilation (ammonia to amino acids) are explicitly coupled (via master regulator proteins) to optimise ammonia metabolism. What we learn with respect to the key nodes of control and robustness will inform rational re-tuning of the regulatory network using synthetic transcription factors, with the aim of allowing excess ammonia to be released into the soil.
- Free-living nitrogen fixation
Current N-related Projects:
- Managing N economy in bacteria (BBSRC, UK: BB/N003608/1)