I am interested in understanding how higher fungi grow, exploit resources in their environment and make mushrooms. I mainly employ molecular tools (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics) in my research combined with traditional microbiological and biochemical analysis.
I have been involved in many genome research programmes of saprotrophic wood decay fungi working closely with the Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, California, and led the dry rot fungus (Serpula lacrymans) sequencing project. The main findings have focused on the evolution of wood decay mechanisms, particularly the convergent evolution of the brown rot decay mode.
My current research uses genome sequenced saprotrophs to study the interaction between competing fungi during wood decay, considering the succession from primary through to tertiary decomposers and how environmental change might affect these processes.
I have worked extensively with the cultivated button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, investigating mushroom development in response to environmental triggers, regulation of postharvest quality, flavour development and controlling mushroom virus X disease. I built on this expertise to assess the potential of wood decay fungi in a novel low input biorefinery model to generate high value chemical products from lignin decomposition.
I also supervise research students investigating the control of invasive plants, particularly Japanese knotweed, and the interaction between rare sand dune-inhabiting orchid species and rhizosphere microorganisms. Since joining Swansea University, I have enjoyed working with colleagues on diverse projects from the mechanisms of killing by entomopathogenic fungi, fish transcriptomics and diseases of crustaceans.