Department of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation
The influence of bacteriophages on the evolution and physiology of their bacterial hosts
My research is focused on how bacteriophages (viruses) influence the biology of their bacterial hosts. I work on cyanobacteria and in medical pathogens as in both systems bacteriophages play key roles in controlling the evolution and population dynamics of their hosts. Important information on the bacteriophage biology can be gleamed from sequencing their genomes and I have sequenced full and partial genomes of several bacteriophages. Marine cyanobacteriophages have a physiology which is intimately linked with their hosts and they encode a plethora of genes traditionally thought of as being encoded by cyanobacteria such as photosynthesis genes and genes which influence nutrient uptake. Much of my work concentrates on using genetic and biochemical approaches to determine the function of novel phage genes. I am also interested in gene expression and use quantitative real-time PCR to establish when genes are expressed and how phage infection influences host gene expression. The genomes of phages which infect medical pathogens need to be sequenced before they can be used therapeutically, and in order to establish how they influence bacterial toxin regulation or production.