I hold a BA in Biological Sciences from Oxford University and an MSc in Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement from the University of East Anglia. I am now studying for my PhD at Aberystwyth, funded as part of the BBSRC FoodBioSystems Doctoral Training Partnership.
My project focuses on the bacterial communities inhabiting plant seeds. Many bacterial endophytes are known to confer benefits to host plant, including members of the seed microbiome. However, the conservation of seed communities over time and across plant generations is poorly understood. My aim is to make use of the material stored within the Seed BioBank at Aberystwyth, to investigate the degree of change that has occurred over decades of crop breeding at IBERS. I will also test the hypothesis that there is a negative correlation between seed age and microbial diversity, in order to address the question of whether seed endophyte viability decreases over time. I will also isolate endophytes from seed and evaluate strains for potential plant-growth-promoting effects.
My main study species are perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), oat (Avena sativa) and energy crop Miscanthus. Each has been the subject of extensive breeding efforts at IBERS while representing contrasting stages of domestication and improvement.