About The Lab

            In my laboratory, we investigate the enormous biodiversity of bacterial life present in a number of wide-ranging habitats. Although we employ molecular techniques to study microorganisms, we also appreciate the traditional skills of the microbiologist. It is only in the seamless use of both traditional microbiological and modern molecular techniques that we can begin to understand the complex interrelationships of organisms. We are interested not only in the vast array of microorganisms and the habits they frequent but also in the shifts in population structures occurring due to changes in environmental conditions or particular stresses placed upon a particular ecosystem and the interplay of microorganisms within the biosphere.

            Systematics, a fundamental discipline underpins the science of microbiology, provides a framework allowing for the classification, nomenclature and identification of strains. My expertise is in microbial systematics spanning a 35-year period and I have been responsible or associated with the naming or re-classification of over 140 bacteria that includes 2 families, 40 genera and almost 100 species. The focus of much of my work is with the gastrointestinal tract of both humans and animals. I have made and continue to make significant contributions to the taxonomy of several economic and complex groups that include Clostridium and Lactobacillus. I am now consulted on a regular basis for my opinion or invited for collaboration on a wide range of organisms. This includes multiple book chapters (24) to some of the preeminent resources for microbial identification and taxonomy that includes Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, The Prokaryotes, and Biodiversity and Taxonomy of the Lactic Acid Bacteria. Through these associations I collaborate on a regular basis with many recognized leaders in gut microbiology.

            Furthermore, I have extensive links with individuals recognized as leaders in chemotaxonomy. My achievements are recognized with invitations to several prestigious committees such as the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes Clostridium and Related Taxa Sub Committee and the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes: -Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Related Organisms. In addition, I am involved with two important publications pertaining to microbial systematics, I serve on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology as an Associate Editor and Editor-in-chief of the Bergey’s International Society for Microbial Systematics Bulletin.

Research Focus

            We have many interests and side projects and at first sight this may seen a disparate array of organisms and subject matters; however the overriding theme is molecular systematics using traditional microbiological and modern molecular genetic methods.

1. Human Gut Microbiome
2. Microbial Taxonomy
3. Isolation and characterization of novel microorganisms from a wide range of habitats

Previous Research Projects Have Focused On

1. Biofuel
2. Biocorrosion
3. Investigations into microbial populations in swine manure and slurry
4. Investigations to into microbial assemblages associated with hot spring