John Thomas

Mechanisms of adaptation of soil microbiota to pesticides

Metaldehyde is a pesticide that is frequently found in drinking water at concentrations above the legal limit. This project is about finding the genes and enzymes that soil microbes use to break down metaldehyde. Enzymes discovered this way may be useful in water treatment, and uncovering how bacteria evolved the capacity to metabolise this synthetic compound would provide insights into bacterial evolution. I have isolated bacteria that can use metaldehyde as a sole carbon and energy source and am investigating the biochemistry of this metabolic process along with the genetics of the organisms in order to discover the enzymes involved.

I decided to leave a career in the Royal Mail and do something interesting, important and exciting instead. I am interested in evolution and synthetic biology and so re-entered education to complete a Biology BSc at Staffordshire and an MRes Post-genomic Biology from the University of York before starting my PhD at York.