Our current research is directed toward understanding ecological, physiological and evolutionary adaptation of microbial populations, especially those playing fundamental processes in a key step of the global biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen, ammonia oxidation. We are also directing new research studies on microbial communities interacting with ammonia oxidisers or thriving in similar habitats.


This research is performed at the ecological level, through analysis of community activity and stability (resistance/resilience) to environmental perturbations such as temperature change, or deforestation in oil palm plantations, and  over the longer-term evolutionary scales, determining mechanisms leading to 2.5 billion years of diversification (e.g. horizontal gene transfer, gene duplication, molecular selection) associated with acidophilic or terrestrial environmental adaptation.


Due to the broad distribution of ammonia oxidisers, our studies focus on environments ranging from boreal acidic soils to temperate plant rhizospheres through marine tropical sponges, each associated with specific adaptation questions.


These studies are performed through a range of lab-based (e.g. stable-isotope-probing, enrichment and cultivation, flow-cytometry, quantitative PCR) or computer-based (e.g. metagenomics assembly, phylogenomics reconstruction, multivariate statistics) approaches.


  • 03/09/2021: A few updates on departures (Corey, William, Colin and Maya) and arrivals (Zuzanna)...time flies!

  • 27/07/2021: Paul and Cecile both gave a talk at the Archaea 2021 meeting, which was very well attended!

  • 20/07/2021: Jasmeet presented her results on BNI during her talk at the ICON7 meeting (International Conference on Nitrification and Related Processes)

  • 08/01/2021:Jasmeet and Paul both gave a talk in the annual UK Archaea Workshop.

  • 06/01/2021: We welcome Corey Kirkland and Colin Guetemme in our group to work on bioinfromatics and modelling approaches respectively!

  • 10/12/2020: Cecile gave a talk in the Environmental Microbiology Seminar series of the Life Department of the University Warwick. Thanks Ryan Mushinski for the invitation and for the interesting follow-up discussion!


  • 07/12/2020: We welcome Maya Schroedl as a new Research Assistant in the group. She will work on nitrifier phylogenomics and is funded by The Royal Society.

  • 03/12/2020: Biji Shibulal just defended her MSc on transposons in Thaumarchaeota with Prof Graeme Nicol and Dr Marius Wenzel as examiners. Well done Biji for a successful viva!

  • 26/10/2020: We welcome Emma Beaton as a new Research Assistant in the group. She will work on thaumarchaeotal community within a diverse range of sponges and is funded by The Royal Society.


  • 01/10/2020: We welcome Rachel Callaghan as a new PhD student in the group. She will work on microbial adaptation using both bioinformatics and experimental evolution approaches and is funded by The Royal Society.