Centre for Biological Sciences

Research Group: Environmental Biosciences

The central theme of the Environmental Biosciences Research Group is to understand the interaction of organisms with the environment at the molecular, cellular, whole organism and population levels. Our combined skills in ecology, genetics, evolutionary and molecular biology give us the capacity to address current and future problems of worldwide significance such as impact and mitigation of climate change, GMOs in the wider environment, food security, the sustainable use of natural resources and species conservation.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Our environmental biosciences research exploits a range of plant, insect and microbial model systems. We have a strong grouping in molecular and cellular plant biology that addresses the functioning of plants in relation to the environment. This includes the use of plants for renewable energy and important crop science priorities such as plant responses to abiotic and biotic stresses and improved nutrition.

Furthermore, our environmental biosciences research on insects focuses on a variety of issues including resistance to parasites and pathogens and the biology of ageing. The theme also includes the Environmental Healthcare Unit and research focusing on microbial ecology, particularly in high species diversity biofilms.

Thus we are able to address a range of RCUK cross-cutting research programmes such as Living with Environmental Change, Energy and Food Security as well as Healthy Living and Ageing.

Environmental Biosciences Principle Investigators (PI)

Dr Mark Chapman: PI Evolutionary Genomics and Transcriptomics
Dr Patrick Doncaster: PI Population ecology
Dr Felix Eigenbrod: PI Spatial Ecology
Associate Professor Chris Jackson: PI Behaviour & pest control
Dr Bill Keevil: PI Microbiology & environmental health
Dr Alan Marchant: PI Plant cell walls and root development
Professor Guy Poppy: PI Insect/plant interactions
Professor Gail Taylor: PI Plants & Environment
Professor Matthew Terry: PI Chloroplast development and function
Dr Lorraine Williams: PI Membrane transporters



Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group:


Role of electrostatics in entomology

Antimicrobial Tolerance in Bacterial Biofilms: An Inter-Disciplinary Approach

Mapping the supply and demand of bioenergy in Great Britain to 2050

Antimicrobial copper: Biocidal efficacy and killing mechanism of copper and copper alloy dry surfaces against bacterial and viral pathogens

Plastid-to-nucleus signalling in plants

WISER: Which Ecosystem Service Models best capture the needs of the rural poor?

Are GTGs a new class of plant anion channels regulating pH in the endomembrane system?

Prevention and minimisation of biofilms on urinary catheters and equipment

Vitacress Research Unit: Improving the quality and healthy-giving benefits of baby salad leaves

Evolutionary aspects of ant-fungus interactions in leaf-cutting ants

Multitrophic interactions - inducted plant resistance and plant S.O.S. signalling


Tsetse fly control

Wildlife corridors for large mammals in Belize

Environmental Healthcare Unit Consultancy

Development of novel methods to assess the viability and infectivity of pathogens in biofilms found in drinking water supply systems.

Harnessing the Genetic Diversity of Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) for Improved Morphology and Anti-cancer Benefits: Underpinning Data for Molecular Breeding.

In-Vivo Imaging of Soil, Roots and Root Hairs for Improved Understanding of Phosphate Uptake by Plants

A global framework for quantifying the ecosystem service impacts of oil and biofuel production

Physiological function of the GTG/GPHRs, a highly conserved family of eukaryotic membrane proteins

Improving solar conversion efficiency in marine microalgae

Sustainable urban planning decision support for urban planning BRIDGE

Rapid assessment of surface contamination and decontamination efficacy

EuroChar: Development of technologies for long-term carbon sequestration

Improving the sustainability of water use in baby leaf salad crops

How does natural and anthropogenic disturbance change human population growth?

Development of endoscope decontamination procedures

Predictive Adaptive Responses in Drosophila

Control of fruitflies in Malaysian fruit crops

Diet and immune responses in Drosophila melanogaster

Evolution of cooperation in microbial biofilms

Developmental function of the RGII component of pectin in plants

Characterisation of glycosyltransferases functioning during the synthesis of the secondary cell wall hemicellulose glucuronoxylan

Microbial interactions in multi-species drinking water biofilm community

Biofouling control for in-situ lab-on-a-chip environmental sensors

Molecular breeding for quality and health benefits in lettuce

Ecosystem Canaries: biodiversity measures as early warning signals

Bioenergy value chains: Whole systems analysis and optimisation

Immunity, neurodegeneration and ageing

ENERGYPOPLAR: Understanding traits for bioenergy in poplar


Adaptive differences in response to flooding in Populus alba and Populus tremula

Investigating Novel Genes in Poplar for Improved Cell Wall Disassembly

CleanWeb - the Web as an enabler of environmental sustainability

Using Next Generation Sequencing to understand acclimation and adaption of Plantago lanceolata to a changing environment

Implications of drought conditions for microbial soil ecology: a metagenomic approach

Conservation and adaptation in the landscape: A review of landscape scale approaches in Britain

The regulatory mechanisms controlling zinc content in wheat

A genome-wide approach to understand domestication

Environmental impact of transgenic (GM) plants

Physiology, genetics and genomics of drought adaptation in Populus

Exploring the influence of the plant lateral root gravitropic set point angle on architecture in soils using X-Ray Computed Tomography

Origin and evolution of chess-like board games

An individual-based perspective on macroevolution

Safe operating spaces for regional rural development: a new conceptual tool for evaluating complex socio-ecological system dynamics

Climate-proof habitat refugia

Manganese homeostasis in higher plants

Nutrient stress in plants in relation to biofortification and phytoremediation

Relative importance of innate, conditioned and learnt behaviours

Mechanism for delayed senescence in Populus in a high CO2 world

Digital life

BioliSME II: Demonstration, validation and preliminary promotion of a commercial prototype speedy system for sampling and detecting Listeria monocytogenes

Global transcriptomic responses to parasitism

An ecosystem service approach to quantifying the role of freshwater biodiversity in supporting food security

Identifying the regulating factors of biodiversity in deep time

Using transcriptomics to understand adaptation and speciation in an island radiation

SecurEau – Security and decontamination of drinking water distribution systems following a deliberate contamination event.

Cold Atmospheric Plasma (CAP) for the decontamination of reusable surgical instruments

The role of nitric oxide in the control of biofilm and zoonotic pathogen colonisation of the salad phylloplane

Parallel domestication as a model to understand the repeatability of phenotypic evolution

Postgraduate opportunities

If you are interested in joining us either to study or to become part of our research team please select the relevant link below for further information.

Funded PhD Opportunities

Current job vacancies at the University of Southampton