Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Our research focuses on plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions, with a particular emphasis on bacterial diseases of plants and mushrooms. We aim to understand how the microenvironment inside host organisms affects disease development, and how environmental factors such as soil mineral nutrients and pollutants can tip the balance between disease resistance and susceptibility. We also study how the metabolic and regulatory networks and biosynthetic capabilities of plant-associated microorganisms contribute to disease development, and how knowledge of host-microbe interactions can be exploited for biotechnological applications and disease control.
Our interdisciplinary research programme uses a wide variety of techniques ranging from microbiology, metabolomics, modelling and molecular genetics to imaging and informatics. We collaborate with researchers in the departments of Plant Sciences, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics and Zoology at Oxford, and with researchers across a wide range of organisations including UWE (Dr. Dawn Arnold), University of Reading (Dr. Robert Jackson), ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (Dr. Luke Clifton and Prof. Jeff Penfold), Kingston University (Dr. Ali Ryan and Dr. Edith Sim), University of Bath (Dr. Christian Yates) and in Europe and the USA (Dr. Anja Hörger, Prof. Alan Collmer and Prof. Joyce Loper) to investigate plant-pathogen interactions, virulence mechanisms and stress tolerance in pathogenic microorganisms, and to develop novel experimental techniques.
Gail Preston studied Natural Sciences at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at Cornell University. She was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2001. In 2009 she became a Programme Director at the University of Oxford's Doctoral Training Centre and she is currently the co-Director of the BBSRC-funded Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership and a fellow of Linacre College.