Our Research

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 temperature, soil minerals and pollutants can tip the balance between disease resistance and susceptibility. We also study how the metabolic and regulatory networks and biosynthetic capabilities of plants and plant-associated microorganisms determine the outcome of plant-microbe interactions, 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.  

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 Director of the BBSRC-funded Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership and a fellow of Linacre College. 


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