Deciphering mycological complexity
The Applied Mycology Group is an internationally recognised Centre of Excellence in specialised areas of the application of fungal technology in the food, environment and health sectors.
The group has pioneered the development of experimental and modelling approaches to understand the relationship between environmental factors and the life cycle of key food spoilage and mycotoxigenic species to facilitate the development of appropriate control strategies in staple commodities. They are now leading international research in the areas of fungi in extreme environments and mycotoxigenic fungi and climate change scenarios in the the context of the food security agenda and towards achieving worldwide sustainable food chains since mycotoxins are negatively impacting 15 out of the 17 UN SDGs (mainly: 1 Zero hunger; 2 No Poverty & 3 Good Health and Well-being).
The in-depth understanding of the molecular ecology and ecophysiology of key spoilage and mycotoxigenic fungi is being utilised in the development of minimisation and prevention strategies for control of moulds and their mycotoxins. The Applied Mycology Group is a dynamic and proactive research group that includes academic staff, post-doctoral scientists and a group of six-eight PhD research students at any one time.
In 2021, the group has launched the Mycotoxin Training Hub. The hub delivers tailored training and research opportunities to tackle specific mycotoxins challenges faced by the Agri-food industry in the UK and worldwide.
- Controlling mycotoxin production and mycotoxin-producing fungi;
- Understanding the effect that predicted climate change and extreme environmental events have on both colonisation and toxin production by different species at ecological and molecular biology levels;
- Provide better storage management systems for commodities prone to fungal spoilage by integrating environmental parameters and biological models;
- Developing biocontrol microorganisms to control economically important pathogenic fungi and pests, including production and enhancing resilience of formulations;
- Identification of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be used as fungal biomarkers for the early detection of fungal spoilage;
- Discovery/production of novel anti-oxidants, essential oils and compounds which may control spoilage moulds and mycotoxin production;
- Extraction and purification of high-value products with potential as anti-fungal compounds;
- Increasing our ability to remediate xenobiotic contamination, especially in terrestrial ecosystems using fungal inoculants.
Current research projects
- EU-funded Twinning project FunShield4Med: Shielding food safety and security by enabling the foresight of fungal spoilage and mycotoxins threats in the Mediterranean region under climate change conditions (2022-2025)
- ODA GCRF - NutriNuts 2: Completion of original deliverables and optimised impact activities (2022-2023)
- UK-China Alliance: Development of the virtual centre of academic excellence for mycotoxin reduction, enhanced nutrition and food safety (2022-2023)
- Lantmännen Research Foundation; org. no. 814000-7397, “Real time CO2 sensors for improvement management of malting barley vigour during storage”, 2021
- EU H2020 - Linking East and West African farming systems experience into a BELT of sustainable intensification (EWA-BELT) (2020-2024)
- QR-GCRF: Development of gender-equal teaching materials to improve Ethiopian women's learning intake on food safety concepts (2020-2021)
- International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA): Resilience of atoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus for control of aflatoxins in different countries in West Africa (92020-2021)
- NutriNuts: Mitigation of aflatoxin occurrence in Ethiopian peanuts used in therapeutic food products to reduce malnutrition in Africa (2019-2022)
- Interreg North-West Europe: Real-time “interactive storage” quality control in fresh agro products (QCAP) (2017-2020)
- H2020: Safe Food and Feed through an Integrated ToolBox for Mycotoxin Management (Mytoolbox) (2016-2020)
- BBSRC/Science Foundation Ireland: Oats for the future: deciphering potential of host resistance and RNAi to minimise mycotoxin contamination under present and future climate scenarios (2016-2021)
Our students thrive on producing the highest quality research. Much of which takes place in collaboration with our extensive pool of industrial partners. Our excellent links facilitate our increasing demand for research students. Find out more about research opportunities in Environment and Agrifood.
We welcome speculative applications from students wishing to pursue their own research interest. If you would like to suggest a project of your own choosing please contact us so we can assign you a suitable supervisor.