Contact Dr Tom Wilkes

Areas of expertise

  • Applied Informatics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Carbon, Climate and Risk
  • Soil
  • Soil Resources
  • Sustainable Land Systems


Tom studied for a integrated masters in human biology at Staffordshire university with a specialism in microbiology. Tom’s projects focused on antibiotic producing soil fungi and the plant-bacterial interactions in the rhizosphere of indoor plants for the removal of indoor air pollutants (volatile organic compounds) hazardous to health in connection to sick building syndrome. Much of this work has recently become of interest to several local authorities across the Midlands of the UK, with green walls being constructed for the removal of vehicle pollution and carbon sequestration.

Tom then undertook a PhD at the university of Hertfordshire entitled ‘A Comparison of Tillage Techniques on Selected Soil Microbes Within the Rhizosphere of Wheat’, focusing on symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi and mycorrhizal helper bacteria between different soil types, as well as differently managed arable soils.

Tom has spent nearly 2 years in DEFRA, before moving to Cranfield, where he worked on the methods of disease transmission between oak trees, the interactions of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria and oak germination, as well as the early ectomycorrhizal colonisation of germinating oak. Tom then changed research focus to antimicrobial resistance, within DEFRA, in livestock and was able to develop a novel approach to increase the recovery of extracted DNA for improved molecular sequencing.

Tom’s current work at Cranfield investigates the interaction of tree seeds treated with bacterial species for the reduction of seed dormancy and uniform germination.

Current activities

Improving tree seed and establishment to support Agroforestry and on-farm sustainability. (2022 - 2024), in collaboration with Elsoms Seeds Ltd., funded by InnovateUK and Defra. 

Understanding the seed physiology of a range of tree and hedgerow species and developing seed treatments to support direct establishment in the field. 


Articles In Journals