Sarah Johnston

Research student

Biography

I'm a NERC-funded PhD student researching fungal-prokaryote interactions in decomposing wood, under the supervision of Professors Andy Weightman and Lynne Boddy. I studied my undergraduate degree at Cardiff, graduating with BSc Ecology in 2012; for my final year dissertation I researched freshwater bryophyte-invertebrate interactions, in Professor Steve Ormerod's group.

I was one of the British Ecological Society's Undergraduate Fellows in 2012-13. In addition to research, I'm also very interested in scientific communication, public engagement and education; and in the history and philosophy of science, particularly the relationship between science and Christianity.

Research interests

Fungi are the principal organisms responsible for wood decomposition, yet surprisingly little is known about their interactions with the bacteria also ubiquitous in wood; there is potential for competitive, mutualistic or facilitatory relationships between these organisms.

Previous studies suggest that the bacterial community within dead wood varies according to the dominant fungal species present. The archaeal community within dead wood has received negligible attention thus far. The majority of wood-dwelling bacteria cannot be cultured, so it is only with the rise of molecular techniques that studying them has become feasible. We are currently researching the prokaryotic community in dead wood and its relationship with wood-decay fungi, using field experiments and a variety of molecular approaches such as 16S/ITS2 amplicon sequencing.

Professor Andy Weightman

Head of Organisms and Environment Division, Professor

External profiles