Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
 Alex Mullins

Alex Mullins

Research Associate

Ysgol y Biowyddorau

Adeilad Syr Martin Evans, Rhodfa'r Amgueddfa, Caerdydd, CF10 3AX



I graduated from Cardiff University with a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology, and then started my postgraduate studies as a PhD student at the Microbiomes, Microbes and Informatics (MMI) group at Cardiff University. During my PhD I focussed on the natural products produced by Burkholderia bacteria, and the use of these bacteria as biological pesticides in agriculture.

Current research

I hold a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Microbiomes, Microbes and Informatics (MMI) group. This research builds on the use of Burkholderia as biopesticides, addressing the efficacy, safety and persistence of these bacteria in this agricultural application. More broadly, I am interested in the phylogenomics of Burkholderia and related genera, and their capacity to produce specialised metabolites.






My research is divided into two main areas: biopesticides and bacterial genomics


The bacterium Burkholderia ambifaria has been used historically as a commercial biopesticide but fell out of favour due to concern over the opportunistic pathogenicity of member of the genus Burkholderia in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. However, with the updated sequencing and genomics tools developed over the last decade we can accurately identify Burkholderia species and those most commonly isolated from CF patients.

Greater knowledge of Burkholderia prevalence in CF and increasing evidence of the antimicrobial specialised metabolite capacity of Burkholderia species has led to a resurgence in interest for Burkholderia use as a biopesticide. I am investigating the distribution of specialised metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters across different strains and species, and identifying those capable of synthetising antimicrobial compounds. Additionally, we are analysing the efficacy of different species and strains as biopesticides, the persistence of these bacteria in the soil following application as biopesticides, and their ability to cause disease.

Bacterial genomics

The genus Burkholderia has undergone multiple changes since it was established in 1993 following a split from Pseudomonas. Currently, there are six "sister" genera alongside Burkholderia sensu stricto that form the broader grouping Burkholderia sensu lato. Accurate identification of strains using genomics tools is essential to understanding the populaton biology of a strain and how it relates to other strains and species in a wider context. I make use of public genome databases alongside genomes sequenced at MMI from our own strain collection to interpret evolutionary relationships and predict specialised metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs).

Large genomic datasets enable us to perform genome mining analyses to understand the distribution of BGCs and direct specialised metabolite discovery. Such analyses have led to the discovery and characterisation of multiple specialised metabolites in Burkholderia.