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Dr Gordon Webster

Dr Gordon Webster

Research Associate / Senior Technician

School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2087 5175
West 2.11, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX


Research overview

My research interests are in Geomicrobiology, Natural product discovery from Burkholderia, Biocontrol, Water research and Microbial ecology.

Microbiomes, Microbes and Informatics

I am a member of the Microbiomes, Microbes and Informatics group.




Brief History

I undertook my BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Biology at Nottingham Trent University specialising in plant biology and crop protection. After graduating in 1991, I started my research career at the University of Nottingham with a BBSRC funded PhD (1991-1995) on the interaction between rhizobia and the non-legume Parasponia andersonii (with Prof. Ted Cocking & Dr Mike Davey). In 1995, the work led to a DANIDA funded collaborative postdoctoral position, between the Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire, INRA-CNRS, Castanet-Tolosan, France and the University of Nottingham (with Profs. Jean Dénarié and Ted Cocking). The project was to study the association between diazotrophic microorganisms and non-legume crop plants for endophytic biological N fixation.

I then moved to the University of Aberdeen in 1998, where my research interests focused on microbial ecology on a NERC EDGE project with Prof. Jim Prosser and in collaboration with Prof. Martin Embley, Natural History Museum. We used 16S rRNA-based techniques to characterise the diversity and community structure of natural populations of nitrifying bacteria in upland grassland soils. The work looked at the effects of different environmental factors and management regimes on species diversity, functional gene diversity and nitrification activity of ammonia-oxidising bacteria.

In 2001, I arrived at Cardiff University to work with Profs. Andrew Weightman and John Fry on a NERC MFMB funded project to look at microbial communities in the deep sub-seafloor biosphere, and then later with  Prof. John Parkes (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences). This included research on an EU HERMES and NERC projects to look at the diversity of prokaryotic communities in marine hotspots such as cold seeps, cold-water coral mounds and other anoxic environments. These important systems require urgent study because of their possible biological fragility, unique genetic resources, global relevance to carbon cycling and susceptibility to global change and human impact.

Since 2017, my research interests include antibiotic discovery from Burkholderia species with Prof. Eshwar Mahenthiralingam. This has included several projects funded by the Welsh Government LSBF and BBSRC to investigate the specialised metabolites produced by Burkholderia species for novel antibiotics and biological control agents. Recently, I have also been working on a project with Prof. Andrew Weightman on understanding the microbail communities responsible for biological removal of taste and odour compounds (geosmin & MIB) in DCWW water treatments works.

Professional memberships

Microbiology Society, American Society for Microbiology, Geological Society






  • Webster G, Jones C, Mullins AJ, Mahenthiralingam E. 2018. The induction of biosynthetic clusters from Burkholderia species. In: Abstracts of the 21st International Burkholderia cepacia Working Group Meeting, Dublin, Ireland.
  • Webster G, Mullins AJ, Bull M, Jenner M, Jones C, Murray JAH, Challis GL, Mahenthiralingam E. 2018. Exploring the antimicrobial properties of biopesticidal Burkholderia. In: Abstracts of the Chemistry and Biology of Natural Products Symposium XII, Warwick, UK.
















  • Webster G, Newberry CJ, Fry, JC, Weightman AJ. 2003. Assessment of bacterial community structure in the deep sub-seafloor biosphere by 16S rDNA-based techniques: a cautionary tale. Journal of Microbiological Methods 55: 155-164.
  • Prosser JI, Embley TM, Webster G. 2003. The influence of selection pressures on species diversity, functional gene diversity and activity of ammonia oxidising bacteria. In: Genes in the Environment (Eds. Hails RS et al.). Blackwell Science Ltd., Oxford, pp. 187-202.
  • Haynes S, Darby AC, Daniell TJ, Webster G, van Veen FJF, Godfray HCJ, Prosser JI, Douglas AE. 2003. The diversity of bacteria associated with natural aphid populations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69: 7216-7223.


  • Webster G, Embley TM, Prosser JI. 2002. Grassland management regimens reduce small-scale heterogeneity and species diversity of b-proteobacterial ammonia oxidiser populations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 68: 20-30.
  • Radajewski S, Webster G, Reay DS, Morris SA, Ineson P, Nedwell DB, Prosser JI, Murrell JC. 2002. Identification of active methylotroph populations in an acidic forest soil by stable-isotope probing. Microbiology 148: 2331-2342.



  • Webster G, Jain V, Davey MR, Gough C, Vasse J, Dénarié J, Cocking EC. 1998. The flavonoid naringenin stimulates the colonization of wheat roots by Azorhizobium caulinodans. Plant, Cell and Environment 21: 373-383.
  • Webster G, Davey MR, Cocking EC. 1998. Parasponia: A nitrogen-fixing non-legume of the Ulmaceae. In: Tree Biotechnology: Towards the Millennium (Eds. Davey MR et al.). Nottingham University Press, Nottingham, pp. 77-86.


  • Webster G, Gough C, Vasse J, Batchelor CA, O’Callaghan KJ, Kothari SL, Davey MR, Dénarié J, Cocking EC. 1997. Interactions of rhizobia with rice and wheat. Plant and Soil 194: 115-122.
  • Gough C, Vasse J, Galera C, Webster G, Cocking E, Dénarié J. 1997. Interactions between bacterial diazotrophs and non-legume dicots: Arabidopsis thaliana as a model plant. Plant and Soil 194: 123-130.
  • Gough C, Galera C, Vasse J, Webster G, Cocking E, Dénarié J. 1997. Specific flavonoids promote intercellular root colonization of Arabidopsis thaliana by Azorhizobium caulinodans ORS571. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 10: 560-570.
  • Hu X, Zhang X, Huang Q, Jiang M, Cocking EC, Webster G. 1997. Inducing nodulation and nitrogen fixation on rape roots with pectobacterium. Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer Science 3: 275-279.
  • Sabry RS, Saleh SA, Batchelor CA, Jones J, Jotham J, Webster G, Kothari SL, Davey MR, Cocking EC. 1997. Endophytic establishment of Azorhizobium caulinodans in wheat. Proceedings of the Royal Society London: Biological Sciences 264: 341-346.


  • Webster G, Poulton PR, Cocking EC, Davey MR. 1995. The nodulation of micro-propagated plants of Parasponia andersonii by tropical legume rhizobia. Journal of Experimental Botany 46: 1131-1137.
  • Webster G, Cocking EC, Davey MR. 1995. Parasponia with rhizobia: A neglected non-legume nitrogen fixing symbiosis. AgBiotech News and Information 7: 119N-124N. AgBiotech


  • Cocking EC, Webster G, Batchelor CA, Davey MR. 1994. Nodulation of non-legume crops: A new look. Agro-Food-Industry Hi-Tech Jan/Feb: 21-24.
  • Cocking EC, Webster G, Kothari SL, Pawlowski K, Jones J, Batchelor CA, Jotham JP, Jain S, Davey MR. 1994. Nodulation and nitrogen fixation in non-legume Parasponia species: Clues for non-legume crops. In: The 1st European Meeting on Nitrogen Fixation (Eds. Kiss GB & Endre GJ). Officina Press, Szeged, pp. 215-219.


  • Davey MR, Webster G, Manders G, Ringrose FL, Power JB, Cocking EC. 1993. Effective nodulation of micro-propagated shoots of the non-legume Parasponia andersonii by Bradyrhizobium. Journal of Experimental Botany 44: 863-867.