Maria is a Daphne Jackson Trust Fellow working with Professor Tony Miller, Professor Anne Osbourn and Dr Simon Griffiths.
Her research focuses on the identification of plant genes responsible for the production and release in to the rhizosphere of natural inhibitors of soil nitrification. She achieves this by comparing the ability of historical varieties of wheat (Watkins bread wheat landrace collection) and elite modern cultivars to release these compounds.
She combines chemical and biological methodologies to measure changes in nitrification rate:
- Soil sensors for monitoring nitrogen content in soils (developed in Miller’s group)
- Bioluminescence assay, based on bacterial reporters, to quantify biological nitrification inhibition in root exudates
Using the plantiSMASH platform she seeks to identify the pathways involved in the biosynthesis of biological nitrification inhibitors (BNIs).
In parallel, she aims to identify SNPs and quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with BNI activity using Axiom SNP array data available for these wheats.
Maria has previously conducted research in carbon turnover in soils under contrasting land management and bioavailability of pollutants in soil.