Matt’s group works on the specialised metabolites made by Streptomyces species and closely related actinomycete bacteria, which include more than half of all known antibiotics.
They are particularly interested in the chemical ecology of these bacteria and their natural products. For example, antibiotic-producing actinomycete bacteria interact with insects and plants and protect them against infection by pathogenic bacteria and fungi in return for food and housing. This is called a defensive mutualism (mutually beneficial symbiosis).
Understanding these interactions will help find new and useful natural products, including new antibiotics, and will also help protect important crop plants against disease.