Richard’s work centres on the study of bacteria that typically live in the soil and that form an association with plants; sometimes beneficially and sometimes harmfully.
Specifically, he is seeking to understand how these bacteria know when they are in the proximity of a plant and how they adapt to colonise it.
To understand these processes, a multi-disciplinary approach is taken whereby he investigates the role of specific genes in living cells and also conduct experiments using proteins purified from these bacteria.
What is learnt from how bacteria live on and within plants will provide insights into methods of improving crop yields and may provide a basis for developing environmentally friendly applications. Some of the genes that are studied may prove to be essential for cells to colonise hosts including humans and might therefore be worthy targets for development of novel antibiotics.