Oliver George

My thesis focuses on plant-bacteria interactions, specifically the behaviour of E. coli O157:H7 on raw or minimally processed salad vegetables during growth. Several salad crops are being used as a test environment with an aim to identify how important the species of the host plant is with regards to colonisation and possibly identify any common factors which might allow a plant adapted E. coli to have transferable survivability, something which would be of grave concern if it were to occur in a highly virulent strain. We hope that better understanding of the means by which E. coli survives on the plant surface may lead to more effective methods of contamination prevention.

While studying for my undergraduate degree in Microbiology at the University of Reading I realised that a career in academic research was a primary goal for me. In the summer prior to my final year I worked on the caf operon of Yersinia pestis, better known as the causative agent of plague. I continued this work for my final year project resulting in almost 6 months of lab work. This extended research period gave me a taste of the academic experience and was what ultimately drove to pursue a PhD. As I moved straight into a PhD following my degree I don’t have a particularly expansive catalogue of research although I aim to rectify this.

Research Areas

  • Escherichia coli genetics and physiology
  • Plant/bacteria interactions with a focus on E. coli
  • Effects of E. coli colonisation on a “healthy” plant bacteria community