Jess Palmer

University of Warwick


Exploring the taxonomic and functional diversity of tree phyllosphere microbiota


Hendrik Schäfer and Gary Bending

PhD Summary

The phyllosphere (the above ground parts of plants, mainly the leaves), is a largely unexplored microbial habitat. It is thought that it is also one of great importance, with an estimated 1026 bacteria comprising the phyllosphere of Earth. Therefore it is thought that the phyllosphere may have important impacts both on the scale of the individual plant as well as having an impact on global biogeochemical cycles. The project will focus on both investigating the taxonomic diversity of microbes present in the phyllosphere, as well as the functional capabilities they may have. In particular, the project will focus on the ability of phyllosphere microbiota to metabolise atmospheric pollutants. Such research may have implications in future bioremediation studies.

What inspires you?

Learning of environmental issues such as global warming and pollution from an early age in particular inspired me to want to be involved in matters relating to the natural world.

Previous Activity

An undergraduate degree in microbiology and virology at the University of Warwick. During the final masters year I spent 6 months conducting research into the microbiology of the phyllosphere with my current supervisors.

Why did you choose Docotoral Research?

Conducting research has been the highlight of my degree and is something I really enjoy. I became invested in my masters project in particular and so was eager to continue work in this area.

Why did you choose a CENTA Studentship?

he opportunity to conduct research within a community of multidisciplinary researchers who are all focussed on environmental investigations. A CENTA studentship also appealed to me due to the training opportunities and being able to network with researchers in similar fields.

What are your future plans

I think studying here will greatly improve both my research skills as well as other transferrable skills which will improve my employability as an environmental microbiologist. I would like to go into industry in the future, perhaps working with companies which are involved in investigating the microbial degradation of pollutants.