Dr Peter Spencer-Phillips

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About me

Peter obtained his BSc in Microbiology and PhD in Plant Pathology at Imperial College, London, before moving to the University of Liverpool as a NERC-funded Research Fellow. He was appointed to a Lectureship in Mycology and Plant Pathology in 1982 at the University of the West of England, and served as Head of the Department of Applied Sciences from 2008 to 2013. He is currently International Director for the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, and an Associate Professor in Applied Microbiology.
Research interests include the cell biology of downy mildew pathogens, and the biology and early detection of post-harvest spoilage of fruit, vegetables and grain. Study of the cell biology and detection of downy mildew and other pathogens is mainly through the use of proteomics, where proteins are separated on 2-D gels, and individual protein spots excised for identification by mass spectrometry. Specific proteins may then be used as biomarkers for disease detection by in-field diagnostic kits and/or biosensors. Dr Heather Macdonald (Centre for Research in Biosciences) is the main collaborator in this work.
Early detection of post-harvest spoilage by bacteria, fungi, mites and insects has deployed gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to identify volatile organic compounds (e.g. alcohols, esters, aldehydes etc) that can be detected by metal oxide sensors within ‘electronic nose’ devices. This involves collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team lead by Prof. Norman Ratcliffe (Centre for Research in Biosciences).

Area of expertise

Microbiology of food spoilage and plant disease


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