BEACON Team

Paul William Baker

Research Officer

paul.baker@bangor.ac.uk

Bangor University

Background

I obtained a PhD working with actinomycetes that show similar morphological characteristics to fungi with defined substrate and aerial mycelium but are classified as bacteria.  Since then I have been working with a variety of different microorganisms such as methylotrophs (methane consuming bacteria), sulphate reducing bacteria, Shewanella sp. (anaerobic microorganisms), environmental viruses, microorganisms adapted to microgravity and marine fungi.   Currently, I am working with wood degrading fungi that comprise of two distinct groups, white fungi that degrade lignin in wood using lignin degrading enzymes and brown rot fungi that are typically involved in cellulose degradation with wood.

My research experience has enabled me to work in collaboration with scientists searching for enzymes with biotechnological applications at Novo-Nordisk, scientists developing strategies to overcome microbial corrosion at Nippon Steel and scientists investigating problems of microbial contamination occurring in the water systems aboard space vehicles at NASA.  Currently, I am working with Kevin Wall from Farmceutical Applications who is developing new bioproducts from lignocellulose materials with commercial applications.
 

Research Interests

Degrading lignocellulose substrates using fungi to form bioproducts that are concentrated during the degradation process or are formed by the fungi.

Developing a commercial method for the production of fungal enzymes.

Working with the mushroom industry to culture new types, improve cultivation and develop new products.

Obtaining an insight into the mechanisms of lignin degradation by white rot fungi.

 

BEACON Activities

Currently degrading lignocellulose materials to search for new bioproducts in collaboration with Farmaceutical Applications.  Involved in basic mushroom growth experiments that would be of interest to Blawd Ac Ati and Mushroom Garden that are involved in the supply of UK grown Shitake mushrooms Blawd Ac Ati is in the process of rapidly expanding its productivity. 

Otherwise involved in basic academic research to obtain a greater understanding into the degradation processes of fungi, enzyme production and to develop new product ideas.  Results from these studies will be published in peer reviewed journals.

 

Future Plans

  • Identify new products found associated with lignocellulose breakdown and obtain more commercial involvement
  • Continue working with Blawd Ac Ati and The Mushroom Garden
  • Disseminate research output to the wider audience

 

Publications

  • Baker, P.W., Dobson, A.D.W. and Marchesi J.  ( 2012)  In Situ extraction of RNA from marine-derived fungi associated with the marine sponge, Haliclona simulans.  Mycological Progress 11, 953-956.
  • Baker, P.W., J. Kennedy, J. Morrissey, F. O’Gara, A.D.W. Dobson and J.R. Marchesi. (2010) Endoglucanase activities and growth of marine-derived fungi isolated from the sponge Haliclona simulans. J. Appl. Microbiol. 108: 1668-1675.
  • Baker, P. W, J. Kennedy, A.D.W. Dobson and J.R. Marchesi. (2009) Phylogenetic diversity and antimicrobial activities of fungi associated with Haliclona simulans isolated from Irish coastal waters. Mar.Biotechnol. 11: 540-547.
  • Kennedy, J., P. Baker, C. Piper, P.D. Cotter, M. Walsh, M.J. Mooij, M.B. Bourke, M.C. Rea, P.M. O’Connor, R.P. Ross, C. Hill, F. O’Gara, J.R. Marchesi and A.D.W. Dobson. (2009) Isolation and analysis of bacteria with antimicrobial activities from the marine sponge Haliclona simulans  isolated from Irish waters. Mar. Biotechnol. 11: 384-396.