Biological/Organic Chemist; Chemical Ecologist

Biointeractions and Crop Protection


Mike is a highly skilled chemical ecologist, leading hypothesis-driven chemical ecology research that underpins the development of novel pest management strategies. He has more than 150 publications and patents. Mike has extensive expertise in the isolation, analysis and characterisation of small lipophilic molecules (SLMs) of biological origin acting either as external chemical signals (semiochemicals) for invertebrate arthropod pests and disease vectors (insects, ticks and mites) or as biomarkers of infectious disease status. He leads research in four areas: 1) the discovery and quantification of SLMs found in plants, farmed livestock and humans that affect pest behaviour; 2) elucidating the modification of plant secondary metabolite signals upon biotic stress and elicitor treatment, and their role in mediating above ground and below ground plant/pest interactions and plant/plant communication; 3) developing new strategies for overcoming resistance to semiochemicals, using complementary approaches to understand the evolutionary process by which insect resistance to semiochemicals develops and how novel semiochemicals can be identified on a rational basis; and 4) the development of new measures for the control of farmed livestock/human disease vectors and nuisance pests, based on an understanding of the role of semiochemicals in determining non-host avoidance and the genetics responsible for non-host semiochemical production in vertebrate hosts.




    +44 (0) 1582 938 205


      Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ


        Strategic programme

        • Smart Crop Protection (SCP)

        Science project

        • Novel semiochemicals for crop protection through synthetic biology
        • The interplay of rodent behaviour and semiochemistry:from scientific principles to control strategies
        • Bilateral BBSRC-FAPESP: Defining the genetic and semiochemical basis of tick resistance in cattle
        • Novel semiochemicals for crop protection through synthetic biology
        • IBCARP: chemical ecology of drought-tolerant plants used in the Push-Pull system
        • UK Brazil partnering award for developing new aphid resistance in wheat
        • New pest resistance in rice, by breeding and genetic modification (GM) for constitutive and inducible levels of defence homoterpenes
        • Saving the smallholder dairy industry in east Africa: validation and implementation of an integrated management approach for Napier Stunt disease

        PhD project

        • Elucidation of Insect Olfaction in the Pea Aphid, Acrythosiphon pisum.
        • Elucidating the Biosynthetic Pathway of the Aphid Sex Pheromone
        • Characterisation of Chemical Signalling from Beneficial Trichoderma spp.
        • Fruit Host Selection by the Olfactory System in the Agricultural Pest Drosophila suzukii
        • Mechanisms and function of electroreception in bees


        • 1994 - PhD Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Novel Aspects of Benzyne Chemistry, University of Nottingham, UK
        • 1990 - BSc Biochemistry & Biological Chemistry, (2:1 Honours), University of Nottingham, UK


        • Member of the BBSRC Pool of Experts
        • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
        • Chartered Chemist, Royal Society of Chemistry
        • Member of the American Chemical Society, the Phytochemical Society of Europe, The International Society for Chemical Ecology, The Latin American Association of Chemical Ecology
        • Member Editorial Board, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (Review Editor for Chemical Ecology) and Chemistry Central Journal (Founding Editor)
        • Referee for a range of journals (chemical ecology, phytochemistry, plant science, pest management, natural products chemistry) and grant-awarding bodies
        • Successful supervision of six UK-based and three international-based PhD students
        • Convener and scientific programme committee member for multiple international conferences
        • External examiner for PhD viva examinations in UK
        • Frequent invited (including plenary and keynote) lectures at scientific conferences