I have been a professor of Microbial Ecology since 1998. My PhD work was conducted at the Laboratory of Chemical Ecology, Lund University, and was focused on developing sensitive methods (GC/MS) for analyzing chemical markers for assessing the biomass and structure of microbial communities. This work continued during a two year post-doc at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, USA with David C. White. Upon returning to Sweden, I joined the Department of Microbial Ecology in Lund. I continued to work on lipid biomarkers, but in the beginning of the 1990s, I started a program examining the molecular background of the interaction between nematode-trapping fungi and nematodes. I was introduced to this fascinating group of parasitic fungi by professor Birgit Nordbring-Hertz.
Around the year 2000, my research interests extended into symbiotic ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. The two main aims of this research are to get a molecular understanding of the interaction between EM fungi, organic matter and saprophytic microorganisms in soils; and to examine the evolutionary mechanisms leading to the symbiotic lifestyle and functional diversity of soil-dwelling fungi.
Analysing DNA/RNA sequences is an important part of my research. I have been the head of the DNA sequencing platform located in the Ecology building since 2002, and was involved in starting the research school in genomic ecology (GENECO). More recently, I have participated in setting up the strategic research initiative BECC - Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate. Since 2011, I am an elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Photo mycorrhiza: Derek P. Wright