Matt Hutchings

Matt Hutchings


  • BIo UEA

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Genome engineering of actinomycetes to uncover novel natural product antibiotics. Investigating plant root interactions with Streptomyces bacteria. Investigating antibiotic use in the nests of leafcutter ants. Rewiring signals transduction pathways in Streptomyces to activate antibiotic production.

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Personal profile

Academic Background

I did my first degree in Biology in Portsmouth and my PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Southampton. I moved to Norwich in 1998 to do a postdoc with Stephen Spiro at UEA, studying nitric oxide signalling in Gram-negative bacteria. I switched to working with Streptomyces bacteria with Mark Buttner at the John Innes Centre in 2001 and moved back to UEA as a Research Councils UK Fellow in January 2006. Until July 2020 I was Professor of Molecular Microbiology at UEA but moved back to the John Innes Centre on 01/08/20 to take up a Group Leader position. I am now a Visiting Professor at UEA. 




  • 1991 to 1994 University of Portsmouth. BSc (Hons) Biology. First Class
  • 1994 to 1998 University of Southampton. Ph.D
  • 1998 to 2001 University of East Anglia. Senior Research Associate
  • 2001 to 2005 John Innes Centre (JIC). Project Scientist
  • 2006 to 2010 University of East Anglia. RCUK Fellow
  • 2011 to 2012 Lecturer
  • 2012 to 2013 Senior Lecturer
  • 2013 to 2016 Reader
  • 2016 to 2020 Professor of Molecular Microbiology
  • 2020 onwards Group Leader at the JIC and Visiting Professor at UEA



Key Research Interests and Expertise

My research interests include:

  • Analysis and rewiring of conserved and essential signal tranduction pathways in Streptomyces bacteria to activate antibiotic production.
  • Using CRISPR/Cas9 tools to unlock and discover new antibiotics in filamentous actinomycetes.
  • Understanding how nitric oxide gas acts as a signal to trigger cell division and antibiotic production in Streptomyces species.
  • Understanding the formation or protective symbioses between plant roots and Streptomyces bacteria.
  • Understanding microbiome formation using leafcutter ants as a model.  

Life in our research group 

I am a member of two research themes in the School of Biology at UEA, Molecular Microbiology and Organisms and the Environment. This reflects my interests in microbial and chemical ecology as well as biochemistry and genetics. We use a range of approaches to understand how antibiotic-prioducing actinomycete bacteria survive in complex environments, most notably the soil and on (and inside) eukaryotic host organisms. A big focus of our research is to discover novel natural products from these bacteria which can be developed as antibiotics for clinical use but we are also interested in how these antibiotics are used in nature (by the bacteria and by host like plants and insects). We use genome and metagenome sequencing, molecular genetics, protein purification and biochemistry, immunochemistry, microscopy, spectroscopy and LC MS. We have well equipped lab space in the School of Biological Sciences which is a vibrant, enjoyable and stimulating environment with a mix of national and international students and postdocs. We also have strong links and collaborations with scientists at our partner institutes on the Norwich Research Park, the John Innes Centre and the Genome Analysis Centre. Research is shared at regular lab meetings and theme seminars and there are many opportunities to attend national and international conferences to present data.

PhD Positions

Click here for current PhD opportunities in Biological Sciences. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Postdocs & Fellows

I welcome enquiries from motivated postdocs who are interested in applying for their own funding to come and work in my lab.


Professional Activities

  • UEA representative on the Life Science Sector Group of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Core member BBSRC Committee B (2017 onwards)
  • Member of the BBSRC Pool of Experts (January 2014-17)
  • Associate Dean for Innovation, Science Faculty (2014-2018)
  • Associate Editor, Microbiome (2017-)
  • Member of the Peer J Editorial Board (2013-)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Editor Microbiology Today (2006-2009)
  • Member of Council for Society for General Microbiology (2006-2009)


Microbiology; chemical ecology;  filamentous actinomycetes; microbiome analysis and assembly; antibiotics; antimicrobial resistance.

Teaching Interests

I am passionate about microbiology, public engagement and teaching. I host around five undergraduate research students each year as well as summer students and research interns from other universities.

Teaching Activities

  • BIO-4012Y, Introduction to Biomedicine
  • BIO-6005B, Microbial Cell Biology
  • BIO-6010B, Infection and Immunity
  • BIO-6013A, Genomes, Genes, Genomics
  • BIO-6017A, Evolution in Health and Disease
  • BIO-7021A, MSc Biomedicine

Areas Of Expertise

Microbiology; chemical ecology;  filamentous actinomycetes; microbiome analysis and assembly; antibiotics; antimicrobial resistance.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, University of Southampton

Award Date: 1 Jun 1998

Bachelor of Science, University of Portsmouth

Award Date: 1 Jun 1994

External positions

Core member BBSRC Committee B, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

2017 → …

Member of the BBSRC Pool of Experts, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council


Anti-infectives Theme Leader for the Norwich Research Park Industrial Biotechnology Alliance

2015 → …

Member of the Peer J Editorial Board

2015 → …

Panel member for the Research Council of Norway


Member of Council for the Microbiology Society


Editor of Microbiology Today



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