Catherine Philip

Catherine Philip


My interest in environmental research developed during my bachelor’s program in biotechnology, where I investigated the role of indigenous microorganisms in wastewater bioremediation. During my postgraduate studies in biotechnology, I was part of a student research exchange program at the University of Wolverhampton. My research focused on harnessing seaweed biomass for the cost-effective production of poly-γ-glutamic acid as a sustainable alternative to conventional synthesis methods. The study also assessed the potential applications poly-γ-glutamic acid for cosmetic use due to its hydrating capabilities. My thesis was titled “Synthesis and characterization of poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) for cosmetic applications”.

My research at Wolverhampton piqued my curiosity to study seaweed-bacteria interactions, prompting me to explore their ecological dynamics. Additionally, I worked as an intern at CSIR-CCMB in India, where I investigated zebrafish regeneration and toxicology by assessing the expression of genes involved in caudal fin regeneration.

My passion lies in studying marine life and assessing its potential impact on human beings. I believe the study of marine organisms, particularly seaweeds, holds tremendous potential for offering innovative solutions to current environmental issues.

Catherine Philip

PhD title: "Climate-linked microbial interactions in green tide causing seaweed"

Dimethyl sulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is a ubiquitous organosulfur molecule on Earth. Ulva seaweeds, known for causing green tides, are prolific DMSP producers. These Ulva species synthesize DMSP as an anti-stress compound and can cleave DMSP to liberate the climate-cooling gas dimethyl sulphide (DMS). However, the precise role of DMSP within Ulva remains unclear. Furthermore, DMSP released by Ulva into the environment has roles in signalling and recruiting beneficial bacteria, which use DMSP as a nutrient and facilitate further DMS production.

My project explores how and why DMSP is produced and degraded by the Ulva species and aims to study its interactions with associated bacteria that utilize the DMSP produced by Ulva. I will also investigate the expression and activity of key Ulva DMSP synthesis and lyase genes/enzymes and identify microbes that utilize DMSP for carbon in Ulva. This project will represent the first molecular microbiological study of organosulfur cycling by green tide-causing Ulva, which produces exceptionally high DMSP levels.