My main focus of research, in collaboration with Drs Darren Martin (South Africa) and Dionne Shepherd (South Africa), is analysing the diversity of the plant-infecting geminiviruses in Africa, South America, the Middle East, the South West Indian Ocean Islands and the Pacific Islands. In addition to this we study geminivirus recombination patterns using various techniques. Methods and tools that we developed for amplification, cloning and analysis of geminiviruses have been implemented to isolate novel DNA viruses from various ecosystems and this work forms the basis of a virus ecology workgroup.
Prof Trevor Sewell (South Africa), Dr Keizo Nagasaki (Japan) and I have been studying the virus structure of Heterocapsa circularisquama RNA virus (a dinoflagellate-infecting virus). Our studies have revealed that the capsid structure is an icosahedral lattice with a T=3 and not T=1 as previously published. It is also the first 3D virus structure to be solved in Africa. In collaboration with Dr Declan Schroeder (Marine Biological Association, UK), I have also been studying the structure and infection of the marine algae (Emiliania huxley)-infecting virus, Emiliania huxley virus type 86.
In collaboration with Profs Edward Rybicki (South Africa) and Anna-Lise Williamson (South Africa), I have worked on Human papillomavirus vaccines, use of virus particles as vaccine delivery systems and the production of the vaccines in plants.