Timothy Klein

NERC ARIES DTP-funded PhD student


In 2011, I completed a BSc in Biotechnology from the University of the Western Cape (UWC, South Africa) and it was during this time that I developed an interest in environmental microbiology. However, the following year, I went on to undertake a BSc. (Hons) degree in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Cape Town (South Africa). Under the supervision of Dr. Kurt Sales, I worked on a project aimed at exploring the role that bacterial STI’s play in regulating HIV susceptibility in women.

I decided to resume my environmental microbiology research trajectory in 2013, with a Masters’ in Biotechnology at the Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics (UWC, South Africa). Under the guidance of Prof. Marla Trindade, I worked on a project that aimed to discover novel antibiotics from bacteria associated with marine invertebrates. This project formed part of and contributed towards the goals of the EU funded research consortium ‘PharmaSea’.


I joined Dr. Lehtovirta’s team in late 2019, undertaking a project focussed on developing CRISPR-based genome engineering tools for the model ammonia oxidizing archaeal strains Nitrosocosmicus franklandus and Nitrosotalea sinensis Nd2.

Funding: This project is funded by the ARIES (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership.



Project context/background

Due to their role in nitrification, ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA) are key players in the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen. Consequently, AOA limit the amount of ammonia available for the assimilation by crops resulting in reduced food productivity. Furthermore, by-products of nitrification, nitrates and nitrous oxide have adverse environmental consequences due to their role in eutrophication and greenhouse gas emissions respectively.  Consequently, there is an urgent need to overcome these obstacles and mitigate the negative impacts of biological nitrification.

This requires an in-depth understanding of the archaeal ammonia oxidation pathway and the molecular mechanisms that facilitate AOA adaptation to their environments. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop genetic tools that will enable researchers better understand AOA molecular pathways in AOA which have the potential to improve agricultural management practices.


Timothy Klein

School of Biological Sciences

University of East Anglia

Norwich Research Park

Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

Email: T.klein@uea.ac.uk