Dr Ben Gregson

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Life Sciences
Research Supervision:

Ben is a molecular ecologist with diverse research interests, but currently all centred around the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) paired with next generation DNA sequencing to determine the biodiversity and function within environmental samples.

[email protected]

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Ben joined ARU in October 2023. He is a member of the Biomedical Research Group.

From 2019-2020 Ben held two Research Officer positions at the University of Essex. In the first position, he used DNA sequencing to look at the biological and agricultural quality of harvested rainwater collected in water harvesting ponds used by rural smallholder farmers in Kenya. During the second position, he investigated the interaction of oil hydrocarbons with marine snow, the aggregation of organic and inorganic particles in the ocean, which sink through the water column and deposit on the seabed.

From 2020-2023 he held two Senior Research Officer positions, also at the University of Essex. In the first position, he used DNA sequencing to look at the biodiversity within urban soils compared to natural and agricultural soils. In the second position, he looked at the impact of offshore man-made structures, such as oil and gas platforms and wind turbines, on the surrounding benthic habitats.

Research interests

Ben's three research areas of interest are related to:

  • The biodegradation of pollutants in marine environments, in particular hydrophobic pollutants like hydrocarbons, microplastics, nanoparticles and how they interact with marine snow.
  • Antimicrobial resistance in the environment, what drives the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or genes and developing mitigation strategies to reduce it
  • Soil ecology and management, how we can apply DNA sequencing to ensure sustainable agricultural practices, support horticulture in urban environments and understand plant-soil interactions
Areas of research supervision

Ben welcomes applications from undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in carrying out research projects in molecular biology, ecology, and microbiology.


General Microbiology (MOD002742)


PhD in Environmental Microbiology, University of Essex

BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science, University of Essex

Memberships, editorial boards

Member of the British Ecological Society (BES), Applied Microbiology International (AMI), British Mycological Society (BMS) and the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI).

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

2023: British Mycological Society Research Grant (PI), “Internal transcribed spacer (ITS) primer evaluation for fungal metabarcoding in soils” - £9507.59

2022: NERC Environmental Omics Facility Pilot Genomics Competition (Co-I), “EEDAM: Exploring the Ecological Dynamics of Anti-Microbial resistance through a drinking water treatment plant”- £11,756.69

2022: NERC Aries DTP Undergraduate Research Experience Placement (PI), “Evaluating impact of marine hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms and chemical dispersants in mitigating oil-spill environmental damage” - £3,812

2021: NERC Environmental Omics Facility Pilot Genomics Competition (Co-I), “Determine the drivers of pathogen and AMR occurrence in SSA water-harvesting systems to inform the design of interventions strategies” - £6,876.72

Selected recent publications

Gregson, B. H. et al. (2022) ‘Anaerobes and methanogens dominate the microbial communities in water harvesting ponds used by Kenyan rural smallholder farmers’, Science of The Total Environment. Elsevier, 819, p. 153040. doi: 10.1016/J.SCITOTENV.2022.153040.

Bani, A. et al. (2022) ‘Mind the gaps: What do we know about how multiple chemical stressors impact freshwater aquatic microbiomes?’, Advances in Ecological Research. Academic Press, 67, pp. 331–377. doi: 10.1016/BS.AECR.2022.09.003.

Thomas, G. E. et al. (2021) ‘Effects of Dispersants and Biosurfactants on Crude-Oil Biodegradation and Bacterial Community Succession’, Microorganisms. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 9(6), p. 1200. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9061200.

Gregson, B. H. et al. (2021) ‘Marine Oil Snow, a Microbial Perspective’, Frontiers in Marine Science. Frontiers, 8, p. 11. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.619484.

Thomas, G. E. et al. (2020) ‘Bacterial Community Legacy Effects Following the Agia Zoni II Oil-Spill, Greece’, Frontiers in Microbiology. Frontiers, 11, p. 542368. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01706.

Gregson, B. H. et al. (2020) ‘Protein expression in the obligate hydrocarbon-degrading psychrophile Oleispira antarctica RB-8 during alkane degradation and cold tolerance’, Environmental Microbiology. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14956.

Gregson, B. H. et al. (2019) ‘Differential protein expression during growth on linear versus branched alkanes in the obligate marine hydrocarbon-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2T’, Environmental Microbiology, 21(7). doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14620.

Gregson, B. H. et al. (2018) ‘Differential Protein Expression During Growth on Medium Versus Long-Chain Alkanes in the Obligate Marine Hydrocarbon-Degrading Bacterium Thalassolituus oleivorans MIL-1.’, Frontiers in microbiology. Frontiers Media SA, 9, p. 3130. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03130.