Dr James Chong
Senior Lecturer

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2016 -  Royal Society Industry Fellow University of York
2011 - Senior Lecturer University of York 
2005 - 2011 Lecturer  University of York 
2005 - 2006

BYEF Fellow

University of York
2003 - 2005 David Phillips Fellow University of York
2000 - 2003 David Phillips Fellow University of Bath 
1997 - 2000

HFSP Fellowship

EMBO Fellowship

Cold Spring Harbor Lab

New York

1996 PhD ICRF
1992 BSc University of Manchester

Departmental roles

Member: Departmental Research Committee

Member: MAP Lab Steering Group

Member: Genomics Lab Steering Group 

University roles

Member: Marketing Advisory Steering Group




Methanogenic archaea are an increasingly economically important group of microorganisms. A series of unique biochemical pathways means that these microbes are able to synthesise methane, the flammable component of natural gas, from basic components such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen. On a global scale, methanogens are responsible for the synthesis of approximately a billion tonnes of methane per year. However, in addition to their potential to contribute to climate change, methanogens are also a key component in the decomposition of organic matter via anaerobic digestion (AD). Under controlled conditions, AD has the potential to produce substantial quantities of renewable energy from waste.

In collaboration with a range of industrial and academic partners, my group is investigating the dynamics of the microbial consortia involved in anaerobic digestion. We have developed a bench-scale anaerobic digester that allows us to accurately model the AD processes that occur on an industrial scale and perform metagenomic analysis of the anaerobic community as it adapts to new nutrient sources. We have commissioned an AD suite of four similar reactors with the Biorenewables Development Centre in York, that is equipped with analytical facilities to monitor the physico-chemical changes in these systems.

My lab also houses comprehensive facilities for the growth and genetic manipulation of methanogens. In addition to using these facilities for investigating the mechanisms underlying DNA replication using Methanococcus maripaludis as a model, we are pursuing the isolation, growth and characterisation of methanogens and other anaerobes from the environment. Most recently, this has included the isolation of novel anaerobes from seawater samples recovered from around Signy Island in Antarctica.


Biomethanisation of CO2 in anaerobic digestion plants

Research group(s)

PDRA Dr Anna Alessi Biomethanisation of CO2 in anaerobic digestion plants
PhD student James Robson Anaerobic digestion of difficult-to-digest feedstocks
MSc student Dr Farah Shahi Advanced Clinical Fellow
MSc student Nathan Innard Genetic tools for methanogens
MSc student Kim Barnes Analysing microbial communities




  • Biomethanisation of CO2 in anaerobic digestion plants (IB Catalyst, EPSRC, BBSRC)
  • Improving the commercial effectiveness of anaerobic digestion through molecular analysis (Royal Society)
  • Optimising AD (Yorkshire Water)
  • Can archaeal minichromosome maintenance helicases enhance the performance of a nanopore sequencer? (BBSRC)


Dr Kelly Redeker, Dr Michael Plevin (Biology, University of York)

Professor Jane Thomas-Oates, Dr Alison Parkin (Chemistry, University of York)

Dr Julie Wilson (Chemistry / Maths, University of York)

Mr Gavin Barlow (Hull-York Medical School)

Professor Charles Banks, Dr Yue Zhang, Dr Sonia Heaven (University of Southampton)

Professor Mohammad Pourkashanian, Dr William Nimmo, Dr Mark Walker (University of Sheffield)

Clearfleau Limited

Yorkshire Water

Oxford Nanopore Technologies

Available PhD research projects

Please email to discuss potential projects

Contact details

Dr James Chong
Senior Lecturer
Department of Biology (Area 5)
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 328628
Fax: 01904 328505