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Dr Matthew Davey

Senior Research Associate
Dr Matthew Davey

Matthew Davey is accepting applications for PhD students.

Matthew Davey is available for consultancy.

Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA
Office Phone: 01223 333943


Research Career

2013 – present: Post-Doctorate Research Associate, University of Cambridge, UK

  • EnAlgae (EU INTERREG IVB North West Europe programme)
  • Large scale cultivation and metabolic analysis of industrially relevant micro-algae

2009 – 2012: Post-Doctorate Research Associate, University of Cambridge, UK

  • Major-industry funded research on lipid productivity in algae for biodiesel production

2008-2009: Post-Doctorate Research Associate, University of Sheffield, UK

  • Wellcome Trust award to study variants of the pathogenic bacteria Campylobacter

2005-2008: Post-Doctorate Research Associate, University of Sheffield, UK

  • Investigated the mechanisms of distribution of plants growing at their range margin
  • Identified metabolic phenotypes of individual populations of Arabidopsis lyrata spp. petraea grown in controlled and field environments

2003-2004: Assistant Scientific Officer, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor, UK

  • Elemental and stable isotope analysis of field samples for C and N sequestration studies
  • Investigated metabolic variation in two natural systems; N deposition and uptake in upland grasslands and the elemental controls of leaf decomposition.

1999-2003: PhD in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry (NERC CASE studentship)

1Durham University, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham, UK
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Bangor, UK

  • Thesis title: The effect of an elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on secondary metabolism and resource allocation in Plantago maritima and Armeria maritima     

1995-1998: II (i) BSc. (Hons) Biology, University of Wales, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor, UK

  • Research Project: Effect of Nitrogen Oxides on Deschampsia flexuosa

University of Umeå, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå, Sweden (1997)


2013-present:   Graduate School of Life Sciences (University of Cambridge):

Introduction to metabolomics

2010 – present: Undergraduate lecturing (University of Cambridge):

I lecture in the ‘Frontiers in Plant Metabolism’ module for part II (year 3) undergraduates and in the Part IB (year 2) Cell and Developmental Biology practical course on organelle inheritance patterns in unicellular algae.

I also supervise Natural Science Tripos students for the part IA (year 1) Physiology of Organisms course and the part IB (year 2) Plant and Microbial Sciences course.

Current Academic Service

Committees and Memberships

2012-present: University of Cambridge, Departmental Representative – Carbon Reduction Board

2010 – present: Research Associate of Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

2009 - present: Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield

2007 – present: Plant Environmental Physiology Group (British Ecological Society) - secretary

2004 – present: British Ecological Society (BES) – Meetings Committee

1999 – present: Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) – British Ecological Society (BES)

Peer reviewing

Associate editor of Methods in Ecology and Evolution:

Associate editor of Conservation Physiology:

Associate editor of the International Journal of Life Sciences:


Plant Environmental Physiology Group (British Ecological Society) - secretary/steering committee

or join us on Facebook at:

2010 'Meet the algae' public video, University of Cambridge:


2009 - present: University of Sheffield, UK Co-supervising PhD student, Rachel George with Prof. Robert Freckleton: Metabolomics of coastal plants.

Research Interests

Dr Matt Davey is a plant physiologist and chemical ecologist at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge.  His key interests are in understanding the diversity of metabolism in natural ecosystems and controlled environments and how such knowledge can be translated for innovation purposes by collaborating with industrial partners involved in bioenergy and natural high value products. He has recently set up a new spin off company, Phytofutures, to expand into these markets.  Dr Davey is currently working on a large EU project (EnAlgae) to study algal growth in North West Europe and is overseeing the construction of a new Algal Innovation Centre at Cambridge University and has recent success in being awarded a number of business innovation and interaction grants from NERC and BBSRC and plant and algal bioenergy and technology.  He also collaborates with the British Antarctic Survey to study the growth and chemical composition of terrestrial algae and other plants within the Antarctic environment.

Key Publications

see Google Scholar


Lea-Smith DJ, Biller SJ, Davey MP, Cotton CAR, Sepulveda BMP, Turchyn AV, Scanlan DJ, Smith AG, Chisholm SW, Howe CJ. 2015. Contribution of cyanobacterial alkane production to the ocean hydrocarbon cycle. PNAS. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1507274112

Parker BM, Davey MP, Norman L, Schlarb-Ridley BG, Smith AG. 2015. Biomass from brine: Scale up of nitrate bioremediation experiments. European Journal of Phycology. 50: 142-143

Davey MP, Duong GH, Tomsett E, Litvinenko ACP, Howe CJ, Horst I, Smith AG. 2014. Triacylglyceride production and autophagous responses in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii depend on resource allocation and carbon source. Eukaryotic Cell. 13: 392-400

Howlett R, Davey MP, Quick WP, Kelly D. 2014. Metabolomic analysis of the food-borne pathogen: application of direct injection mass spectrometry for mutant characterization. Metabolomics 5: 887-896

Adesanya VO, Davey MP, Scott SS, Smith AG. 2014. Kinetic modelling of growth and storage molecule production in microalgae under mixotrophic and autotrophic conditions Bioresource Technology. 157: 293-304

Field K, George R, Fearn B, Quick WP, Davey MP. 2014. Subterranean photosynthetic activity and functional adaptation in the desert succulent Lithops aucampiae PloS one 8 (10), e75671

Brunetti C, George RM, Tattini M, Field K, Davey MP. 2013. Metabolomics in plant environmental physiology. Journal of Experimental Botany. 64: 4011–4020

Berg B, Liu C, Laskowski R, Davey MP. 2013. Relationships between nitrogen, acid-unhydrolyzable residue, and climate among tree foliar litters. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 43: 103-107.

Davey MP, Susanti N, Wargent J, Findlay J, Quick WP, Paul N, Jenkins G. 2012. The UV-B photoreceptor UVR8 promotes photosynthetic efficiency in Arabidopsis exposed to high levels of UV-B. Photosynthesis Research. 114: 121-131.

Vignolini S, Davey MP, Bateman RM, Rudall PJ, Moyroud E, Tratt J, Malmgren S, Steiner U, Glover BJ. 2012. The mirror crack’d: both pigment and structure contribute to the metallic blue appearance of the Mirror Orchid, Ophrys speculum. New Phytologist. 196: 1038-1047.

Bokhorst S, Bjerke JW, Davey MP, Taulavuori K, Taulavuori E, Laine K, Callaghan TV, Phoenix GK. 2010. Impacts of extreme winter warming events on plant physiology in a sub-Arctic heath community. Physiologia Plantarum. 140(2): 128-140.

Berg B, Davey MP, Emmett B, Faituri M, Hobbie S, Johansson MB, Liu C, De Marco A, McClaugherty C, Norell L, Rutigliano F, De Santo AV. 2010. Factors influencing limit values for pine needle litter decomposition - a synthesis for boreal and temperate pine forest systems. Biogeochemistry. 100: 57-73.

Lake JA, Field KJ, Davey MP, Beerling DJ, Lomax BH. 2009. Metabolomic and physiological responses reveal multi-phasic acclimation of Arabidopsis thaliana to chronic UV radiation. Plant Cell and Environment. 32: 1377-1389

Kunin WE, Vergeer P, Kenta T, Davey MP, Burke T, Woodward FI, Quick WP, Manerelli ME, Watson-Haigh NS, Butlin R. 2009. Variation at range margins across multiple spatial scales: environmental temperature, population genetics and metabolomic phenotype. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 1495-1506.

Davey MP, Woodward FI, Quick WP. 2009. Intraspecific variation in cold-temperature metabolic phenotypes of Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. petraeaMetabolomics 5: 138-149.

Davey MP, Burrell MM, Woodward FI, Quick WP. 2008. Population specific metabolic phenotypes of Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. petraea. New Phytologist 177(2). 380-388.

Davey MP, B Berg, P Rowland, BA Emmett. 2007. Decomposition of oak leaf litter is related to initial litter Mn concentrations. Canadian Journal of Botany. 85(1). 16-24.

Davey MP, H Harmens, TW Ashenden, R Edwards, R Baxter. 2007. Species-specific effects of elevated CO2 on resource allocation in Plantago maritima and Armeria maritima. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 35(3): 121-129.

Davey MP, DN Bryant, I Cummins, P Gates, TW Ashenden, R Baxter, R Edwards. 2004. Effects of elevated CO2 on the vasculature and phenolic secondary metabolism of Plantago maritima. Phytochemistry. 65. 2197-2204.


Reviews and Book Chapters

Howlett R, Davey MP, Kelly D. 2016. Direct injection electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry based analysis of isogenic mutant strains. Book Chapter.

Davey MP and Smith AG. 2013. Book review: Lipids in photosynthesis. Essential and regulatory functions. Annals of Botany. 111(2): viii-ix.

Davey MP. Metabolite identification, pathways and omic integration using online databases and tools. 2011. In:                 Handbook of Molecular Microbial Ecology:  Metagenomics and Complementary Approaches Ed. F de Bruijn. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 9780470644799

Davey MP. Plant environmental metabolomics. 2010. In: Metabolomics: Metabolites, Metabonomics and Analytical Technologies. Ed. Knapp JS and Cabrera WL. Nova Science Publishers. NY. ISBN-10: 1616680067

Scott SA, Davey MP, Dennis JS, Horst I, Howe CJ, Lea-Smith DJ, Smith AG. 2010. Biodiesel from algae: challenges and prospects. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 21(3):277-86.

Bundy JG, Davey MP, Viant, MR. 2009. Environmental Metabolomics: A Critical Review and Future Perspectives. Metabolomics 5: 3-21.

Morrison N, Bearden D, Bundy JG, Collette T, Currie F,  Davey MP,  et. al. 2007. Standard Reporting Requirements for Biological Samples in Metabolomics Experiments: Environmental Context. Metabolomics 3: 203-210.

 Proceedings and other publications:

2016: EnAlgae publications on Algal Biomass LCA, SOP and Best Practice.

Haigh NS, Davey MP, Quick WP, Westhead D. 2008. BigRedBin: A Web-Based Tool for Metabolomics Data Reduction Through Peak Identification and Binning

Davey MP. 2004. PhD thesis. The effect of an elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on secondary metabolism and resource allocation in Plantago maritima and Armeria maritima. ISBN/EAN: 9783639230604

Emmett BA., Jones MLM, Jones H, Wildig J, Williams B, Davey M, Carroll Z, Healey M. 2004. Grazing/nitrogen deposition interactions in upland acid moorland. Report. Welsh Office Contract No. 182-2002.

Davey MP. 2005. Metabolite fingerprinting of plants at range margins. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A Supplement. 141(3): S288. P7.83

Davey MP. 2002. Carbon and nitrogen partitioning in the coastal plants Plantago maritima and Armeria maritima: substrate availability, secondary metabolism and plant survival in a changing environment. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 132 S173-S180.

Doggart N, Joseph L, Bayliss J, Fanning E. 1999 Manga Forest Reserve: A biodiversity survey. East Usambara  Conservation Area Management Programme, Tanzania. ISBN: 9987-646-04-2

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