Dr David Dowling

BA(Mod) PhD

Head of Faculty of Science

Faculty of Science Office, Carlow Campus
e: dowlingd@setu.ie      t: 059 9175507
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6952-5495
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  • Research Interests
  • Publications
  • Research Supervision
  • Engagement and Collaboration

Research Interests

Dr David Dowling is the Head of Faculty of Science at SETU Carlow and is research active in the area of Environmental microbiology/biotechnology.

I was employed as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Cologne, Germany, the University of Geneva Switzerland and the Federal Institute of Biotechnology, Germany, before moving to University College Cork in 1990 as a senior research scientist. I joined SETU Carlow in 1996 as a lecturer in biotechnology. My research has been funded by EU, National and Industrial sources and in the last 10 years I have raised almost 2 million euro in research funding at SETU Carlow. I was a member of the EU Cost programme management committee (Cost FA849 and FA1103) on Phytotechnolgies and I have experience of co-coordinating EU projects.  My research interests are in plant-microbe interactions and their applications for bioremediation of pollutants and sustainable agriculture. My current focus is on endophytic bacteria and their function as part of the plant and soil microbiota. In addition, I have an interest in the application of digital technologies relating to undergraduate science laboratory practical teaching/assessment. (see TEAM)


I have 25 years of experience in the area of biodegradation as well as plant-microbe interactions with over 70 publications in refereed international scientific publications and over 160 conference papers, three patents and I have edited a number of books in the area of environmental biotechnology.

Recent Publications are listed below. For a full list of publications see here

Recent Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Lally R. D., Galbally P., Moreira A. S., Spink J., Ryan D., Germaine K. J., Dowling D. N. (2017). Application of Endophytic Pseudomonas fluorescens and a Bacterial Consortium to Brassica napus Can Increase Plant Height and Biomass under Greenhouse and Field Conditions.  Frontiers in Plant Science :8 , 2193 https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpls.2017.02193 DOI=10.3389/fpls.2017.02193.

Rathore,R., Dowling, DN., Forristal ,PD., Spink, J., Cotter,PD., Bulgarelli,D., Germaine, KJ. (2017) Crop Establishment Practices are a Driver of the Plant Microbiota in Winter Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus). Frontiers in Microbiology doi:103389/fmicb.2017.01489.

Smullen, E., Finan, JM., Dowling,DN., Mulcahy,P. (2017) Bioconversion of Switchgrass: Identification of a Leading Pretreatment Option Based on Yield, Cost and Environmental Impact .  Renewable Energy 111:638-645.

Moreira, AS. Germaine, KJ, Lloyd, A, Lally, RD, Galbally, PT, Ryan, D, Dowling, DN  (2016) Draft Genome Sequence of Three Endophyte Strains of Pseudomonas fluorescens Isolated from Miscanthus giganteus Genome Announcements 4(5):965-981 · DOI: 10.1128/genomeA.00965-16 

Liu,X, Kiwanuka,S, Cleary, K, Ryan, D, Dowling,DN, Germaine KJ (2016) Use of Ecopiling to remediate PAH-Contaminated Storm-water Lagoon Sediment. . J Bioremed.Biodeg. 7:4 DOI: 10.4172/2155-6199.1000355

Otieno,N., Lally,RD, Kiwanuka,S., Lloyd,A., Ryan,D., Germaine,KJ., and Dowling, DN, (2015)    Plant      growth promotion       induced           by        phosphate       solubilizing endophytic Pseudomonas isolates. Frontiers in Microbiology doi; 10.33 89/fmicb.20 15.00745

Germaine, KJ, Byrne, J., Liu, X., Keohane, J., Culhane, J, Lally RD., Kiwanuka, S., Ryan, D., and Dowling, DN (2015) Ecopiling: a combined phytoremediation and passive biopiling system for remediating hydrocarbon impacted soils at field scale. Frontiers in Plant Science doi: 10.33 89/fpls.2014.00756.

Book Chapters

Chabbra, S. and Dowling, DN (2017) Endophyte-promoted Nutrient Acquisition : Phosphorous and Iron. In: Doty, SL, ed.  Functional Importance of the Plant Microbiome; Implications for Agriculture, Forestry and Bioenergy pp21-42. Springer. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-65897-1

Research Supervision

Current Research Students

John Byrne

Constructed wetlands treating high impact wastewaters; a modelling approach to design and function


Ridhdhi Rathore

Investigation of the microbiota of Brassica napus in response to different tillage practice


Sandra Bohan

Developing biomarkers for detecting stress in farmed fish.

Mentor /Co-Supervisor

Past Research Students

Emma Smullen

Coordinated development of leading biomass pretreatment technologies for the generation of bioethanol from Irish crops

PhD  -2017


Richard Lally

Investigating the application, plant growth promotion and genetic potential of three endophytic Pseudomonas fluorescens isolates for use in sustainable agriculture

PhD  -2016


John Culhane

Investigation of plant growth promotion endophytic isolates as microbial inoculants for application in the bioremediation of oil contaminated soil

PhD  -2016


Nicholas Otieno

Development of plant growth promotion endophytic isolates as microbial inoculants for practical application in

PhD -2015


Sagar Chhabra

bioenergy plant specie-Soil metagenome analysis and bacterial ecology of a low-input tillage agroecosystem



Clare Menton

Microbiology of Bioenergy crops;pathogen fate and bioremediation enhancement



Edwina Brennan

Purification and genetic analysis of a specific glutathione transferase (BphK LB400) involved in the detoxification of PCBs



Elaine Keogh

The isolation and characterisation of bacterial endophytes and their potential applications for improving phytoremediation



Xuemei Liu

Development and application of biosensor technologies for the biodegradation of environmental pollutants



Kieran Germaine

Construction of endophytic xenobiotic degrader bacteria for improving the phytoremediation of organic pollutants



Guio Garcia- Cabellos

Investigating the microbiology of constructed wetlands



Jill Hogan

The monitoring of a prokaryotic bioremediation system in PCB contaminated soil and their in situ quantification



Robert Ryan

The generation and molecular analysis of multiresistant microbial strains and associated operons for the bioremediation of toxic metals



Niamh Gilmartin

Biodegradation of PCBs: Characterisation of aRhodococcus strain



Orla Sherlock

A molecular based detection system for PCB degrading Pseudomonas and isolation of variants of the bphC gene



Clare Whelan

Construction and analysis of GM bacteria with re-regulated expression of bph genes



Finola Flannery

Characterisation of soil bacteria with biocontrol potential



Engagement and Collaboration

I am a co-founder of MicroGen Biotech. Ltd, and an active member of EnviroCore a strategic research unit dedicated to the application of environmental biotechnology research at SETU Carlow. In addition I have been involved in supporting regional enterprises through the innovation voucher scheme. I have an extensive network of international collaborators both Academic and Industrial.