Key Research Interests and Expertise

Despite significant advances in plant breeding and agriculture (such as the ‘Green Revolution’) there is still a major challenge to reduce crop losses that result from diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes. The Norwich Research Park has a world class reputation in the study of molecular plant pathology. It is hoped that a greater understanding of the molecular interactions that control pathogen infection will have direct applications in creating disease resistant crops.

My lab-based research career was focused on the molecular interactions between plants and their pathogens (particularly fungi and viruses), together with the genetic organisation and evolution of plant disease resistance gene loci. This research utilised several model plant-pathogen interactions to determine the genetic and molecular basis of resistance to pathogen infection using primarily the interaction between tomato and the leaf mold pathogen Cladosporium fulvum.

In collaboration with Dr Mark Stevens at the British Beet Research Organisation we have also studied the interaction between the economically important luteoviruses and their hosts, including sugar beet and oilseed rape. In the case of Beet Mild Yellows Virus (BMYV- which causes significant losses to the UK sugar beet crop) we have used the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to identify host genes required for BMYV infection. We have also studied Turnip Yellows Virus which causes significant yield losses in UK oilseed rape. 

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