Our Projects

  • Exploiting the immune system to tackle emerging filamentous diseases in tomato.

This project exploits the immune system of the tomato crop to enhance protection against emerging filamentous diseases. I  do this through priming the defence capacity of plants to prepare to respond faster and stronger against attackers. The ultimate goal of my project is to provide novel strategies that offer “one-step-ahead” solutions against the risks associated with devastating outbreaks of emerging diseases. This project is funded by my BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship.

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  • The effect of priming agents in the protection of tomato harvest against filamentous diseases

Tomato is a major crop world-wide and like other crops, substantial crop yields are lost to diseases.  Novel technique development is essential to achieve a competent and eco-friendly tomato industry.  Different priming agents are effective in inducing resistance against pathogens in tomato plants. However, little is known about whether these priming agents protects fruit during tomato post-harvest storage. This project studies whether treatment of tomato plants with priming agents result in a long-lasting induced resistance  in tomato fruit. This project is funded by my BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship and an iCASE MIBTP studentship to Katie Stevens.

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  • Understanding plant defence strategies in the arms race against Fusarium oxysporum.

Fusarium oxysporum is a devastating soil-borne pathogen that provokes vascular wilt in over a hundred field and greenhouse-grown crops both in industrialized and developing countries. Current methods of control of F. oxysporum depend on the extensive use of chemical pesticides, which is increasingly regarded as unsustainable. This project exploits the tomato’s immune system to provide a powerful source for future Integrated Disease Management of vascular fusariosis. This project is funded by a New Lecturer Award of the Rank Prize Fund.

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  • Resistance strategies of oak trees in the arms race with pathogen

This project studies how to maximise the oak tree defence capacity to provide broad-spectrum protection from pathogens, including the complex of bacteria that cause acute oak decline, and the fungal pathogen powdery mildew. With this work, we will identify practically useful markers that underpin an enhanced defensive capacity of trees capable of protection against a range of diseases. This project is funded by the JABBS Foundation.

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  • Priming in forest trees

My lectureship in Plant Pathology at the University of Birmingham is linked to the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research. From this position, I am develop cutting-edge research to provide novel strategies to secure tree resilience to diseases. BIFoR aims to address the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands. For this, we have a Free Air CO2 Enritchment (FACE) experiment running in the woodlands of Staffordshire. You can find all the information of BIFoR FACE here. I am currently applying for grants to fund research on priming in trees. Stay tuned!

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