Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Professor Jim Beynon





Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Host-Pathogen Interactions Group

Research Interests

PhD "Genetics of Rhizobium phaseoli", John Innes Institute, 1980

In 1990 I moved to Wye College and took the opportunity to move into research on the pathology of the then developing model plant Arabidopsis. In an ongoing collaboration with Eric Holub and Ian Crute at HRI I became involved in the cloning of disease resistance genes from Arabidopsis as the first step to understanding of disease resistance mechanisms in plants. To further cement this collaboration I joined HRI in 1997. We have published on the cloning of three such genes, all of which tell unique stories in terms of gene evolution and disease resistance mechanisms. One of these genes, RPP13, shows the greatest variation between alleles of any plant gene cloned to date and we believe it will become a key gene in understanding the evolution of resistance gene structure and function.

In order to progress further, however, it became clear to me that we needed to clone the genes in the pathogen that triggered the resistance response. Hence, together with Eric Holub and Ian Crute, we developed all the necessary tools to study the downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (formerly Peronospora parasitic). This was a major achievement as the organism is an oomycete, a little studied group of very serious pathogens, and is an obligate biotroph, meaning that it can only be cultured by growing on its host plant. We succeeded in cloning two pathogenicity effector genes from this pathogen and are in the process of analysing their role in the plant. This groundbreaking work was published in Science and Plant Cell.

Collaborations have always formed an important part of my research. A very important collaboration has been with Paul Birch at the James Hutton Institute (formerly SCRI), which have revealed some fascinating relationships between H. arabidopsidis and Phytopthora infestans (potato blight).

Then came bioinformatics. A collaboaration with Prof. Brett Tyler (VBI, USA) resulted in the sequencing of the H. arabidopsidis genome, which was published in Science in 2010. This wealth of information enabled us to identify a unique motif within effector proteins allowing over 130 putative effectors to be identified. Currently, my group is using the effector proteins as baits to identify their host targets. This is revealing a complex and highly interconnected network of proteins representing the immune interactome.

Since 2008, I have been leading a collaboration with colleagues in Warwick, Exeter and Essex Universities where we are using systems biology approaches to analyse plant stress responses. Using high resolution transcript profiling we are using mathematical techniques to predict networks of genes responding to biotic and abiotic challenges.

Integrating the transcriptional models and protein interaction networks is a key goal of my current research.


Chair, Executive Committte of the UKPSF and represents UKPSF on the GPC
Member, BBSRC/DEFRA Tree Health Panel
Fellow, The Society of Biology
Member, International Society for Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions
Member, British Society for Plant Pathology
Committee member, International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium (IAIC)
Member, Exeter University Systems Biology Advisory Board
Member, Scottish Crop Research Institute advisory group on plant pathogen research
External examiner since 2007, Nottingham University degree in Plant Sciences

Research Projects

View Current Projects        View All Projects


View All Publications

Post Graduate Supervision

  • Sarat Bimanadham is analysing the role of pathogen effector proteins in causing plant disease. Date of Completion:2011
  • Laura Lewis is analysing the effects of oomycete effector proteins on plant immunity regulatory networks. Date of Completion:2012
  • Sarah Harvey is studying how the plant immune network responds to pathogen attack using the Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis/ Arabidopsis interaction. Date of Completion:2013
  • Mary Coates carried out EST sequencing to identify candidate effector molecules from the oomycete Hyaloperonospora parasitica. These effectors along with putative effectors predicted from the genome sequence were mapped onto pathogen populations segregating for avirulence genes. Genetic maps were built around four avirulence loci, enabling a map-based cloning approach to be adopted. Date of Completion:2007
  • Linda Hughes began by carrying out bioinformatic analyses of the evolution of oomycete genomes. She then used Systems Biology approaches to analyse micro-array data. Date of Completion:2009
  • Using yeast two hybrid approaches, Sue Donovan is studying the host protein targets of oomycete pathogenicity effectors in Arabidopsis. Date of Completion:2010
  • Lucy Nott studied multi-gene resistance in Arabidopsis. She cloned a two component resistance locus (RPP2) from Arabidopsis chromosome 4 Date of Completion:2002
  • Laura Grenville mapped avirulence genes in Peronospora parasitica. She successfully defined the mapping interval of the ATR13gene Date of Completion:2003
  • Julia Meitz studied allelic variation in Peronospora parasitica effector molecules and assessed the conservation of such genes in strains of the pathogen that infect Brassica crops. Date of Completion:2008
  • Niaz Sepahvand has analysed a cDNA clone that appears to map near a previously uncharacterised disease resistance gene cluster in Arabidopsis. He has shown this to be the RPP28 gene for isolate specific recognition of P.parasitcia isolate Hind2 Date of Completion:2001
  • Anna Gordon analysed the complex disease resistance locus (RPP1) on chromosome 3 of Arabidopsis. She studied the function of the paralogues present and their evolutionary strategy Date of Completion:2002
  • Studied the effect of expressing bacterial chitinases and b-1,3-glucanses, in plants, on the development of fungal diseases in lettuce
  • Studied the interaction between Albugo candida and Arabidopsis thaliana. He showed that single dominant and recessive genes could make the plants resistant to the pathogen. He fine-scale mapped the location of the genes in the Arabidopsis genome and began the construction of a YAC contig across the region.
  • Hossein has continued Dr. Brose's work and has extended the analysis to great effect. He has mapped three resistance genes for Albugo resistance to different parts of the Arabidopsis genome. In addition he has identifed two other resistance genes that are unlinked to the three mapped genes. He has confirmed that one of these genes RAC2 is indeed recessive in nature. He has shown that the RAC resistance genes map to the same regions as we have previously mapped Peronospora resistance genes. Ph.D. awarded.

  • Update your user profile on Ideate


    See also

    Plant Response to Environmental STress in Arabidopsis

    Warwick Systems Biology Centre