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Professor Jim Beynon

Job Title
Life Sciences
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

  • Allen, R., Baxter, Laura, Baumber, R., Bittner-Eddy, P., Coates, M., Fisher, K., Hall, S., Hughes, Linda Karen, Lee, S., Meitz, J., Rehmany, A., Rose, L., Beynon, Jim, 2007. The pathogenicity effectors of Hyaloperonospora parasitica. 2007 APS Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, July 28 - August 1, 2007, Published in Phytopathology, pp. S146-S146
  • Coates, Mary E., Beynon, Jim, 2010. Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis as a pathogen model. Annual Review of Phytopathology, Annual Reviews, pp. 329-345
  • Bastow, Ruth, Beynon, Jim, Estelle, Mark, Friesner, Joanna, Grotewold, Erich, Lavagi, Irene, Lindsey, Keith, Meyers, Blake, Provart, Nicholas, Benfey, Philip, Birney, Ewan, Braun, Pascal, Brendel, Volker, Buell, Robin, Caccamo, Mario, Carrington, Jim, Cherry, Mike, Ecker, Joseph, Eppig, Janan, Forster, Mark et al (Select to open full list), 2010. An international bioinformatics infrastructure to underpin the Arabidopsis community. Plant Cell, American Society of Plant Biologists, pp. 2530-2536
  • Haas, Brian J., Kamoun, Sophien, Zody, Michael C., Jiang, Rays H. Y., Handsaker, Robert E., Cano, Liliana M., Grabherr, Manfred, Kodira, Chinnappa D., Raffaele, Sylvain, Torto-Alalibo, Trudy, Bozkurt, Tolga O., Ah-Fong, Audrey M. V., Alvarado, Lucia, Anderson, Vicky L., Armstrong, Miles R., Avrova, Anna, Baxter, Laura, Beynon, Jim, Boevink, Petra C., Bollmann, Stephanie R. et al (Select to open full list), 2009. Genome sequence and analysis of the Irish potato famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Nature, Nature Publishing, pp. 393-398
Title Funder Award start Award end
GARNet: Genomic Arabidopsis Research Network and MASC BBSRC 01 Dec 2009 31 Jan 2015
What are the roles of oomycete RxLR effectors in the establishment of plant disease BBSRC 01 Apr 2009 31 Mar 2014
BSPP summer research student 2013 British Society for Plant Pathology 01 Jun 2013 30 Sep 2013
Elucidating Signalling Networks in Plant Stress Responses - SABR 1 BBSRC 07 Apr 2008 06 Apr 2013
BSPP Undergraduate Vacation Bursary for Lorna Cox British Society for Plant Pathology 02 Jul 2012 02 Sep 2012
Agronomics - Integrated Project EU 01 Apr 2007 31 Mar 2011
Analysis of the RPP13/ATR13 interaction complex between downy mildew and arabidopsis. BBSRC 10 Jul 2007 09 Jul 2010
International Scientific Interchange Scheme: Future of Arabidopsis Informatics US Workshop BBSRC 09 May 2010 13 May 2010
Understanding host plant susceptibility and resistance by indexing and displaying obligate pathogen effectors BBSRC 01 Apr 2007 31 Mar 2010
Investigating the role of ATR1 in pathogenicity BBSRC 01 Apr 2006 31 Mar 2009
Sequencing of the Peronospora Parasitica BBSRC 01 May 2005 30 Apr 2008