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Professor Eric Holub



Phone: 024 765 75163

Office (W): PPB1.27

Office (GH): B009 

Research Clusters

Plant & Agricultural Bioscience

Environment & Ecology

Warwick Centres and GRPs

Food GRP

Warwick Institute of Engagement

Vacancies and Opportunities

For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Research Interests

Professor Holub is a geneticist, systems-thinker and a fellow of Warwick Institute of Engagement. He applies his experience to genetic improvement of food crops and public access to affordable food diversity. Recently, he has been selecting Meso-american crops for UK production including common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and herbs. The aim is to enable a food system that better serves public health using seed, soil and British sunshine.

The UK is a nation of bean and tomato eaters-- served for example on toast or jacket potato. With this in mind, Professor Holub is working to establish new varieties of our favourite pulse, the common bean, for cooking with other home-grown ingredients. Provenance, convenience and versatility are key, especially knowing that all of ingredients in a commercial tin of navy beans in tomato sauce are imported. Thus, National Listing was obtained for three bean varieties: Capulet (looks like an imported navy bean), Godiva (a novel blonde kidney-like bean) and Olivia (an oval black bean).

Participatory research with consumers was launched in Coventry for the 2019 British Science Festival [For more information see:]. In February 2023, he registered a company (Nurtural Limited) with five co-directors which will transition into a social enterprise with a mission of 'connecting Ambassadors of Change (from kitchens and gardens and farms) for rejuvenating food environments in every community.'

Research: Technical Summary

The Phaseolus bean breeding programme at UofW has used conventional methods, dating back to the inventor of genetics Gregor Mendel. Molecular genetic characterisation of major alleles for important traits has been a focus, for example, recessive alleles for bacterial and viral resistance have been identified (which are priority markers for durable disease resistance). These will be useful for future accelerated whole genome selection. Genetic transformation is not currently possible in P. vulgaris so gene editing and genetic modification are not realistic options for genetic improvement of this legume crop.

In earlier genetics research, Prof Holub developed tetraploid alfalfa with multi-genic resistance to a root-rotting complex of oomycete pathogens, which has since had major impact in the US dairy industry by improving resilience under harsh winter and wet soil conditions of a high protein perennial forage legume. He moved to the UK and quickly established Arabidopsis thaliana as an experimental system to investigate the molecular basis of resistance to natural parasites. This work generated seminal publications with international collaborators on R-gene mediated resistance, defense signaling and pathogen avirulence. He shifted research to a crop pathogen (Albugo candida causing brassica white rust) for genetic dissection of non-host resistance in A. thaliana. This revealed multiple defense layers, including a receptor-like gene WRR4 with potential use for broad-spectrum resistance in transgenic brassica crops. Parallel research on white rust in brassicas was advanced with DEFRA and BBSRC funding (BB/L011646/1). The later linked collaborative research with scientists in India on oilseed mustard (B. juncea) to UK production of English mustard, in which white rust is an emerging climate related disease.

  • 2005-date: Professor of translational plant genetics, University of Warwick
  • 2021-date: Fellow of Warwick Institute of Engagement
  • 2013-2021: Director of undergraduate biochemistry programme, Life Sciences
  • 2002-2004: Research unit leader, Horticulture Research International- Wellesbourne
  • 1998-2001: Group leader, HRI-Wellesbourne.
  • 1994-1997: Higher scientific officer, HRI-East Malling & Wellesbourne
  • 1990-1993: AFRC-PMB1 postdoctoral researcher, HRI-East Malling
  • 1988-1989: Pathology consultant for alfalfa breeding companies
  • 1988: PhD (Plant pathology and plant breeding), University of Wisconsin-Madison