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Professor John Walsh





Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0)2476 575028
WebLink: Plant-Virus Interactions Group

Research Interests

Plant viruses are a major constraint limiting crop production worldwide, particularly in underdeveloped regions. Withdrawal of pesticide active ingredients is likely to exacerbate problems in developed countries. Plant viruses are responsible for 47% of new/emerging infectious diseases of plants (fungi 30%, bacteria 16%).

Current Research Interests:

Our group has a diverse research programme ranging from fundamental research through translational to very applied research directly relevant to growers.

  • Plant - virus interactions, particularly Turnip mosaic virus - Brassica and Arabidopsis interactions
  • Identifying, characterising, mapping and understanding the mechanism of plant resistance genes and identifying their viral determinants with a view to developing durable resistance to potyviruses
  • Understanding virus - virus interactions in plants
  • Plant virus diversity
  • Plant - virus co-evolution in wild plants
  • Plant viruses transmitted by fungi and protists and the vectors themselves


John studied Applied Biology at Leeds University and then went on to a co-operative award PhD at Rothamsted Experimental Station (now Rothamsted Research) and Leeds University in Plant Pathology. During his PhD studies, John was awarded the Best Student Paper Award, from the Society of Nematologists at their meeting in Salt Lake City. This was followed by a Potato Marketing Board postdoctoral fellowship at Rothamsted. John joined HRI in 1983 and is currently group leader for the Plant Virus Interactions group. This group has a broad range of research projects from Applied, through Strategic to Fundamental, funded from a wide variety of sources. The underlying aim is to provide environmentally friendly sustainable disease control measures whilst at the same time reducing inputs.

John has served his field as a member of the Association of Applied Biologists, Virology Group Committee, secretary to the International Society for Horticultural Science, Vegetable Virus Working Group, SGM Virology Division Committee and NERC Peer Review College. He is also an editor for the Annals of Applied Biology and the European Journal of Plant Pathology. John is President Elect of the International Working Group for Legume and Vegetable Viruses.

John's group have had a number of products commercialised including germplasm possessing resistance genes to plant viruses and diagnostic reagents for detection of plant viruses and protists.

Research Projects

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Post Graduate Supervision

  • Brassicaceae - Turnip yellows virus interactions.
  • Deploying virus resistance in brassicas and understanding the interaction between the viral VPg protein and brassica eIF4E and eIF(iso)4E proteins.
  • The genetic control of resistance to Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) in Brassica.
  • Interaction of Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) with members of the Brassicaceae.
  • The biology and molecular biology of Polymyxa spp. and their interactions with plants and viruses.

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