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Professor Jim Beynon: Host-pathogen Interactions Group

Jim Beynon

Professor Jim Beynon
Host-Pathogen Interactions Group Leader

School of Life Sciences
Stratford campus
Tel: 024 7657 5141


Meet The Team

Professor Jim Beynon Group Leader
Dr Jens Steinbrenner Post-doc
Dr Daniel Tome Post-doc
Mrs Rachel Clewes Technician

Miss Sarah Harvey

Mrs Tina Payne



Miss Mary Tetlow PhD student  

Current Research Projects

Current Projects

  • What are the roles of oomycete RxLR effectors in the establishment of plant disease (BBSRC)
  • The Contribution of Phytophthora effectors to host range and non-host resistance

The Downy Mildew/Arabidopsis Interaction

Crop plants are under constant threat from infectious disease which result in large yield losses. To combat this plant breeders make use of naturally occurring resistance genes that prevent specific strains of the disease from invading. The only alternative to this is the use of chemicals to prevent the disease from developing. My programme of work is aimed at reaching a fundamental understanding of the mechanism of plant resistance and the methods used by the pathogen to overcome that resistance. Through this understanding we aim to reveal new routes to provide novel sources of genetic resistance to plant breeders and reveal new targets for the development of new agrochemicals.


Arabidopsis is a remarkable plant that has seen massive investment over the past decade in an attempt to understand how plants work. To this end the whole genome has been sequenced revealing all the genes present in a plant for the first time. This has lead to the development of many tools with which to analyse their function. We have cloned several disease resistance genes from Arabidopsis. These genes vary greatly in structure between different accessions of Arabidopsis. This suggests that these genes are under pressure to change their structure in order to recognise pathogen proteins that are changing to avoid detection. This variation is akin to an "arms race" between host and pathogen.

Jim Beynon with Arabidopsis

Professor Beynon with a flowering Arabidopsis plant

peronospora on Arabidopsis

The underside of a downy mildew infected Arabidopsis plant

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew is a naturally occurring disease of Arabidopsis that can be found on plants growing in the wild in the UK and around the world. It is related to highly destructive crop disease such as potato blight and a new disease of trees. We have developed this as a model system with which to study how these organisms invade their hosts. We are leading an international project to sequence the genome of this pathogen to identify the genes the pathogen uses to suppress the defence mechanisms of Arabidopsis.

Using genetic approaches we have cloned several pathogen genes that trigger host resistance. Once again these are highly variable proteins confirming that an "arms race" is indeed in progress between host and pathogen. We have identified structures in these proteins that are similar to structures found in proteins in the malaria parasites that allow these proteins to enter mammalian blood cells. This suggests that plant and human pathogens have similar mechanisms for targeting their pathogenicity proteins into their host cells.

Selected Publications

  • Daniel J. Gibbs, Nurulhikma Md Isa, Mahsa Movahedi, Jorge Lozano-Juste, Guillermina M. Mendiondo, Sophie Berckhan, Nora Marín-de la Rosa, Jorge Vicente Conde, Cristina Sousa Correia, Simon P. Pearce, George W. Bassel, Bulut Hamali, Prabhavathi Talloji, Daniel F.A. Tomé, Alberto Coego, Jim Beynon, David Alabadí, Andreas Bachmair, José León, Julie E. Gray, Frederica L. Theodoulou, Michael J. Holdsworth (2014) 'Nitric Oxide Sensing in Plants Is Mediated by Proteolytic Control of Group VII ERF Transcription Factors', Molecular Cell.
  • McLellan, Hazel., Boevink, Petra C., Armstrong, Miles R., Pritchard, Leighton., Gomez, Sonia., Morales, Juan., Whisson, Stephen C., Beynon, Jim L., Birch, Paul R. J. (2013) 'An RxLR Effector from Phytophthora infestans Prevents Re-localisation of Two Plant NAC Transcription Factors from the Endoplasmic Reticulum to the Nucleus ', PLoS Pathogens, 9 (10), e1003670.
  • Volkan Cevik; Brendan N Kidd; Peijun Zhang; Claire Hill; Steve Kiddle; Katherine J Denby; Eric B Holub; David M Cahill; John M Manners; Peer M Schenk; Jim Beynon; Kemal Kazan (2012) 'MED25 Acts as an Integrative Hub for the Regulation of Jasmonate-Responsive Gene Expression in Arabidopsis', Plant Physiology, 160 (1), 541 - 555.
  • Birch, Paul R.J., Coates, Mary E., Beynon, Jim L. (2012) 'Evolution of virulence in oomycete plant pathogens', in Evolution of virulence in eukaryotic microbes, 387- 403, Editors: Sibley L. David., Howlett, Barbara J., Heitman, Joseph., Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Kate Bailey, Volkan Çevik, Nicholas Holton, Jane Byrne-Richardson, Kee Hoon Sohn, Mary Coates, Alison Woods-Tör, H. Murat Aksoy, Linda Hughes, Laura Baxter, Jonathan D. G. Jones, Jim Beynon, Eric B. Holub, and Mahmut Tör3(2011) 'Molecular Cloning of ATR5Emoy2 from Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis, an Avirulence Determinant That Triggers RPP5-Mediated Defense in Arabidopsis ' Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 24 (7), 827 - 838.
  • Baxter, L., Tripathy, S., Ishaque, N., Boot, N., Cabral, A., Kemen, E., Thines, M., Ah-Fong, A., Anderson, R., Badejoko, W., Bittner-Eddy, P., Boore, J. L., Chibucos, M. C., Coates, M., Dehal, P., Delehaunty, K., Dong, S., Downton, P., Dumas, B., Fabro, G., Fronick, C., Fuerstenberg, S. I., Fulton, L., Gaulin, E., Govers, F., Hughes, L., Humphray, S., Jiang, R. H. Y., Judelson, H., Kamoun, S., Kyung, K., Meijer, H., Minx, P., Morris, P., Nelson, J., Phuntumart, V., Qutob, D., Rehmany, A., Rougon-Cardoso, A., Ryden, P., Torto-Alalibo, T., Studholme, D., Wang, Y., Win, J., Wood, J., Clifton, S. W., Rogers, J., Van den Ackerveken, G., Jones, J. D. G., McDowell, J. M., Beynon, J. and Tyler, B. M.(2010) 'Signatures of adaptation to obligate biotrophy in the hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis genome' Science 330 (6010), 1549 - 1551.
  • Coates, M. E. and Beynon, J. L.(2010) 'Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis as a pathogen model' Annual Review of Phytopathology 48 329 - 345.
  • Haas BJ, Kamoun S, Zody MC, et al. (2009). Genome sequence and analysis of the Irish potato famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Nature, 461 393 - 398.
    • Sharon A. Hall, Rebecca l. Allen, Rachel E. Baumber, Laura A. Baxter, Kate Fisher, Peter D. Bittner-Eddy, Laura E. Rose, Eric B. Holub and Jim L. Beynon (2009). 'Maintenance of genetic variation in plants and pathogens involves complex networks of gene-for-gene interactions', Molecular Plant Pathology, 10 449 - 457.
    • Allen RL, Meitz JC, Baumber RE, Hall SA, Lee SC, Rose, LE and Beynon JL (2008). 'Natural variation reveals key amino acids in a downy mildew effector that alters recognition specificity by an Arabidopsis resistance gene.', Molecular Plant Pathology, 9 511 - 523.
    • Birch P R J, Rehmany A P, Pritchard L, Kamoun S, Beynon J L (2006). 'Trafficking Arms: Oomycete Effectors Enter Host Plant Cells', Trends In Microbiology, 14 8 - 11.
    • Brett M. Tyler, Sucheta Tripathy, et al. (2006). 'Phytophthora Genome Sequences Uncover Evolutionary Origins and Mechanisms of Pathogenesis.', Science, 313 1261 - 1266.
    • Armstrong M R, Whisson S C, Pritchard L, Jorunn I B Bos, Venter E, Avrova A O, Rehmany A P, Bohme U, Brooks K, Cherevach I, Hamlin N, White B, Fraser A, Lord A, Quail M A, Churcher C, Hall N, Berriman M, Huang S, Kamoun S, Beynon J L and Birch P R J (2005) 'An ancestral oomycete locus contains late blight avirulence gene Avr3a, encoding a protein that is recognised in the host cytoplasm', Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences (USA), 102 7766 - 7771.
    • Rehmany A P, Gordon A, Rose L E, Allen R L, Armstrong M R, Whisson S C, Kamoun S, Tyler B M, Birch P R J and Beynon J L. (2005) 'Differential recognition of highly divergent downy mildew avirulence gene alleles by RPP1 resistance genes from two Arabidopsis lines', The Plant Cell, 17 1839 - 1850.
    • Allen R L, Bittner-Eddy P D, Grenville-Briggs L J, Meitz J C, Rehmany A P, Rose L E and Beynon J L. (2004) 'Host-parasite co-evolutionary conflict between Arabidopsis and downy mildew', Science, 306 1957 - 1960.
    • Sinappidou E, Williams K, Bahkt S, Tor M, Crute I R, Bittner-Eddy P D, Beynon J L (2004) 'The RPP2 locus of Arabidopsis accession Col-5 contains at least two genes required for isolate specific recognition of peronospora parasitica isolate Cala2', Plant Journal, The, 38 898 - 909.
    • Rose L E, Bittner-Eddy P D, Langley C H, Holub E B, Michelmore R W, Beynon J L (2004) 'The maintenance of extreme amino acid diversity at the disease resistance gene, RPP13, in Arabidopsis thaliana', Genetics, 166 1517 - 1527.