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Group News

Jim Brewster Scholarship

Laura has recently received the Jim Brewster Scholarship, awarded to a School of Life Sciences PhD student in their second year of research working on crop improvement.

Dr. Brewster worked in the National Vegetable Research Station (NVRS) at Wellesbourne, from 1974 to 1990. He was a plant physiologist and was considered a worldwide expert in onions. His book 'Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums' is still a reference for many researchers.

To read more about the Jim Brewster, the scholarship and previous winners you can click here.
You can find information on Laura's project here.

Thur 1 Feb '24 | Scholarship

PhD Students Laura and Megan visit Professor Kim in Shanghai.

Through the BBSRC international partnering scheme Laura and Megan visited Professor Kim's laboratory in Shanghai from 10th to 25th October. Kim's group is based in the Chenshan Botanical Garden and their studies focus on Chloroplast physiology. Professor Kim obtained his PhD at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Before holding the position of Professor in Shanghai, he was a Senior Research Associate in ETH Zurich and Cornell University, USA.

"It was amazing to visit Kim's group and learn new techniques that will be definitely useful for my PhD project. The group expertise has given me exciting ideas for my future work! As well as being a great scientific opportunity it was a good moment to visit the city and try new food".

- Laura


"It was an exciting experience, we would like to thank Professor Kim and CAS center for hosting us during this period, as well as BBSRC for funding the collaboration".

- Megan

Fri 27 Oct '23 | Collaboration 

Group Presents Advances in Xanthomonas Disease Research at Elsoms Open Days

On the 11-12th October 2023 members of Murray Grant’s group attended the Elsoms Open days in Lincolnshire. The group showcased their research on Xanthomonas diseases of brassicas, maize, strawberry, and watercress with a focus on disease diagnostics and resistance breeding. It was a great opportunity to engage with industry and growers and many an interesting conversation was had around gene editing and sustainable disease control. A highlight was being able to see the huge diversity of vegetable varieties Elsoms offer, we even got to taste some at lunch – delicious!

Fri 20 Oct '23 | Open Day

Grant Group Attends BSPP Conference in Birmingham

From the 6-8th of September 2023, Murray, along with a cohort of PhD students and Postdoctoral Research Fellows from the University of Warwick, attended the British Society for Plant Pathology Conference in Birmingham. Murray gave a talk entitled Are we really CCin it all, or just TIRribly blinded? Cross-talk between plant disease resistance proteins. Highlights from the talk included work undertaken by PhD students Megan Lewis and Nestoras Kargios and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Alice Flint.

The group's work was also exhibited during the poster session, with research from Dr Laura Baxter, Laura Civolani, Megan Lewis, and Sara Abdelsayed on display.

Wed 13 Sep '23 | Conference

Post-Docs and PhDs attend the MBPP Early Careers Conference

Several members of the group attended this year's MBPP Early Career Meeting 2023, in Birmingham on the 5th of September. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Shannon Greer won one of the prizes available for her talk. Shannon presented her work researching Xanthomonas in Brassicas.

[I] had a great time meeting fellow ECRs and learning about their amazing plant pathology esearch at #MBPP23. Over the moon to have received a prize (and 🧢!!! ) for my oral presentation. Can’t wait for more great science at British Society for Plant Pathology.

- Dr Shannon Greer

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Ana Dominguez-Ferreras also gave a talk on her research on the Hpa effector localising to stress granules enhancing plant performance after heat treatment. PhD students Megan Lewis, Sara Abdelsayed and Research Fellow Dr Saïd El-Hassan all presented posters on their work.

Mon 11 Sep '23 | Conference

Murray and Laura attended the Chloroplast Biology Conference

PhD student Laura presented a poster on her research into chloroplast immunity at the Chloroplast Biology Conference in Zürich, in June (2023). While there, as well as sharing research, Laura managed to explore the local area and enjoy the warm weather.

It was a great opportunity to listen to great talks from experts in the field, learning new approaches and networking. I definitely recommend a short train journey to join the amazing view from Uetliberg

If you want to find out more about Laura's project, visit the group members page. If you want more information about the conference, view the organisers' website.

Mon 10 Jul '23 | Conference

Plant Health Week webinar for the Bacterial Plant Diseases Programme

The third annual National Plant Health Week has been running from 8-14th May. The week of action is designed to raise awareness and increase engagement in plant health. The week coincides with the FAO's International Day of Plant Health (12th May 2023).

As part of Plant Health Week (2023), Murray provided some background on Xanthomonas spp. and the potential impact of the pathogen, he also presented some of the Xanthomonas Threats research, including launching the new PhytoBacExplorer.

PhytoBacExplorer is under active development. The beta release contains a database for Xanthomonas with phylogenetics functionality, with plans to add more pathogens and functionality very soon.

You can find out more and watch other talks from the Bacterial Plant Diseases Programme webinar for National Plant Health Week here.

17 May '23 | Seminar

Nestoras and Laura Present at MIBTP Symposium

On 25th March, our PhD students Nestoras and Laura attended the MIBTP symposiumLink opens in a new window, at Harper Adams University - one of the 5 universities involved in the program.

Both presented part of their project: in particular Nestoras, 3rd-year student, gave a 3 minute talk “Pseudomonas syringae DC3000 effector HopAM1 reconfiguring ETI responses” and Laura, 2nd-year student, presented a poster “Chloroplast immunity: a neglected mechanism to enhance sustainable agriculture?”. It was an amazing opportunity to share their achievements and discuss their progress with all the cohort!

To find out more about the MIBTP PhD programme and the PhD projects they have available, click this link.

28 Mar '23 | Seminar

Laura, our PhD student, wrote an article entitled “Barley and lesion mimic mutants” in this month's issue of Biological Sciences Review.

Biological Sciences Review is a magazine that makes current research accessible to students, with articles from a wide range of biological disciplines with a particular focus on A-level related topics.

When I knew that Biological Sciences Review was looking for article proposals I decided to submit my idea, based on my Master‘s project on barley and lesion mimic mutants.” Laura said “it was really interesting writing an article for other students! I have managed to gain first-hand experience; I now appreciate how much work there is behind a publication of an article”.

7 Apr '23 | Feature

Xanthomonas researchers visit Ethiopia

In January, research Fellow Shannon and PhD student Sadik were hosted by the Southern Agricultural Research Institute in Hawassa, Ethiopia as part our Xanthomonas threats and emerging “tree” pathogen research themes.

Alongside Ethiopian collaborators, the pair collected samples and isolated DNA from Xanthomonas vasicola pv. musacearum (Xcc). Xcc causes Banana Xanthomonas Wilt and is a particularly big problem for the Ethiopian orphan crop, enset. Shannon and Sadik are aiming to sequence the DNA they collected in collaboration with the University of Exeter, FERA and, Southern Agricultural Research Institute.

28 Mar '23 | Feature

Previous News

Botanical University Challenge 2023

Botanical University Challenge (BUC) is an annual botany quiz established by Dr Jonathan Mitchley (University of Reading) and Professor Emeritus John Warren in 2021, with teams of university students from across the UK and Ireland competing for the title. There are four knockout rounds presented by “celebrity” guest chairs. In 2022 Warwick entered for the first time and, although the team didn’t win the quiz, they did win the best team name competition with “Pistils at Dawn”.

Warwick competed again this year (2023), represented by co-captains Jamie Pike (PhD Student, Grant Group) and Annabelle de Vries (PhD Student, Allaby Group), team members Stefania Luca (UG) and Richard Nakamura (PGT), and reserves Jemima Whiteway (UG) and Calista Kou (UG). They came 4th in the first round but were eliminated in round two, coming in 7th place. This year’s finals are part of the two-day student botany festival at the University of Nottingham, organised by the BUC planning team. The BUC covers all contestants' transport and accommodation costs!

16 Mar '23 | Feature

Retaining the ashes in the news

Watch Dr John Sidda discuss his research into ash dieback on BBC Midlands Today's Lunchtime News with David Gregory-Kumar below.

Some of this work was published in Scientific Reports: Diversity of secoiridoid glycosides in leaves of UK and Danish ash provide new insight for ash dieback management. Read more about retaining the ashes here.

28 Jan '21| Feature

A better way to 5 a day, an introduction to CRISPR

Have you always wondered how gene editing works and why it is worth a Nobel prize?

As part of the new Elizabeth Creak Horticultural Technology Centre launch, our PhD Student Megan Lewis has prepared a quick educational video explaining how the gene editing technology CRISPR can improve vegetable crops.

16 Feb '21 | Feature