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AHDB Horticulture Fellowship in Plant Pathology

AHDB logo Reports by the Royal Society and the British Society for Plant Pathology amongst others have highlighted the loss of skills in some areas of agricultural research including plant pathology. The HDC are helping to respond to this need through their Fellowship scheme in order to provide "essential underpinning funding for UK-based horticultural applied researchers working in fields of study crucial to the future efficiency and competitiveness of horticultural crops grown in Britain". Through Dr John Clarkson, the Warwick Crop Centre was awarded a 5 year HDC Fellowship in 2013 to 'maintain and develop capability in vegetable crop pathology'. The award is match-funded by the School of Life Sciences and is being used to train and mentor Dr Andrew Taylor with particular emphasis on molecular approaches.
Andrew Taylor

Andy began his studies at the University of Nottingham (Sutton Bonington campus) obtaining a BSc with honours in Applied Biology followed by an MSc in Biosciences. Following that, he obtained a PhD from the University of Warwick in 2009 on the genetics of photoperiodic bulb initiation in onion and then worked on the DEFRA-funded VeGIN project to identify new sources of resistance to Fusarium basal rot of onion. This work led to the current BBSRC HAPI project on exploiting next generation sequencing technologies to understand pathogenicity and resistance in Fusarium oxysporum which Andy works on alongside the Fellowship.

Andy Taylor

The Fellowship

The Fellowship is titled ‘maintaining and developing capability in vegetable crop pathology’ and is aimed at training and mentoring Andy to become an independent researcher capable of finding solutions to problems caused by plant pathogens that are important for the horticultural industry. The main focus is on diseases of onion, carrot and parsnip including work on F. oxysporum fsp. cepae (onion basal rot), Sclerotium cepivorum (onion white rot) and Peronospora destructor (onion downy mildew) as well as Pythium violae (carrot cavity spot) and Itersonilia pastinacae (parsnip canker). Much of the work involves collection and molecular characterisation of isolates through PCR and sequencing of key genes as well as some whole genome sequencing with a view to developing diagnostic tests for each pathogen. Andy will also gain hands on experience of the problems caused by these and other diseases in the field through placements with several industry collaborators including the Allium and Brassica Centre and PlantSystems Ltd. Some key objectives are listed below:

Research on onion pathogens
  • Collection and molecular characterisation of F. oxysporum fsp. cepae isolates through PCR and sequencing
  • Development of diagnostic PCR primers for F. oxysporum fsp. cepae
  • Collection and molecular characterisation of S. cepivorum, P. destructor, Botrytis squamosa and Botrytis allii isolates
  • Development of different inoculation protocols for each pathogen
Research on carrot/parsnip pathogens
  • Development of a new qPCR assay for P. violae
  • Identification and molecular characterisation of selected parsnip canker pathogens
  • Development and testing of qPCR assays for I. pastinacae and other canker pathogens
Other pathogens to be studied
  • Botrytis cinerea and Botrytis lactucae in lettuce
  • Turnip mosaic virus, Albugo candida, Hyaloperanospora brassicae and Xanthomonas campestris in Brassica
  • Pythium ultimum and Oidium neolycopersici in tomato