AHDB/Warwick Horticultural Fellowship: Maintaining and developing capability in vegetable crop pathology


CP 113 - AHDB/Warwick Horticultural Fellowship: Maintaining and developing capability in vegetable crop pathology

Start Date: 
Completion Date: 
Project Leader: 
Dr John Clarkson, University of Warwick
CP 113

AHDB Horticulture project cost (Total project cost): £160,802 (£545,719)


Project summary:


The UK field vegetable sector is valued at approximately £690M and is the largest of the seven horticultural industry sectors supported by AHDB Horticulture. Currently, 75% of AHDB Horticulture's research budget is aimed at crop protection to ensure that ‘industry has a functional armoury with which to control economically important pests and diseases, whilst delivering a safe and high quality product to the consumer.’ (AHDB Horticulture Vegetable Panel R&D Strategy 2012). Clearly, the discipline of plant pathology is an important component of future productivity and efficiency of horticultural crops in the UK. However, several recent reports have identified a reduction in R&D capability in agriculture, and plant pathology in particular has been identified as a discipline under threat (e.g. Royal Society Report: Reaping the Benefits: Science and the Sustainable Intensification of Global Agriculture, 2009; BSPP Plant Pathology Audit, 2012). Warwick Crop Centre (WCC, part of the School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick) delivers quality research from basic through to applied science, and therefore plays a central role vital in translating research into practice. However, we have identified a succession gap in the discipline of plant pathology following the recent death of Dr Dez Barbara. Dr Barbara carried out research on a variety of (mainly vegetable) pathosystems with a particular focus on molecular studies on host-pathogen interactions, detection, population structure and phylogeny of fungi and viruses. The main aim of the Fellowship will therefore be to part fund a post-doctoral worker who will be trained and mentored as a vegetable plant pathologist with particular expertise in molecular plant pathology. The Fellowship is supported by both BOPA (British Onion producers Association) and the BCGA (British Carrot Growers Association).


Aims and objectives:


Project aim(s):

The overall aim of this Fellowship is to train a postdoctoral scientist for plant pathology research of benefit to UK horticulture with a particular focus on vegetable crops. The main aims will be to enable the Fellow to develop a full range research skills related to plant pathology with an emphasis on molecular approaches and also to develop pathogen resources for future research projects. This will help address the future research requirements of the industry and enable the Fellow to become an independent research leader.
Project objectives:
1) To train the Fellow as a plant pathologist with a focus on molecular techniques and diagnostics through direct participation in research relevant to the industry.
2) To develop pathogen collections of molecularly characterised isolates with known virulence to enhance future capability for plant pathology research.
3) To train the Fellow as a plant pathologist with a broad knowledge of different pathosystems and associated plant pathology techniques.
4) To synthesise existing unpublished work/data generated by Dr Dez Barbara.
5) To give the Fellow experience of grower practice and disease problems through industry meetings, visits and contacts.
6) To mentor the Fellow in becoming an independent research leader and establish a role for him as a leading molecular plant pathologist in UK horticulture.