BSPP News 30 Spring 1997 - Online EditionThe Newsletter of the British Society for Plant Pathology
Number 30, Spring 1997
News of Members
Scottish Agricultural Colleges
Scottish Crop Research Institute
Central Science Laboratory
University of Nottingham
Harper Adams Agricultural College
Horticulture Research International
John Innes Centre
Plant Breeding International
University of Reading
University College, London
University of Wales, Bangor
When the news seems to be full of cuts in posts and early retirement, it ispleasing to report that the number of plant pathologists at SAC has risen in thelast few years. There are now 17 staff who would admit to being plantpathologists and several more who have an involvement in the subject. Thesestaff are spread across the three centres at Aberdeen, Auchincruive andEdinburgh. The rise in numbers probably reflects the success of SAC as a wholein holding its own during difficult financial times.
The "Scottish system" at SAC means that staff can have one, two oreven three roles ¾ in education, advisory/consultancy and research. Whilstthe system can result in difficulties with priorities, few would disagree thatthe interaction between roles is mutually beneficial. The interaction extendsacross sites too in all three roles, resulting, we hope, in a well co-ordinatedapproach to our discipline in Scotland.
To highlight all the staff and their interests in detail would be difficultin a short article but the overview below might give the range of SAC'spathologists interests.
At Aberdeen, Jim Thomson takes the brunt of the teachingload which ranges from University degree to SAC Diploma courses. He is alsocourse organiser for a successful MSc course in Crop Protection, one of onlyfour in the UK. Whilst taking on some of the teaching, three other pathologistsfocus mainly on consultancy and R&D aspects. Stuart Wale concentrates oncereal and potato pathology whilst Karen Sutherland's interests are in oilseedrape and cereals - in between running the Crop Clinic. The latest arrival is RobClayton who recently moved up from the PMB Research Station at Sutton Bridge.His area of expertise is potato pathology. This just leaves Fiona Murray, wholooks after the HGCA appropriate fungicide dose research projects.
Auchincruive is well endowed with seven pathologists. DaleWalters, Neil MacRoberts and Graham Ligertwood undertake most of the teachingbut each has strong research interests - Dale on physiological and biochemicalpathology, Neil on modelling and epidemiology and Graham on potato blight.Ruaridh Bain is best known for his R&D on potato blight but he has someconsultancy activities also. Stephen Holmes who will be known by many moved to anew role several years ago in charge of a commercial company of SAC, ADGEN,which specialises in diagnostics and antisera. Stephen's post was filled by MarkMcQuilken who pursues research on horticultural crops. The last person at thiscentre is Audrey Litterick whose research is on hardy ornamental nursery stockbut this is combined with consultancy.
At the third centre, Edinburgh, a long established hot bedof pathologists, Simon Oxley and Fiona Burnett look after the Crop Clinic, haveconsultancy roles and are active in research primarily in cereal and potatopathology. Rob Harling has a horticultural consultancy role but tends toconcentrate on teaching and research into host pathogen interactions. MarkHocart, now programme secretary for BSPP, also has a teaching and researchremit. His research is primarily on the genetics of pathogens. The latestrecruit at Edinburgh is Neil Havers who looks after an HGCA research project onimmunological detection of fungicides in plant tissues.
Perhaps another unique feature of the three SAC centres are the close tieswith associated Universities particularly Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow andStrathclyde and all the pathologists they have. Across the three SAC centres,therefore, there are 12 PhD students studying plant pathology who are supervisedby SAC staff but registered at the Universities.
In this short note it has not been possible to itemise the interest ofeveryone but it should demonstrate that the discipline is alive and well at SAC.
Fungal and Bacterial Plant Pathology
Arrivals. We welcome Scott McDonald who is here for a ninemonth project funded by the Potato Marketing Board. He is using state-of-the-art detection methods to analyse volatile compounds given off by potatotubers in store.
Congratulations to Jamie Claxton who has been awarded his Ph.D. from BathUniversity on somaclonal variation and host-parasite physiology of crook rootdisease of water cress. From one plasmodiophoromycete to another, he is nowworking on a PMB funded two year project on the PCR-based molecular detection ofSpongospora subterranea in soil and tubers.
Dr Anna Avrova of the Institute for Plant Protection, St Petersburg has beenawarded a Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on resistance of Solanumsp. to Erwinia carotovora and Phytophthora infestans withGary Lyon and Paul Birch.
Geetha Gita Shilvanth has started work at SCRI on an ODA-funded project incollaboration with ICRISAT, India to develop a reliable transformation systemfor chickpeas and introduce genes encoding polygalacturonase-inhibiting proteins(PGIPs) isolated from raspberry and kiwifruit. Chickpeas in India are severelyattacked by Botrytis cinerea and the project aims to evaluate PGIP genesto enhance disease resistance.
Departures. After 8 years working on potato pathology inCrop Genetics and Fungal and Bacterial Plant Pathology, Frances Gourlay hastaken Voluntary Severance (this does not mean a pound of flesh, just that she istoo young for Voluntary Early Retirement) and has embarked on a new career innursing. We wish her well in her travels down a new avenue of life.
Meetings and new initiatives. SCRI is closely involved inthe Global Initiative on Late Blight (GILB). The International Potato Centre(CIP) convened the first meeting of the Steering Committee at the World Bank HQin Washington D.C. in January 1997, under the Chairmanship of George Mackay,Head of Crop Genetics. George will be attending the World Potato Congress inDurban, South Africa in March on behalf of CIP to deliver a paper outlining theestablish ment of the GILB entitled "Progress towards the Control of LateBlight". Bob Lowe and Helen Stewart also form an integral part of theinitiative with the worldwide GxE experiment to study the expression of hostresistance in different environments. For further information on the GILBcontact Dr Ed French at CIP HQ in Lima. His e-mail address isE.French@cgnet.com.
Plant Pathology in Northern Ireland is centred at the Applied Plant ScienceDivision of the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland at Newforge Lanein Belfast, although there are also sites at Hillsborough and Crossnacreevy inCo. Down, Loughgall in Co. Armagh and Eniskillen in Co. Fermanagh where fieldtrials are carried out. A broad range of plant pathological topics is coveredfrom production of DNA probes to offering advice on reduced rates of fungicides.
The primary aim of the Division is to undertake research aimed at answeringthe needs of the local agricultural and horticul tural industries, but there isalso considerable liaison ands joint research projects with scientists in theRepublic of Ireland, Britain, the EU and worldwide. Advice on crop diseases isalso provided as well as provision for the statutory testing of seeds andpotatoes and surveying for pathogens indicated by the Plant Health Directive.Most members of the Applied Plant Science Division are also members of theschool of Agriculture in Queens University and as such provide lectures on anumber of subjects with a plant pathological flavour.
Under the leadership of Prof. Peter Blakeman there are six project leaderswhose complete or partial remit is plant pathological research. They and theirareas of interest are listed below.
Dr Louise Cooke. Potato diseases: potato blight - variationin populations using phenotypic and molecular analysis, control and fungicideresistance; fungal tuber diseases - control and resistance. Apple diseases:epidemiology and control of canker. Cereal diseases: fungicide resistance inRhyncho sporium secalis including molecular techniques for diagnosis.
Dr Roy Copeland. Potato diseases: control of viral andbacterial pathogens. Propogation of disease-free potatoes for certification.Plant Health.
Dr Alistair McCracken. Short rotation willow coppice rustdisease: epidemiology and use of mixtures as a control strategy. Apple canker:development of techniques, including molecular to identify source and spread ofpathogen within the orchard. Apple scab: fungicide resistance. Horticulturaldiseases: particular interest in fireblight. Plant Health.
Dr Peter Mercer. Cereal diseases: reduced rates offungicides to control mildew, Rhynchosprium and Septoria. Grassdiseases: control of pathogens, particularly Micro nectriella nivalis inextended grazing. Alternative crops: seed-borne diseases of linseed, includingmolecular techniques to determine their taxonomy; diseases of lupins. Linseedseed disease testing.
Mr David Seaby. Mushroom diseases: vectors of Dactyliumand Trichoderma spp. and their control.
Dr Shekar Sharma. Mushroom diseases: virus detection.
Also under the leadership of Dr Mike Camlin, Dr Alex McGarel:Cereal diseases: susceptibility of Recommended Cereal Varieties to pathogens.
Society of Irish Plant Pathologists
The Society of Irish Plant Pathologists (SIPP) is an all-Irelandorganisation and was founded in 1968. The objects of the Society are to promoteexchange of information of ideas in Plant Pathology, to promote and interest inPlant Pathology amongst the community in general, to represent Irish plantpathologists internationally and to advise on matters of importance relating toPlant Pathology. The two principal activities of SIPP are the organisation ofscientific meetings and the production of the SIPP Newsletter.
President:Dr Peter Mercer
Chairman: Dr Louise Cooke
Secretary:Dr Enda Bannon
The BSPP President, Nigel Hardwick, left ADAS to join Central ScienceLaboratory at York in June and Steve Parker joined ADAS (and is working at HighMowthorpe) in November from Long Ashton Research Station. We wish them well intheir new posts. John Evans retired in August and now lives in an old mill inmid Wales.
All ADAS plant pathologists are in R & D apart from David Ann, IreneKoomen and Bill Clark who are in "consultancy" (advisory) and arehome-based in Somerset, Kent and at ADAS Boxworth respectively. Andy Philips andJohn Scrace are with the Plant Diagnostic Unit (Plant Clinic) at ADASWolverhampton.
ADAS Plant Pathologists in R & D are based at the Research Centres,formerly the Experimental Husbandry Farms, and are located as follows:
Nick Bradshaw - Cardiff; Dr John Davies - Terrington, nearKings Lynn; Peter Gladders - Boxworth, near Cambridge; David Jonesand Tom Locke - Rosemaund, near Hereford; David Lockley -Starcross, near Exeter; Philippa Mansfield - Bridgets, near Winchester;Tim O'Neill - Arthur Rickwood, near Ely, Cambs; Steve Parker andNeil Paveley - High Mowthorpe, near Duggleby, N. Yorks; and CarolineYoung - Wolverhampton.
All are contactable by e-mail as named above firstname.lastname@example.org. (I make noapologies for using my title; there is another John Davies in ADAS!). MikeGriffin remains in Cambridge as Government Account Manager.
In April, David Lockley, Tom Locke and John Davies attended the Diagnosticsin Crop Production Conference at Warwick. In June, Tim O'Neill attended the XIInternational Botrytis Symposium in Holland. In August, Tom Locke visitedGuelph, Ontario and Wooster, Ohio to investigate verticillium wilt of potatoes.In September, John Davies attended the AAB Horticulture Conference at Warwick.Also in September, John Scrace attended the 4th International Symposium of theEFPP in Bonn ("Diagnosis and Identifica tion of Plant Pathogens").
Peter Gladders is participating in an EU Concerted Action on Oilseeds whichinvolved visits to Cordoba in February and Bonn in October. Nick Bradshaw isinvolved in a Concerted Action on European Network for the development of anintegrated control strategy for potato late blight led by Dutch workers at PAGVLelystad and met there in October. In November, Nick Bradshaw, John Davies,Peter Gladders, David Jones, Tom Locke, Tim O'Neill and Neil Paveley attendedthe BCPC Brighton Conference and most were either session organisers, platformspeakers or poster exhibitors.
It has been quite a while since Central Science Laboratory (CSL) last gracedthese pages and plenty has happened in that time. For the uninitiated, CSL is amulti-disciplinary agricultural and food research establishment, enjoyingExecutive Agency status under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Foodand Fisheries (MAFF). On a day-to-day basis, CSL's "raison d'être"is to provide consultancy and scientific research for MAFF, the EU and variousnon-governmental and commercial organisations.
The scope of CSL's activities is quite enormous, encompassing a vast rangeof different groups including ones as diverse as the National Bee Unit and abird-strike research team. However, one of CSL's largest traditional areas ofexpertise has always been plant pathology. Falling within the Plant HealthGroup, almost all of CSL's plant pathologists were based at the HarpendenLaboratory in Hatching Green, Hertfordshire. However, after more than 35 years,all that has now changed and staff have found themselves moving 200 miles north.
Over a period of three months, beginning in early September last year, allthe staff (and anything else that was not bolted down) have been relocated fromthe Harpenden Labora tory to a new purpose-built complex at Sand Hutton, NorthYorkshire. The new laboratory, which was built at an estimated cost of £100million, represents one of the largest single investments in agriculturalresearch this century. Constructed on an 80 acre green-field site, some 6 milesout of York, the site will eventually house some 450 staff, including those fromCSL Harpenden and its sister laboratories at Slough and Worplesdon, along with anumber from smaller sites around the UK.
The buildings themselves are extensive, covering over 48,000 m2and providing the sort of space which the cramped old sites could never match(goodbye to all those Harpenden Portakabins). In addition to plenty of workingaccommodation, the new site also manages to cater for its staff's creaturecomforts, squeezing in a nursery, a lakeside restaurant and for the residentmasochists, a gym. However, it isn't all steel and concrete. Theenvironmentally-friendly face of CSL Sand Hutton has been extensively landscapedand includes some 8000 new trees and even a purpose-built sand martin nestingbank.
Not only has the move allowed a significant improvement in the generalstandard of working conditions for CSL staff, it has also provided the idealopportunity to improve scientific facilities. For many years now, much of theplant pathology-related work carried out at CSL has involved quarantinediseases, such as brown rot of potato and rhizomania of sugar beet. The buildingof the Sand Hutton laboratory has allowed work in this area not only to continuebut to expand, providing extra capacity to cope with the unknown threats of thefuture. The new site has a unique range of quarantine facilities, includinglaboratories and glass houses with quarantine drainage to contain non-indigenoussoil-borne pathogens, alongside an extensive range of high- containmentglasshouse and controlled environment facilities, purposely designed for workinvolving alien pests and diseases and their vectors. The new laboratorybenefits from two brand new electron microscopes, including a transmission EMthat includes the latest digital image analysis system. Com bined with the newscanning EM, these should prove invaluable tools for both diagnostics andresearch.
I hope this article has provided some useful facts about the CSL relocation.For all of us now up here, it is good to be settling in and having survived themove (unlike most of our glassware) and another "Prior Options" review(CSL is to keep its agency status "for the foreseeable future"),hopefully it will be back to business as usual ?!?
Both research and teaching in plant pathology continue to flourish at theUniversity of Nottingham, as the 1996 research assessment exercise confirms. Atthe Sutton Bonington Campus, with its grade 5 rating, research in the Departmentof Physiology and Environ mental Science is undertaken by the groups of Dr SteveRossall and Dr Matt Dickinson.
Dr Rossall's group continue to develop biological control agents againstsoil-borne fungal pathogens, in particular through the use of Bacillusspecies, in collaboration with ADAS and funded by MAFF. Dr Dickinson's grouphave been developing molecular techniques for analysis of the cereal rust fungi,and have been using molecular markers to analyse variation in the fungi, andconstructing cDNA libraries for analysis of genes expressed during rustinfection.
A recent addition to the academic staff in the Department has been Dr HelenWest, who is continuing here work on mycorrhizal fungi and their affects on rootand foliar plant pathogens.
There are also strong links with IACR- Rothamsted through theIACR-Nottingham link scheme, with a number of jointly supervised postgraduatestudents registered at the University working on projects ranging fromfungally-transmitted viruses to detection of phytoplamas in coconuts.
Plant pathology research also continues in the Department of Life Sciencesat the Main Campus of the University, where Professor John Peberdy and Dr PaulDyer's groups are particularly interested in fungal mating systems with the aimof developing novel targets for chemical control of plant pathogens, and astrong link remains with the group of Professor John Lucas at IACR-Long Ashton.
During the past twelve months there have been some major developments in ourplant pathology activities. A new building for the Crop and Environment ResearchCentre was officially opened in January. The building, which contains apurpose-built molecular diagnostics laboratory, represents a major investment bythe College in crop research.
Several research contracts, using molecular techniques to both identify andquantify fungal pathogens, have developed from a well established collaborationbetween Dr David Parry and Dr Paul Nicholson's group at the John Innes Centre,Norwich. As part of a BBSRC/ROPA project, Dr Fiona Graham is developingquantitative multiplex PCR to examine interactions between fungal pathogens ofwinter wheat.
Dr Simon Edwards and Miss Jo McDow ell are recent members of the groupfunded by HGCA and Novartis on projects employing PCR to detect and quantifystem base and seed borne pathogens of wheat. Electron microscope studies oncolonisation of wheat by Fusarium species are being undertaken at CERCand the University of Bristol by Dr John Clement.
Alex Hilton and Dr David Parry visited Prof A Mesterhazy at the CerealsResearch Institute, Hungary during July. Alex also presented a poster onmechanisms of resistance to Fusarium ear blight at the Brighton CropProtection Conference in November. Miss Jo Liggit gave a presentation onfungicidal control of ear blight at AgrEvo, Chesterford Park in December. InOctober, Dr David Parry travelled to the Fusarium Conference at CIMMYT, Mexicoto present an invited paper on significance and control of Fusarium earblight.
At the Scottish Potato 97 meeting at Aberdeen in February, Dr PeterJenkinson, in collaboration with Hardi International, promoted a new on-linecomputer-based potato blight forecasting system.
Dr Said Ibrahim moved from Rothamsted in January to join Dr Pat Haydock'sgroup working on control of potato cyst nematodes. Dr Simon Woods has alsojoined the group after completing his Ph.D. at Harper Adams comparing chemicaland integrated control of PCN. In April, Simon presented a poster at the BCPCsymposium on Diagnostics in Crop Protection.
At the end of March, Dr David Parry moved to HRI, East Malling to take upthe post of Head of the Entomology and Plant Pathology Department. During theten years he was at Harper Adams, David made major contributions to thedevelopment of plant pathology teaching and research. David retains his researchlinks with Harper Adams where he is a Visiting Reader in Plant Pathology.
Virus and Phytoplasma Diseases. Dr Trevor Wicks, a seniorplant pathologist from the South Australian Research and Development Institute,Adelaide, visited Dr John Walsh in July to discuss diseases of field vegetablesduring a programme organised by Dr Andrew Entwistle.
Dr Michael Clark and Dr Susan Crossley travelled to Australia and Indonesiaover a two week period as part of an NRI-sponsored programme to developtechniques to detect sweet potato little leaf phytoplasmas. In Australia theyvisited the Waite Institute in Adelaide, where they conducted a two day workshopin phytoplasma detection tech niques, including the newly developed platecapture-PCR procedure. In Bogor, Indonesia, they conducted a four day workshopin collaboration with Dr Machmud of the Research Institute for Food Crops. Atboth venues Michael Clark presented a seminar on phytoplasma research at EastMalling.
Fungal Diseases. In July, David Chambers visited theInstitute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation at Pulawy in the Lublin hopgrowing region of South East Poland, and spent two weeks with the hop protectiongroup of Dr Ewa Solarska. During this time, he became familiar with research onVerti cillium wilt in hops, assessed the importance and characteristics of thedisease, and discussed aspects of the work where Anglo- Polish collaborationcould take place.
Geoff White attended the 26th Interna tional Carrot Conference in Toronto,Canada, in September, and presented a paper on cavity spot detection. He alsoentertained a delega tion of 30 Finnish glasshouse growers in September and gavea presentation on biological control. Dr Dez Barbara gave the opening plenarylecture on "The molecular taxonomy of plant pathogenic Verticilliumspp." at the 9th meeting of the Polish Phytopathological Society, Krakow,Poland.
General Pathology. Dr Dez Barbara visited Portugal inOctober to present a plenary lecture at the first meeting of the newly formedPortuguese Society of Phytopathology held at Universidad de Tras-os-Montes eAlto Douro, Vila Real. His presentation was entitled, "DiagnosticTechniques Available in Plant Pathology - the New Era".
Dr Angela Berrie, Dr Xiangming Xu and Dr David Harris organised the 4thInterna tional Workshop on Integrated Control of Pome Fruit Diseases in Croydonin August. The meeting was attended by over 50 delegates from 15 countries.
David L. Davies
HRI, East Malling
Brassicas & Oilseeds Department
There are two main areas of interest. Firstly, we are developing lines ofoilseed rape which possess high levels of resistance to the light leaf spotpathogen, Pyrenopeziza brassicae. Two main sources of resistance arebeing studied. One of these is derived from a wild Brassica species fromTunisia. This resistance has been successfully introduced into geneticallystable oilseed rape breeding lines and field trials are currently in progress.The second source of resistance is from the related crucifer Eruca sativa,which is more popularly known as salad rocket. This resistance is harder tointroduce as it relies on recombination between the Brassica andErucagenomes. A new research programme between Plant breeding International willstudy recombination in crosses between Eruca and Brassica andwill seek to introgress the resistance genes into winter oilseed rape breedinglines.
The second major area of interest is the involvement of glucosinolates inplant pathogen and plant-herbivore interactions. While these compounds are toxicto Brassica pathogens in vitro, our studies have shown thatincreases in the levels of these com pounds in planta have either noeffect on disease resistance, or increase susceptibility, contrary toexpectations. It seems likely that pathogens such as Leptosphaeria maculansand Alternaria spp can detoxify these compounds, in an analogous way tospecial ised insect herbivores. We are seeking to modify the chemical structureof the gluco sinolate molecule so that it will no longer be recognised by insectherbivores and patho gens. The direct and indirect (i.e by a reduction inherbivory by insects) effect of these changes on disease susceptibility will bemonitored.
Cereals Research Department
Looking back through past BSPP Newsletters it appears that little has beenheard of the personnel in these parts for some considerable time. However, I canassure everyone out there that there is still activity in these parts.
There are three groups in the pathology section of the Cereals ResearchDepartment: mildews and Mycosphaerella graminicola (headed by JamesBrown), rusts (headed by Lesley Boyd) and facultative pathogens - eyespot, Fusarium,Septoria nodorum - (headed by Paul Nicholson). Both James and Paul wererelocated from Cambridge following the sale of the Plant Breeding Institutewhile Lesley is a more recent addition, having taken over responsibility forrusts following the retirement of Roy Johnson.
The section, at present, comprises the three project leaders along withtheir assistants, Elaine Foster, Peter Minchin, Navideh Rezanoor and GillianWeston. Three post-docs, Chris Ridout, Duncan Simpson and Adrian Turner, arecurrently working with us, along with four Ph.D. students, Jacquie Broadhead,Rachel Hague, Fiona Doohan (from Ireland) and Lia Arraiano e Castro Alves (fromPortugal). We have close links with the University of East Anglia, in lecturingand in supervising undergraduate research projects.
We have also been graced with the presence of a large number of short andlonger term visitors who have contributed greatly both to the social andintellectual life of the section. The latest are Mogens Hovmøller, fromDenmark, who is here for six months on an EU fellowship and Shiv Sagar, fromIndia, who is on a training programme funded by FAO.
The past year has seen a fair degree of travel for many of us. Most of thesection travelled west to Exeter for the 1996 Molecular Biology of FungalPathogens meeting and Paul went further to attend a scab (Fusarium earblight) workshop at CIMMYT, in Mexico, having received generous support from theBSPP travel fund which he gratefully aknowledges. A substantial number alsotravelled to the Netherlands for the Cereal Rusts and Powdery Mildews Conferenceat Lunteren, where James was one of the keynote speakers. However, Rachel Haguecapped all this by escaping the chilly Norfolk winter to San Diego, California,for the 5th Plant and Animal Genome meeting.
Recent visitors to the Department have included Dr Rivka Hadas from the SeedTesting Laboratory, Volcani Centre, Israel, Dr Elzbieta Zakrzewska of the PlantBreeding Institute, Radzikow in Warsaw, Poland, and Dr Mogens Hovmøllerfrom the Danish Research Service for Plant & Soil Science, Lyngby, Denmark.
Dr Jeremy Sweet attended an executive committee meeting of the EFPP at theUniversity of Turin in January and was confirmed as a committee member. Whilstin Turin, he also visited the Plant Pathology Department at the University andthe CNR Institute of Virology.
Cereal Pathology Section. Dr Rosemary Bayles and Mr JohnClarkson presented a poster entitled ?Changes in virulence frequency in responseto host resistance in UK cereal pathogen populations' at the 9th Cereal Rusts &Powdery Mildews Conference, Lunteren, Netherlands in September 1996. ThisConference was combined with pan- European COST meetings, which they attended asSub-group Coordinators and Management Committee members. Dr Mohammad Aslam,Director of the Crop Diseases Research Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan, spent 3months working in the Section on wheat yellow rust virulence testing.
Molecular Biology & Diagnostics Section. Dr Wendy Cooperand Emily Blakemore attended the 4th EFPP symposium in Bonn, Germany. A one daytraining course on Understanding Plant Biotechnology was organised by theSection in February 1997 with further dates already planned for the future. DrVijaya Kumar from the Plant Quarantine & Fumigation Station, Visakhapatnam,India, spent two months with us, training in seed pathology methods which willthen be applied to plant quarantine procedures back in India.
As Head of the Plant Technology Group, Graham Jellis is involved very muchwith "flying-a-desk" but has still got his feet firmly on the groundas you would expect from your Society Secretary. He visited India last Februarywhere he gave an invited paper on Disease Resistance at a Plant BreedingConference held at The Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. He alsoattended the Brighton Conference where he organised a session on "Thecontribution of biotechnology to breeding for pest and disease resistance".
Bill Hollins visited research institutes in Germany in the summer, attendedthe 10th European & Mediterranean Cereal Rusts Powdery Mildews Conference atLunteren, The Netherlands in September and the AAB meeting in Cambridge inDecember.
Dr Mary MacDonald has completed her ODA-funded project on the resistance ofmaize and rice to Fusarium. She is now working in the "Science & Plantsfor Schools" initiative based at Homerton College, Cambridge but we expecther to be returning to PBI occasionally to develop some of the experimentalpackages which will go out to schools.
Recent visitors to the PBI included Professor Demetrius Metzakis who spent 3months working on sources of powdery mildew in peas and has just returned hometo the Technological & Educational Institution of Epirus, Greece.
Work on several PhD projects continues. John Howie (joint project with theJohn Innes Institute, Norwich) is now busy writing up his work on thecharacterisation of susceptibility genes to foliar diseases of wheat. Aspects ofJohn's work will be continued by Vivek Duggal from the Punjab AgriculturalUniversity, Ludhiana. Vivek will attempt molecular characterisation of some ofthe genes involved in yellow rust and mildew resistance. Alex Hilton (basedmainly at Harper Adams Agricultural College) enters the final year of a projectlooking at aspects of resistance to Fusarium head blight of wheat.
In addition, two CASE award students are currently doing some of their workat PBI; Tim Clifford from the University of Leicester is developing novelstrategies for transgenic virus resistance in peas and Sharon Hall (Universityof Southampton) is cloning genes involved in lignification. A further student,Andrew Buchanan of the School of Biological and Biochemical Sciences, Bath, willspend some time here as he develops molecular markers for resistance to Fusariumwilt of oil- palm.
Organisational changes have resulted in the amalgamation of the PlantPathology and Crop Management Departments at Roth amsted. This change wasprecipitated by the early retirement of Bob Prew as Head of Crop Management.Ironically Bob joined the Plant Pathology Department at Rothamsted in 1970 as aroot pathologist working on take-all. The new Department, to be known as theCrop and Disease Management Department (CDM) came into existence on 1 November1995 and the Head of Department is Roger Plumb, the previous Head of PlantPathology.
The new Department is the largest in IACR and now plant pathologists workalongside weed ecologists, agronomists and crop physiologists. The organisationof IACR's programme into themes, the Sustain able Production Systems andIntegrated Crop Protection themes cover all the Rothamsted- based plantpathology work, also encourages cross-fertilization of ideas and joint projects.Of the five programmes in CDM three are mainly concerned with pathology. JohnJenkyn leads the Crop Pathology programme, Mike Adams, the programme on pathogen/vector/host interactions and Alastair McCartney the work on dispersalprocesses and aerobiology.
Several new appointments have recently been made, Jane Etheridge to work onlupins with Geoff Bateman, Jonathan Biddulph to work on oilseed rape with BruceFitt, and Ph.D Students Will Dawson, Hossain Massumi and Simon Foster. RecentPh.Ds have been successfully completed by Anne Wangai (BYDV in Kenya), JosephLamptey (BYDV on biomass grasses), Roff Mohamad (Bean Yellow mosaic virus) andUrsula Schlichter (Take-all Polymyxa root interactions).
We have also welcomed several overseas scientists joining us as RothamstedInterna tional Fellows Hai Su (China), Darmono Taniwiryono (Indonesia), YousefMohammed Al Raisi (Oman), Katta Satya Prasad (India), Kandula Wadia (ICRISAT), CKuruvilla Jacob (India), Fucong Zheng (China) and Chuanxue Hong (China). Otherrecent overseas visitors have been Anders Kussak (Sweden), Anna Avrova (Russia)and Irma Rosas (Mexico), all of whom have contributed substantially to our work.
Visits overseas have been made by Nash Nashaat, Kevin Doughty (Brassicaoilseeds pathology in India), John Jenkyn (India), Anna Tymon (Sri Lanka), PhilJones (most places where coconuts are grown!), Mike Adams (China), AlastairMcCartney (India, Mexico) and John Lacey (too numerous to list!).
A notable retirement at the end of April is John Lacey, after almost 35years at Rothamsted. John has made the interface between fungi and human healthan area of his unique expertise, as well as having an international reputationin grain storage pathology and aerobiology. Those who know John will realisethat retirement is only a date in a calendar and we hope he will retain hislinks with Rothamsted.
Thus despite changes in name Plant Pathology continues to thrive atRothamsted.
Molecular Plant Pathology Group
The past 18 months have seen many changes in personnel and research emphasisin the Molecular Pathology Group at LARS. Following the arrival of Paul Bowyerfrom the Sainsbury Lab in 1995, several new projects on the cereal pathogensSeptoria and Tapesia have started, mainly concerned with theidentification of genes involved in colonization of the host and correspondingpathogenicity factors.
Research on Septoria tritici and Stagono spora nodoruminvolves John Hargreaves and John Keon, and is also being supported through aBBSRC/ASD grant linked with Chris Caten at the University of Birmingham, AgrEvoUK, and Zeneca Agrochemicals.
Andy Bailey joined the group in February 97 as a postdoctoral scientistworking on polyamine biosynthesis in plant pathogenic fungi linked with TonyMichael at IFR, Norwich. This research area also includes Elisabeth Mueller, aBBSRC CASE student with Zeneca.
Other Ph.D. CASE students starting projects are Claire Rushowski(mutagenesis in S. nodorum), Alexis Hunter-Craig (the secretory pathwayin S. nodorum) both with AgrEvo UK, and Hannah Noel (active oxygenspecies and pathogenicity in Botrytis) joint with Paul Wood in theDepartment of Biochemistry at Bristol University.
Collaboration on the sexual cycle of Tapesia and genetic analysis inthis previously asexual (or was it really?) pathogen has continued with PaulDyer at the University of Nottingham and Paul Nicholson at the JIC. As part ofthis programme, John Lucas visited Pedro Crous at the University ofStellenbosch, South Africa, in December 96, followed in January 97 by PaulBowyer to Massey University, New Zealand, to collect further isolates incollaboration with Rosie Bradshaw, herself an ex-Nottingham postgraduate.
There are interesting contrasts between Tapesia populations inEurope and the Southern Hemisphere, most notably the apparent absence in SouthAfrica of T. acuformis (the old R-pathotype, now recognised as aseparate species), as well as differing patterns of resistance to fungicides.Eyespot disease continues to be a serious problem in the Western Cape, and aftera wet spring, lodging was evident through many fields in the undulating Capelandscape. Pedro Crous and Graham Campbell, a joint PhD student, are due to makea return visit during 1997. Financial support from the British Council and BBSRCfor these international links is gratefully acknowledged.
Other overseas trips during 1996 included a visit by Sally Monnington, aMAFF student working on potato early dying (Verticillium dahliae)together with Tom Locke, ADAS, to North America. Sally and Tom visited labs atthe Universities of Guelph (Jane Robb), and Ohio State University (Randall Rowe)as well as field trial sites in Ontario (George Lazarovits). PED is a recognizedproblem in the US and Canada and one aim of this project is to assess the extentof damage due to the disease in the UK.
Work on Colletotrichum continues through a collaborative projectbetween Richard O'Connell and Jon Green at the University of Birmingham, usingmonoclonal antibodies to identify stage-specific fungal proteins/genes. Thisproject also involves Rafaella Carzaniga, a Royal Society/CNR post-doctoralfellow visiting from Milan University, and Sarah Perfect, a BBSRC CASE student.
Phillip Wharton, an NRI-sponsored postgraduate from the University ofReading, is completing his final year at LARS investigating the resistance ofsorghum to C. sublineolum. Visits to his Web site (http://www.lars.bbsrc.ac.uk/cellbiol/molpath/philhome.html)are recommended (while you're there how about surfing through some otherexciting visual pathology via the Cell Biology home page -cellbiol/home.html).
Studies on infection processes and host resistance to anthracnose disease incashew are being conducted by another postgraduate student, Ana Maria Lopez, inconjunction with scientists in NE Brazil. This and other problems in cashewproduction and utilization are the topic of a workshop, coordinated jointly withthe LARS group, to be held in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil in March 1997.
The role of enzymes in host colonization and specificity in Colletotrichumspecies is being investigated by Saida Amer, a postgrad uate Channel schemestudent from the University of Tanta, Egypt. This project is a continuation ofwork carried out on anthrac nose disease of cowpea and other legumes during1995-6 by Olu Latunde-Dada, who has now returned to Ogun State University,Nigeria. Molecular genetic approaches to identify host range determinants inColletotri chum species are currently being developed by Caroline Nash,including the analysis of mutants arising from Olu's productive spell at LARS.
Plant Pathology (and Nematology) are flourishing at the University ofReading. The subjects form part of most degrees in Agriculture and relatedsubjects, and are important disciplines within the MSc in Crop Protection, takenby 15-20 students each year. Over 15 students are registered for PhD's - atstages varying from just starting, to nearly written up!
The research done is mostly at the "larger" end of the spectrum,using molecular techniques as a tool - with excellent shared facilities suppliedby the School of Plant Sciences - but not researching at the molecular level.Weed control by pathogens is an active area for Roland Fox and his colleagues;this area has been strengthened with the arrival of Paul Hatcher, formerly atLancaster. Michael Shaw is involved in work in several areas of epidemiology,pathogen ecology and adaptive evolution of fungi.
In the Agriculture department Jeff Peters is busy with yam anthracnose,while Mike Deadman is involved in many projects both overseas and in the UK.Plant Sciences were extremely pleased to be rated 5* in the recent RAE, whileAgriculture was rated 4.
On 1 April 1997, the Forestry Commission Research Division was transformedinto an Agency, "Forest Research". It remains part of the ForestryCommission.
This seems an appropriate time to outline the research programme of thePathology Branch. The Branch is divided between two locations - Alice HoltResearch Station, near Farnham in Surrey and the Northern Research Station,Roslin, Midlothian - with responsibility for dealing with disease enquiriesdivided at the Humber/Mersey line.
John Gibbs is Head of Branch with a fairly heavy administrative load -particularly on "internal market" days. However he manages to keepsome time for research; his current interest being the Phytophthoradisease of alder. This disease was first identified by staff of the Branch in1993 and has since been reported from six other European countries. Experiencein Britain shows it has the potential to be extremely damaging. Clive Brasier isalso involved with this disease, taking a special interest in the pathogen.This, as those who read the article in the December 1995 issue of PlantPathology will know, has affinities with Phytophthora cambivora, butshows a number of differences. Clive is pursuing his current work on itsidentity and affinities in close cooperation with Jim Duncan at SCRI.
Apart from Phytophthora, Clive's other principal interest remainsDutch elm disease, and he has work in progress on the origin of this disease andon possible approaches to biological control. The most important of these is viathe dsRNA "d-factors". In this latter connection, Louise Sutherland isconducting work on genetic variation in the d-factors with a view to theirmanipulation and/or artificial release. In the d-factor work, Clive collaborateswith Ken Buck and his associates at Imperial College and Imperial recentlyrecognised the value of Clive's work by appointing him to an honorary professorship.
David Lonsdale is distilling his knowledge on decay and structural weaknessin trees in a book, "Principles of Hazard Tree Assessment and Management",that has been commissioned by the Department of the Environment. David also hasa watching brief on poplar diseases and, is taking an active part in some of thealder disease work - in this case a study of its infection biology. Joan Webberhas a major interest in the ecology and control of the stain and decay fungithat cause loss of value and strength in felled timber. She is also developingthe Branch capacity in the field of molecular biology. The Disease Diagnosticand Advisory Service at Alice Holt is run by David Rose, who also manages tomaintain his interest in expert systems - most notably for the identification ofwood-rotting fungi in culture.
At the Northern Research Station, Derek Redfern continues with his researchon aspects of Fomes root and butt rot of conifers caused by Heterobasidionannosum. He is also in charge of the Northern disease diagnostic work andruns the UK component of the Europe-wide "Forest Condition Survey".Steve Gregory is also involved in diagnostic and advisory work. In addition, heruns a programme on woodland health awareness for the other parts of theForestry Commission - Forest Enterprise and The Forestry Authority. He is alsoin charge of an Amenity Tree Health Survey, carried out by Forest Research forthe DoE. Steve and Derek have just authored a Forestry Commission Handbook, "TheIdentification of Causes of Ill-health in Woodlands and Plantation Trees",due out later this summer.
Jim Pratt is involved in the H. annosum work, with a specialinterest in new ap proaches to stump treatment that are compati ble with machineharvesting, a process that has now taken over most of the felling operations inForest Enterprise plantations. He is concentrating on derivatives of boron forstump treatment.
The plant pathology group at UCL has been interested in the problems ofDeveloping Countries for a number of years. Resulting from this, almost half ofa total of 19 researchers who have obtained their Ph.D. degrees have been fromsuch countries. Their projects have been concerned with resistance andsusceptibility to fungal pathogens of such diverse crops as cucurbits in Iran,groudnuts in West Africa and India, soybeans in Brazil, chickpea in Tunisia andPakistan and cassava in Ghana.
In general the approach has been to obtain some fundamental informationwhich may, in the short or longer term, be of value in control. This has led tothe discovery of the diversity of the phytoalexins, some of which were novelcompounds, in groundnuts and pigeonpea and the means by which they may beelicited . Conversely, the rapid death of chickpea plants infected with Ascochytarabiei led to the idea that the fungus might produce a toxin. Culturefiltrates of the fungus were toxic to cells of several plant species but themost sensitive were chickpea and potato. After fractionation, we found threetoxins in the culture filtrates and for about one week we thought they mighthave been new to science! However, Sakamura's group in Japan had previouslyreported them from Alternaria solani, the causal agent of early blightof potatoes, an interesting finding in view of our assay results with cells fromthis plant.
Other work has been of a more diagnostic nature and has includedidentification of the race of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. ciceri,causing wilt of chickpea in Tunisia and the identity of Colletotrichumgloeosporioides as the causal agent of a dieback disease of cassava inGhana. For this, Emmanuel Moses, who is the current winner of the P H Gregoryprize of the BSPP, collaborated with John Bailey and Caroline Nash at LongAshton Research Station in order to determine the species by sequencing part ofthe larger ribosomal subunit of the fungus.
Work in progress includes further studies on the solanapyrone toxins and aninvestiga tion of the interaction of Alternaria isolates from crucifersin Thailand with their hosts.
Deep in the heart of Kent, Wye College continues to be a site of specialscientific interest with a rare flock of active pathologists including more ofthe molecular form of the species.
When numbers are counted, it is always surprising to find that there are 24of us engaged in research on pathological topics. This total includes groups inBiological Sciences working with Jim Beynon and John Mansfield, and TerrySwinburne's activities in the Horticulture Department (believe it or not wecannot keep him away from the lab!). Terry continues to pursue his projects onNectriaand has encouraged the development of a molecular diagnostics laboratory whichis run by Madan Thangavelu. Molecular probes are developed for a wide range ofpathogens, notably mycoplasmas (e.g. witches broom disease of lime) and Ganodermaspp. from Malaysia.
Jim Beynon has outgrown several laboratories in his work on resistance genesin Arabidopsis and Brassicas. His team now has a strongly international flavourwith senior postdocs and research fellows from New Zealand (Kevin Williams,Peter Bittner- Eddy) and the latest students from Iran and Greece. They aretargetting cluster of genes for resistance to Peronospora and Albugoand downstream signalling cascades. The recent establishment of automatedsequencing facilities in the Department has greatly improved our potential toanalyse large regions of the Arabidopsis genome. The Arabidopsis pathology hasclose links with Eric Holub's group at HRI.
John Mansfield is still looking at too many models (systems that is!).Gene-for-gene interactions between Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicolaand Phaseolus, and Bremia and lettuce are still the main areasfor research. The former has received a recent boost by the demonstration thatthe avirulence gene proteins themselves elicit the HR. Electron microscopycontinues to be used to study these interactions and also the responses oflettuce and pepper to challenge by bacteria. The role of the hrp-dependentsecretion system in signal delivery is also being tackled usingimmunocytochemical approaches. Chris Roberts provides a directly applied twistwith his study of the biocontrol of Thielavopsis basicola onornamentals. Good isolates of Trichoderma continue to emerge from JohnFletcher's mushroom compost!
Courses on Plant Pathology continue to be taught at the undergraduate andpostgradu ate levels as components of B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees, and the CollegeDiploma in Crop Science. We still have the luxury of an intro ductory coursewith enough practical slots to allow a good look at most of the major fungalpathogens. The "museum" of specimens at Wye has been maintained sincethe 1940s ¾ any new contributions are always welcome!
Plant pathology at University of Wales, Bangor is solely concerned withobligate pathogens. Drs Nick Pipe and Jenny Day are looking at potatolate-blight populations at the fine and coarse-grain scale respectively.Together they are developing novel molecular markers to investigate populationgenetics, risk assessment, and the occurrence and frequency of sexualreproduction in blighted crops. Bangor continues to play host to a succession ofRussian and Polish post- and undergraduate students of plant pathologyinterested in late-blight of potato and tomato and also downy mildew of pearlmillet.
David Shaw in collaboration with John Witcombe in Bangor's Centre of AridZone Studies is supervising the downy mildew work which also has links with MikeGale at the John Innes Centre. The plant pathology group also has links withAgrEvo UK with Lee Bains investigating oospores of Phytoph thora infestansin different fungicide regimes currently used in the UK.
Elsewhere in the School of Biological Sciences, physiologists supervised byProfs John Farrar and Deri Tomos use cereal rusts and powdery mildew toinvestigate various aspects of photosynthesis carbohydrate metabolism andhost-cell water relationships. In some of these programmes the effects ofelevated CO2 are being studied.
Plant pathology features in all three years of some of the dozenundergraduate degrees offered by the School of Biological Sciences. The School,which is the largest in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, admits approx.150 undergraduates annually. Bob Whitbread, not only teaches and supervises inplant pathology, but is also the current Dean of the Faculty