BSPP News Autumn 2001 - Online Edition

The Newsletter of the British Society for Plant Pathology
Number 40, Autumn 2001 


Obituary - Nigel Lyons 

Friends and colleagues throughout Horticulture Research International, and across the horticultural industry, were shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Dr Nigel Lyons in July.

Nigel was born in 1942 in Surbiton, Surrey, and educated at Dulwich College in London.  He trained initially as a medical technologist at The London Hospital Medical College (1959-1962) before moving to study parasitology in Zimbabwe (then Southern  Rhodesia). In 1966 he became Chief Medical Technologist at the University of Zimbabwe working on the detection and diagnosis of tropical diseases, in particular leprosy, which became the subject of his DPhil in 1986.  He set up and ran a monoclonal antibody unit, which formed part of a USDA scheme for leprosy research. During this time Nigel was also a part-time Major in the Zimbabwean Army and a pilot, flying his own plane to visit leprosy clinics in remote parts of Zimbabwe. He helped make two public health films on the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases for the Zimbabwe National Army and their Ministry of Health.

Nigel left Zimbabwe in 1987, due to the deteriorating political and security situation, and whilst visiting relatives in Wellesbourne carried out some work in John Taylor's lab at HRI on the serological detection of plant pathogens.  Nigel's experience in the detection of human pathogens proved very useful and led to his appointment as a Higher Scientific Officer in the Wellesbourne Plant Pathology Department in 1988. Between then and 2000, he worked on the immunological detection and diagnosis of a range of important plant pathogens including cavity spot, pea blight, bacterial wilt and a range of onion bacterial pathogens.  Many of the technologies he developed were commercialised as kits and are widely used in the horticulture industry in the UK and overseas.

Nigel left HRI in March 2001 to take up a consultancy with Adgen and to continue state-funded work on bacterial wilt in Portugal, a country for which he had a great affinity. He remained in contact with colleagues at HRI and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Tijs Gilles
HRI Wellesbourne