Bruce Fitt is one of our ’40 Faces of Plant Pathology’
BSPP members can be found in 51 different countries, with 30% of members based in countries outside of the UK. As part of the BSPPs 40th anniversary, we asked our membership to describe some things about themselves, what plant pathology challenges they would most like to see solved, and what could improve the world of plant pathology in terms of inclusivity. Click here to return to the 40 Faces Home Page.
Institution and country of residence
University of Hertfordshire, UK
Professor of Plant Pathology
Area of expertise/study
Understanding operation of resistance against hemibiotrophic crop pathogens (effector triggered defence, ETD), including those that cause light leaf spot and phoma stem canker on oilseed rape, by contrast with operation of resistance against obligate biotrophic pathogens (effector triggered immunity, ETI). Crop disease control and climate change mitigation (reducing GHG from agriculture); projecting impacts of climate change on range and severity of arable crop diseases in the UK, China and Egypt, using weather-based disease epidemic models with simulated weather for different climate change scenarios. Long-term relationships between airborne pollutants and interactions between coexisting pathogens. Forecasting severity of crop disease epidemics by using sampling of airborne spores. Web-based versions of forecasts for oilseed rape diseases (e.g. light leaf spot and phoma stem canker) for use by the arable farming industry. Modelling potential spread of the phoma stem canker pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans into China in relation to Chinese government quarantine policy.
About your early experiences in education
I was originally planning to be a chemical engineer. Working between school and university, firstly in the chemical industry and then in horticulture, changed my mind. My flexible degree course enabled me to take one biology option in the first year, two in the second year and just applied biology in the final year. By the second year (tutored by David Ingram), I had decided to be a plant pathologist. I was a founder member of BSPP.
If you could solve one problem in plant pathology, what would it be?
To find a method to accurately assess the impacts of climate change on the severity of epidemics of different crop diseases, based on an understanding of the relationships (1) between weather factors and crop growth and (2)between weather factors and stages in the life cycles of the pathogens that cause those diseases
If you could solve one issue relating to inclusivity and diversity within the field of plant pathology what would it be?
To attract more UK students from the BAME community to study plant pathology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at University. Our University crop protection and climate change group includes colleagues from 10 different countries but almost all were born outside the UK.
If you weren’t a plant pathologist, what would you be?
Engineer or doctor