Geoffrey Dixon 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 40 Faces Home Page.
Institution and country of residence
GreenGene International and School of Agriculture, Policy & Development, University of Reading
Company owner & Research Fellow-Visiting Professor
Area of expertise/study
Plasmodiophora brassicae – the causal agent of clubroot disease has dominated my professional life for over 50 years. Working as a research scientist and as an advisor to primary production and secondary product industries I have gained respect as an international authority for a host-pathogen complex now causing major economic losses worldwide. Clubroot cannot be cured only ameliorated by integrated disease management. My studies which started with the question “why lime” i.e. why does an alkaline environment reduce disease intensity? This typified my life time interest in the interaction between plant nutrition and diseases. This lead into many collaborations with the fertiliser industries some of which I still retain and to directly advising producers. The recent ravaging epidemic in the Canola crop in Canada worth 25.5 billion Canadian dollars where 7m ha of crop is at risk and disease spreading rapidly has brought long needed investment in research and advisory work and my involvement has brought me much pleasure. My sole regret is that I cannot shed 50 years of age and work actively in Alberta!
About your early experiences in education
My first degree in in Horticulture and doctoral degree in biochemical and physiological plant pathology both gained at Wye College (University of London) which makes me an alumnus of both Wye and Imperial Colleges. My interest in fungi was stimulated by 6 years working on a mushroom farm weekends and holidays while at grammar school in Guildford.
If you could solve one problem in plant pathology, what would it be?
Increase financial investment in plant pathological education because climate change makes it ever clearer that increased food production is imperative and pathogens account for substantial losses in growing crops and post harvest.
If you could solve one issue relating to inclusivity and diversity within the field of plant pathology what would it be?
Diminish consciousness of “differences” between people and encourage the acceptance that “people matter” irrespective of race, creed or colour.
If you weren’t a plant pathologist, what would you be?
Horticulturist and gardener and I’m those already!