The CerealPath training programme benefits enormously from the expertise of our pan-European, academic, agency and industry-based research supervisors.
Simon graduated from Brunel University with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Biology in 1986. After working as a research technician for two years at Leicester University, he joined ICI Seeds in 1988 where he developed the first RFLP linkage map for cultivated sunflower, which was the basis of his PhD thesis at Reading University. ICI Seeds became Zeneca Seeds, which in turn merged with the Dutch seed business Van der Have to form Advanta. At the time of this merger, Simon moved to SES in Belgium for three years continuing to work on sunflower markers (SSRs at that time), but in 2001, he returned to the UK to set a cereal marker lab in Docking, Norfolk. In 2005, Advanta was broken up and most of its European businesses became part of Limagrain. In Limagrain today, all the routine SNP marker work for all crops is centralised in France. Simon is currently responsible for the discovery of new genetic markers linked to traits of agronomic importance, the deployment of marker-assisted selection strategies in the UK winter wheat breeding programme and for collaborations with public research institutes and universities such as UCD.
There is a constant struggle between plants and their parasites: as plants evolve to become resistant to disease, parasites evolve to overcome that resistance. Consequently, crops in agriculture are exposed to a constantly changing population of different genotypes and species of parasites.
My group's research relates to the need to produce new crop varieties with elite standards of yield and quality and acceptable, all-round disease resistance. Much of our research concerns trade-offs between responses to different diseases and between disease resistance and other desirable traits, while we also research processes by which plants and parasites coevolve to become adapted to one another.
We work on several diseases, as appropriate for the research in question. Most of our work is on fungal pathogens of cereals, especially powdery mildew of barley and wheat, septoria tritici blotch of wheat and ramularia leaf spot of barley. Our research on coevolution uses of mathematical and computer modelling.
David B. Collinge was educated at Universities of Liverpool and Newcastle Upon Tyne (PhD, 1982). After postdocs at Århus University and the John Innes Institute, he was appointed Associate Professor in 1988 and Professor of Plant Pathology in 2002.
David's sustaining research interest is the mechanisms of defences against pathogens and his research group has worked with e.g., Barley (Hordeum vulgare) with Blumeria graminis and Fusarium graminearum, wheat with Septoria tritici. Other recent projects concerned induced resistance in rice against Rhizoctonia solani for Vietnam, Black Sigatoka disease of bananas in Uganda and interactions between the pathogen Fusarium graminearum with the antagonist, Clonostachys rosea.
David has published about 90 refereed publications (H-index of 33). He sits in the faculty and departmental PhD study boards and on the editorial boards of "European Journal of Plant Pathology" and "Plant Pathology" and serves on the Danish national advisory council for Plants and Plant Health.
Fiona Doohan studied Microbiology at University College Dublin and Plant Pathology at John Innes Centre (PhD, 1998). After a postdoc at John Innes, she moved to UCD where she was appointed College Lecturer in Molecular Plant Pathology. In 2014 she was appointed as Associate Professor in UCD. Fiona has led various UCD and National Scientific Developments, including a national doctoral training programme on Earth and Natural Sciences. Her "favourite" disease is Fusarium head blight of wheat, closely followed by Septoria tritici blotch of wheat. Her team are focused on identifying genes that facilitate disease resistance breeding, endophytes that enhance plant disease resistance and technologies that facilitate genetic engineering of plants. Fiona leads the CEREALPATH ETN training programme.
Angela moved to Ireland in 2013 where she is a lecturer in crop science at University College Dublin. This move was facilitated by receiving an FP7 Marie Curie Career Integration Grant.
Angela was educated at the University of Edinburgh, UK (PhD, 2005). Her research interest is in molecular plant-microbe interactions, particularly how fungal pathogens are able to overcome plant immunity to gain entry to the plant host. Currently her research group is focussed on the fungal pathogen of wheat Zymoseptoria tritici.
Trevor Hodkinson is an Associate Professor in Botany, Trinity College Dublin He runs an active research group and teaches Plant Science. He has a PhD in Botany and an MSc in Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources, from the University of Birmingham UK. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1995-1997) as a molecular systematist and has specialist knowledge of the grass family. His research interests have recently turned to fungal endophytes of grasses and barley in particular. He is an associate editor for the Journal 'Plant Ecology and Diversity' and was associate editor of 'Journal of Plant Research' until recently. He is currently part of a major FP7 KBBE collaborative project called GrassMargins. Publications can be found at his Google Scholar page.
Hans Jørgen Lyngs Jørgensen — M.Sc. in Agriculture (1988) and PhD in plant pathology (1992) from The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark, now part of University of Copenhagen. Associate Professor here in 1998.
Research interests include infection biology of fungal pathogens and defence responses against infection. Focus is on cereal pathogens, but has also included a range of biotrophic, hemibiotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens in both monocots and dicots. Current emphasis is on the wheat disease speckled leaf blotch. Another major interest is alternative disease control with particular emphasis on induced resistance, using chemicals, microorganisms (fungi and bacteria), endophytes and plant extracts (botanicals). A third research interest is on diseases in tropical crops and this has included collaboration with universities in India (University of Mysore), Vietnam (Can Tho University) and Uganda (Makerere University). Other tasks: Associate Editor European Journal of Plant Pathology.
Birgit Jensen is an Associate Professor in plant associated microbial interactions. She has a PhD in Plant Pathology from University of Copenhagen. The three-way interactions between plants, pathogenic fungi and beneficial microbes are major research interest. To this end the diversity and ecology of beneficial microbes along with their isolation from various niches, e.g., endophytes is important. Studies on efficacy of the mycoparasitic fungus Clonostachys rosea for alleviation of various plant stresses, e.g., plant pathogens and phosphorous depletion as well as the mechanisms involved, are other focus areas. Currently combination of beneficial microbes to obtain stability and synergistic effects on plant performance is studied.
Prof. Karl-Heinz Kogel studied Biology and Social Sciences at the RWTH Aachen, Germany. He got his PhD in 1984 for his work on interactions of cereals with fungal pathogens. He then continued his scientific career with a postdoc in Nathan Sharon's lab at the Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Breeding Research at Cologne, Germany. Thereafter, he worked as a group leader at the RWTH Aachen on powdery mildew diseases. Since 1996, he is Professor at the Justus Liebig University, Giessen, as head of the department of Phytopathology. From 2000 to 2005 Prof. Kogel was member of a senate commission of the German Research Council and from 2006 to 2009 Vice President of the University. Prof. Kogel's research focus is on cereal diseases and symbioses. Concerning the agricultural research he explores combinations of biological and biotechnical solutions in cereal cropping systems.
A Senior Research Officer in the Deptartment Crop Science (Oak Park, Carlow), Dr. Ewen Mullins oversees a research programme that is focussed on investigating the potential of genetic engineering to tackle economically important crop diseases. Awarded a PhD in plant pathology (1996) from University College Cork, he completed several years post-doc experience with the USDA - ARS and The Pennsylvania State University before commencing employment with Teagasc in 2002. Since then his primary research goals relate to identifying sources of resistance to economically important cereal diseases, while also being a member of the FP7 funded 'AMIGA' research consortium, which is tasked with assessing and monitoring the impact on the agri-environment of a GM potato with late blight resistance.
Our lab is identifying and characterising resistances to two disease complexes of cereals.
Fusarium head blight (FHB) of cereals reduces yield and contaminates grain with harmful mycotoxins while, at the other end of the plant eyespot damages the stem base, causing plants to fall over, again leading to yield loss. Identifying resistance to both diseases is difficult because resistance is quantitative with varieties being only more or less susceptible and never completely resistant. Improving FHB resistance is particularly difficult because of interactions with the environment and trade-off between resistance and agronomically important traits such as plant height.
We have identified novel FHB and eyespot resistances and are characterising the most potent of these with the aim of cloning the genes responsible in order to understand how resistance functions. We are actively engaged with plant breeders through our development of molecular markers to these resistances that enables breeders to incorporate them into new varieties.
Olivier Robert has been working at Florimond Desprez since 2011 as the Manager of the Laboratory of Genetic and Biometry (LGB). Between his PhD on wheat stripe rust resistance (1998) and his current work, he has been a scientist with the GIE Club5 and then the Project Manager of the GIE Bioplante where he mainly managed pre-breeding programs and collaborative projects.
The Laboratory of Genetic and Biometry is currently participating in more than 30 collaborative projects on different crops such as bread wheat, durum, triticale, pea, chicory and sugar beet. Scientists of the LGB are involved in applied studies (i.e. pre-breeding programs) as well as in more fundamental studies (i.e. genetic diversity, QTL analysis, GWAS and genomic selection). Furthermore, the LGB acquired solid knowledge in informatics and bio informatics in order to study DNA sequences.
Dr Robert manages a lab that is an interface between academic research and breeding.
Patrick Schweizer obtained his PhD degree in 1988 at the Institute of Plant Physiology, University of Berne, Switzerland, in the field of molecular plant-pathogen interactions. After a few postdoctoral stays with Prof. Klaus Hahlbrock at the Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung in Cologne, Germany, with Sandoz Agro Co. in Basel, Switzerland, and with Prof. Jean Pierre Métraux, University of Fribourg, Switzerland, he became appointed as senior scientist by Prof. Robert Dudler at the Institute of Plant Biology, University of Zürich, Switzerland.
Since 2000 he is research group leader at the Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben, Germany. In 2001 Patrick Schweizer obtained his habilitation at the Faculty of Mathematics and Science of the University of Zürich, and since 2006 he is also leading the Genome Analysis program in the Breeding Research department at IPK.
Research of the lab focuses primarily on functional genomics approaches for durable pathogen resistance in barley and wheat. For a better understanding of genes involved in basal as well as nonhost resistance, the group has developed novel tools of functional genomics based on medium- to high-throughput RNAi and automated microscopy. Together with transcript profiling approaches, transgenic barley, and allele mining gene discovery is achieved.
Our lab seeks to identify genes underlying wheat QTL with significant agronomic impact, understand the mechanism by which they function and using this knowledge, facilitate their effective deployment into modern breeding varieties.
We are currently using molecular genetics approaches to: identify the genes responsible for key yield and quality traits in UK wheat germplasm; understand the interaction between wheat and the yellow rust fungal pathogen develop genetic resources to enable effective translational research from model systems to crop species; enhance the pipeline to translate this new knowledge into improved wheat varieties for growers, industry and consumers.
Pat Ward is Technical Director of Auranta and is responsibility for new product development and legislative compliance. Pat is a professional microbiologist with fifteen years experience in both academia and industry. He gained a PhD from University College Dublin (UCD) for his work on microbial production of bioplastics from waste materials. He spent four years as a postdoctoral researcher with UCD and five years as R&D manager with an Irish food packaging company where he was responsible for the development and commercialisation of new products.
Brande is a molecular plant pathologist and geneticist. He is using genome complexity reduction and next generation sequencing on structured populations of wheat to identify genes restricting the causal agents of wheat stem rust and Septoria tritici blotch, two major fungal diseases of wheat. His longterm aim is to use cloned genes to engineer durable resistance to these diseases in wheat. Prior to joining the JIC Crop Genetics Department, Brande worked as Research Manager of The Sainsbury Laboratory 2Blades Group (2010-2014), and as a postdoctoral fellow in the IBMCP-Valencia and IBMP-Strasbourg. He received his PhD from The Sainsbury Laboratory in 2002.