Prof James Brown

Project Leader
Crop Genetics

James Brown researches the evolution of plant diseases to understand how pathogens adapt to plants, both in crops and natural populations, and how this knowledge can be exploited for disease control.

He is currently investigating the role of natural selection in a range of situations including fungicide insensitivity in powdery mildew, trade-offs between resistances to different types of fungal pathogens in cereals, and resistance of ash trees to dieback.

His research relates to the need to produce new crop varieties with elite standards of yield and quality and acceptable, all-round disease resistance.

James’s group studies fungal pathogens of crops, especially powdery mildew of barley and wheat, septoria tritici blotch of wheat and ramularia leaf spot of barley. He also uses computer modelling to investigate the co-evolution of plants and their parasites.


Tel: 01603 450615

Continental controls needed to maintain fightback against tree diseases

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John Innes Centre scientists solve 60 year old Septoria mystery

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Link between drought tolerance and resistance to leaf spot resistance identified

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New research projects announced to help save UK forests, woods and trees

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Recent Publications

McMullan M., Rafiqi M., Kaithakottil G., Clavijo B. J., Bilham L., Orton E., Percival-Alwyn L., Ward B. J., Edwards A., Saunders D. G. O., Garcia Accinelli G., Wright J., Verweij W., Koutsovoulos G., Yoshida K., Hosoya T., Williamson L., Jennings P., Ioos R., Husson C., Hietala A. M., Vivian-Smith A., Solheim H., MaClean D., Fosker C., Hall N., Brown J. K. M., Swarbreck D., Blaxter M., Downie J. A., Clark M. D. (2018)

The ash dieback invasion of Europe was founded by two genetically divergent individuals.

Nature ecology & evolution

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/s41559-018-0548-9

Orton E., Brasier C., Bilham L., Bansal A., Webber J., Brown J. (2018)

Population structure of the ash dieback pathogen, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, in relation to its mode of arrival in the UK.

Plant Pathology 67 p255-264

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/ppa.12762

Hehir J. G., Connolly C., O'Driscoll A., Lynch J. P., Spink J., Brown J. K. M., Doohan F., Mullins E. (2017)

Temporal and spatial field evaluations highlight the importance of the presymptomatic phase in supporting strong partial resistance in Triticum aestivum against Zymoseptoria tritici

Plant Pathology 67 p573-583

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/ppa.12780

Menguer P., Vincent T., Miller A. J., Brown J. K. M., Vincze E., Borg S., Holm P. B., Sanders D., Podar D. (2017)

Improving zinc accumulation in barley endosperm using HvMTP1, a transition metal transporter.

Plant Biotechnology Journal Plant Biotechnol J. 2017 Apr 24. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12749. [Epub ahead of print] pdoi: 10.1111/pbi.12749

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/pbi.12749

Arraiano L. S., Brown J. K. (2017)

Sources of resistance and susceptibility to Septoria tritici blotch of wheat.

Molecular plant pathology 18 p276-292

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/mpp.12482

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James Brown

  • Dr Laetitia Chartrain Research Assistant
  • Martha Clarke Research Assistant
  • Rachel Burns Research Assistant
  • Dr Elizabeth Orton Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Corinne Arnold Postgraduate Student
  • Cyrielle Ndougonna Postgraduate Student


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