Dr Paul Nicholson

Project Leader
Crop Genetics

Paul’s research group works on the genetic basis for fungal disease resistance in cereal crops.

Paul uses natural and induced variation to identify areas of the genome which confer resistance to fungal disease, including take-all, eyespot and Fusarium head blight.

Paul uses QTL analysis to map the regions of the genome which are responsible for disease resistance and establish whether these genes have other unexpected consequences for crop health and performance.

  • QTL analysis of disease resistance in cereal crops
  • Building resistance to Fusarium head blight and eyespot
  • The influence of resistance genes on crop health and performance


The 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. 

The group 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.

They are actively engaged with plant breeders through our development of molecular markers to these resistances that enables breeders to incorporate them into new varieties.

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Recent Publications

Pasquariello M., Ham J., Burt C., Jahier J., Paillard S., Uauy C., Nicholson P. (2016)

The eyespot resistance genes Pch1 and Pch2 of wheat are not homoeoloci.

Theoretical and applied genetics online p1-17

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/s00122-016-2796-x

Nicholson P., Lemmens M., Steiner B., Sulyok M., Mesterhazy A., Buerstmayr H. (2016)

Masked mycotoxins: does breeding for enhanced Fusarium head blight resistance result in more deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside in new wheat varieties?

World Mycotoxin Journal 9 (5) p741-754

Publisher’s version: 10.3920/WMJ2015.2029

Burt C., Steed A., Gosman N., Lemmens M., Bird N., Ramirez Gonzalez R., Holdgate S., Nicholson P. (2015)

Mapping a Type 1 FHB resistance on chromosome 4AS of Triticum macha and deployment in combination with two Type 2 resistances.

Theoretical and Applied Genetics 128 p1725-38

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/s00122-015-2542-9

Burt C., Steed A., Gosman N., Bird N., Ramirez-Gonzalez N., Lemmens M., Holdgate S., Nicholson P. (2015)

Mapping a Type 1 FHB resistance on chromosome 4AS of Triticum macha and deployment in combination with two Type 2 resistances.

Theoretical and Applied Genetics

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/s00122-015-2542-9

Goddard R., Peraldi A., Ridout C., Nicholson P. (2014)

Enhanced Disease Resistance Caused by BRI1 Mutation Is Conserved Between Brachypodium distachyon and Barley ( Hordeum vulgare )

Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 27 p1095-1106

Publisher’s version: 10.1094/MPMI-03-14-0069-R

View All

Paul Nicholson

  • Martha Clarke Research Assistant
  • Mark Collins Lab Attendant
  • Joe Nicholson Lab Attendant
  • Dr Sarah De Vos Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Rachel Goddard Postgraduate Student
  • Andrew Steed Research Assistant


For media enquiries, please contact the JIC communications team 01603 450962, jic.communications@jic.ac.uk

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