The focus of our research is on plant biotic interactions - how plants interact with each other, with other organisms and with their environment.
Pests and pathogens can limit crop productivity while symbionts can benefit production by helping plants acquire mineral nutrients.
This research programme aims to develop a fundamental understanding of plant biotic interactions and to apply this knowledge to reduce crop losses and increase yields through improved nutrition.
The Institute Strategic Programme on Biotic Interactions for Crop Productivity (BIO)
Sharon goatgrass is a wild relative of wheat with high levels of resistance to wheat stem rust. This provides useful information which BIO researchers can use to unlock resistance in domesticated crops.
Stomata (shown in green) are pores on the surface of a leaf. They are required for plant gas exchange but are also prominent entry routes for a variety of pathogens. Understanding this interaction will assist in controlling disease.
Yellow rust disease is caused by a fungal pathogen and is one of wheat’s worst enemies. BIO researchers are looking to combat this disease to lessen its economic and environmental impact.
Our research has focused on the mechanisms that allow a chemical communication between plants and soil dwelling micro-organisms, and how this recognition is used to facilitate beneficial associations.