Molecular Plant Pathology and Fungal Biology Group

Andy Bailey and Gary Foster jointly manage the group which is based in laboratories within the School of Biological Sciences. From our backgrounds in the molecular biology of fungi and of plant viruses, we run several different research themes within our group, all of them using molecular biology methods to help understand how organisms regulate their growth and metabolism, plus for those that cause disease, how they interact with their hosts.

Plant virus research: Just as people can catch viruses, so can plants, often resulting in severe disease or even death of the plant. This can devastate crop production, threatening food security. It is important to understand how new viruses occur, how they can be diagnosed and how plants can combat these infections.

Fungal diseases of crops, mushrooms and insects: There are many species of fungus that can attack crop plants and other hosts, causing severe losses. To protect against these diseases, farmers have often resorted to chemical fungicides. We are researching how fungi invade and grow through their various hosts to cause disease, and how they may be controlled.

Mushroom biology: Cultivated mushrooms are susceptible to infection by various fungi, viruses and bacteria. Using information from model systems (related species that are easier to study in the laboratory such as Coprinopsis cinerea) we aim to find improved methods for controlling such diseases, for manipulating the crop to improve its characteristics and to exploit the tools developed to allow research into other related fungi.

Drugs from fungi: There are many different important medicines and other chemicals made by fungi, ranging from beneficial compounds such as antibiotics for treating infections or statins to lower your cholesterol levels, to dangerous toxins in mouldy grains that could cause cancer. We are interested in how these compounds are made and how they could be exploited.

We regularly host visiting researchers and are keen to be involved in further collaborative research in any of these areas – please contact either of us for further details.


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