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The main objective of the Plant Diseases and Vectors (PDV) group is to advance high-quality research on global, emerging or invasive agricultural pests and diseases that affect crop production, undermine food security and cause poverty around the world. We are particularly interested in understanding the impact of changing climate and global warming on pest and disease outbreaks and how that will affect livelihoods. We aim to utilise the knowledge and intellectual property gained from research to develop novel environmentally sustainable solutions, which involve modelling, forecasting, and innovative pest & disease management technologies. The development and promotion of integrated pest management (IPM) systems is at the core of our approach to decreasing use of pesticides.
 We underpin our research with plant science and microbiology research and aim to provide concerted application of natural and social sciences to reduce the losses caused by pests and diseases. This will improve food security through profitable farming which provides safe and healthy food, while sustaining biodiversity, protecting the environment and decreasing agriculture's carbon footprint. The Group's research activities are centred around:

  • Basic research on plant sciences and microbes including agricultural pests and diseases and the interaction with their host plants in changing climatic scenarios
  • Development of diagnostic systems for pest and disease organisms and their application for pest monitoring and surveillance
  • Tissue culture, chemo and thermos-therapies, and virus indexing (PCR and qPCR) technologies for generating virus-free planting material for better crop production
  • Developing clean and better seed systems (eg. cassava) by linking seed producers to research and growth markets
  • Understanding the mechanisms of virus disease resistance and resistance gene mining using RNA-Sequencing technologies, particularly in cassava and vegetables such as tomatoes and cucurbits
  • Exploring insect microbiome diversity by next generation sequencing technologies such as metagenome sequencing for understanding insect-bacterial infections, particularly in whiteflies.
  • Capacity-building in IPM and aspects of natural resource management in partner countries
  • Contributing to policy on pest management in agriculture and natural resource conservation
  • Adaptive research on IPM component technologies. Research and development on integrating IPM component technologies into practical and cost-effective pest management systems
  • Research and development on alternatives to synthetic biocides in pest and disease management with particular expertise in:
  • GM crops in IPM
  • Exploring mechanisms of resistance to pests and diseases in host plants
  • Understanding the impact of endosymbiotic bacteria on insect development and their potential use in pest control

Group Leaders

Professor Maruthi M N Gowda

Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology


+44 (0)1634 88 3957

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