Rice blast, caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae, is the most devastating disease of cultivated rice and destroys enough rice each year to feed 60 million people.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Professor Sarah Gurr and Dr Dan Bebber as part of a new study have discovered that there is strong relationship between increased global temperatures over the past 50 years and expansion in the range of crop pests which could pose a serious threat to global food security.

Microbes and Disease

The Microbes & Disease group focuses largely on infectious diseases and the complex interactions between microbes and their hosts. The microbes that we study include bacteria, algae, fungi and fungus-like organisms. These include pathogens that infect humans and those that cause disease on crop plants, livestock and even insects such as honey-bees.

We are also interested in the responses of plants to abiotic stresses, and the fundamental biochemistry and molecular biology of plants and microbes. There is an emphasis on understanding host responses to infection and host-pathogen interactions at a systems level. We have specific strengths in plant pathogens, vaccine development, functional genomics and molecular signalling. We are also interested in utilising next generation sequencing to understand pathogen dynamics, and developing novel mathematical models of antibiotic utilisation. 

We have strong links with the Evolution and Cellular & Chemical Biology groups.

Research funding

Substantial research income is present in the group from:

  • Cariplo Foundation
  • Centre for Environment
  • Fisheries & Aquaculture Science
  • Cystic Fibrosis Trust
  • Dstl
  • DTRA
  • ERC
  • Halpin Trust
  • MRC
  • NERC
  • NiH
  • South West Biomedical iNET
  • Syngenta
  • Wellcome Trust