Skip to main content

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Dr Helen Eyles   (nee Fones )

Dr Helen Eyles (nee Fones )

UKRI Future Leaders Fellow

 Geoffrey Pope M05


Geoffrey Pope Building, University of Exeter , Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK


I'm a plant pathologist currently working on:
- Infection biology of Zymoseptoria tritici (Septoria Tritici Blotch of wheat), Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (ash dieback) and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense ('Panama' disease of banana).
- Anti-fungals vs phytopathogens

My main research interests are:
- Fungal and bacterial plant pathogens
- Plant defence signaling, stress signaling and crosstalk
- Climate change and food security
- Crop protection
- Metal hyperaccumulating plants


2006-2011: University of Oxford, UK.

DPhil. - ‘The Ecological and Evolutionary Significance of Disease Resistance in Metal Hyperaccumulating Plants.’  Supervised by Dr Gail M. Preston and Prof J. Andrew C. Smith, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, UK.

2005-2006: University of Birmingham, UK.

MSc (Distinction) ‘Conservation and Utilisation of Plant Genetic Resources’

2002-2005: St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford, UK.

BA Biological Sciences (First Class Honours).


2016- present: University of Exeter, UK. Research Fellow with Prof Sarah Gurr.

2013- 2016: Postdoctoral Research Assistant with Prof Sarah Gurr.  In these roles I am / have been involved in a number of projects including work on the lifecycle of the ash dieback pathogen, Chalara fraxinea and the Panama disease pathogen Fusarium oxysporum, as well as plant defence response to these fungi; the testing of novel antifungals; studying the effect of abiotic and biotic stresses on the susceptibility of wheat to fungal diseases, and investigation of the infection strategies of and natural variation in the wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici.

2011-2013: Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany.

2012-2013: Postdoctoral Researcher, AG Romeis; continuation of previous project

2011-2012: POINT Fellow, Dahlem Centre of Plant Science; AG Romeis.  '“Nutritional Stress” and the Priming of Plant Defence’: in this project I investigated the possibility that “nutritional stress” by deficiency or excess zinc or nitrogen may alter defence signalling through cross-talk via shared signalling components such as ROS, protein kinases or plant hormones.

Research group links

Back to top


Journal articles

Eyles H (In Press). Use of Chitin:DNA ratio to assess growth form in fungal cells. BMC Biology
Fones HN, Soanes D, Gurr SJ (2023). Epiphytic proliferation of Zymoseptoria tritici isolates on resistant wheat leaves. Fungal Genet Biol, 168 Abstract.  Author URL.
Fones HN, Bebber DP, Chaloner TM, Kay WT, Steinberg G, Gurr SJ (2020). Author Correction: Threats to global food security from emerging fungal and oomycete crop pathogens. Nature Food, 1(7), 455-456.
Fones HN (2020). Presence of ice-nucleating Pseudomonas on wheat leaves promotes Septoria tritici blotch disease (Zymoseptoria tritici) via a mutually beneficial interaction. Scientific Reports, 10(1). Abstract.
Fones HN, Bebber DP, Chaloner TM, Kay WT, Steinberg G, Gurr SJ (2020). Threats to global food security from emerging fungal and oomycete crop pathogens. Nature Food, 1(6), 332-342.
Chaloner TM, Fones HN, Varma V, Bebber DP, Gurr SJ (2019). A new mechanistic model of weather-dependent Septoria tritici blotch disease risk. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 374(1775). Abstract.  Author URL.
Kay WT, Fones HN, Gurr SJ (2019). Rapid loss of virulence during submergence of Z. tritici asexual spores. Fungal Genet Biol, 128, 14-19. Abstract.  Author URL.
Fones HN, Preston GM, Smith JAC (2019). Variation in defence strategies in the metal hyperaccumulator plant Noccaea caerulescens is indicative of synergies and trade-offs between forms of defence. R Soc Open Sci, 6(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Fones HN, Eyles CJ, Kay W, Cowper J, Gurr SJ (2017). A role for random, humidity-dependent epiphytic growth prior to invasion of wheat by Zymoseptoria tritici. Fungal Genetics and Biology, 106, 51-60.
Fones HN, Fisher MC, Gurr SJ (2017). Emerging Fungal Threats to Plants and Animals Challenge Agriculture and Ecosystem Resilience. Microbiol Spectr, 5(2). Abstract.  Author URL.
Fones HN, Gurr SJ (2017). NOXious gases and the unpredictability of emerging plant pathogens under climate change. BMC Biol, 15(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Fones HN, McCurrach H, Mithani A, Smith JAC, Preston GM (2016). Local adaptation is associated with zinc tolerance in <i>Pseudomonas</i> endophytes of the metal-hyperaccumulator plant <i>Noccaea caerulescens</i>. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1830).  Author URL.
Kilaru S, Schuster M, Latz M, Das Gupta S, Steinberg N, Fones H, Gurr SJ, Talbot NJ, Steinberg G (2015). A gene locus for targeted ectopic gene integration in Zymoseptoria tritici. Fungal Genet Biol, 79, 118-124. Abstract.  Author URL.
Fones HN, Steinberg G, Gurr SJ (2015). Measurement of virulence in Zymoseptoria tritici through low inoculum-density assays. Fungal Genet Biol, 79, 89-93. Abstract.  Author URL.
Jiménez-Guerrero I, Pérez-Montaño F, Monreal JA, Preston GM, Fones H, Vioque B, Ollero FJ, López-Baena FJ (2015). The <i>Sinorhizobium</i> (<i>Ensifer</i>) <i>fredii</i> HH103 Type 3 Secretion System Suppresses Early Defense Responses to Effectively Nodulate Soybean. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions®, 28(7), 790-799. Abstract.
Fones H, Gurr S (2015). The impact of Septoria tritici Blotch disease on wheat: an EU perspective. Fungal Genetics and Biology, 79, 3-7.
O'Leary BM, Rico A, McCraw S, Fones HN, Preston GM (2014). The Infiltration-centrifugation Technique for Extraction of Apoplastic Fluid from Plant Leaves Using &lt;em&gt;Phaseolus vulgaris&lt;/em&gt; as an Example. Journal of Visualized Experiments(94).
Hörger AC, Fones HN, Preston GM (2013). The current status of the elemental defense hypothesis in relation to pathogens. Frontiers in Plant Science, 4
Fones H, Preston GM (2013). The impact of transition metals on bacterial plant disease. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 37(4), 495-519.
Fones HN, Preston GM (2013). Trade‐offs between metal hyperaccumulation and induced disease resistance in metal hyperaccumulator plants. Plant Pathology, 62(S1), 63-71. Abstract.
Fones HN, Eyles CJ, Bennett MH, Smith JAC, Preston GM (2013). Uncoupling of reactive oxygen species accumulation and defence signalling in the metal hyperaccumulator plant Noccaea caerulescens. New Phytologist, 199(4), 916-924. Abstract.
Fones H, Preston GM (2011). Reactive oxygen and oxidative stress tolerance in plant pathogenic Pseudomonas. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 327(1), 1-8.
Fones H, Davis CAR, Rico A, Fang F, Smith JAC, Preston GM (2010). Metal Hyperaccumulation Armors Plants against Disease. PLoS Pathogens, 6(9), e1001093-e1001093.


Fones HN, Littlejohn GR (2018). From sample to data: Preparing, obtaining, and analyzing images of plant-pathogen interactions using confocal microscopy. In  (Ed) Methods in Molecular Biology, 257-262. Abstract.
Fones HN, Fisher MC, Gurr SJ (2017). Emerging fungal threats to plants and animals challenge agriculture and ecosystem resilience. In  (Ed) The Fungal Kingdom, 787-809. Abstract.

Back to top

Edit Profile