Durable resistance to Phytophthora cactorum in strawberry and apple

NIAB EMR: Dr. Charlotte F. Nellist,
University of Reading: Prof. Jim Dunwell


The oomycete pathogen Phytophthora cactorum causes disease in over 250 plant species, including causing economic losses in cultivated strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) and apple (Malus x domestica). P. cactorum is the causative agent of crown rot and leather rot diseases in strawberry, as well as crown rot, collar rot and root rot diseases in apple. Extensive work has been carried out at NIAB EMR identifying resistance quantitative trait loci (QTL) in response to isolates of P. cactorum from strawberry (Nellist et al. 2018), as well as sequencing 19 isolates of P. cactorum from both strawberry and apple. Isolates of P. cactorum from apple are unable to cause disease in strawberry, and so further work is required to explore non-host (broad-spectrum and durable) resistance to these isolates. In addition to this, apple rootstock germplasm will be screened for resistance/susceptibility to isolates of P. cactorum from apple and QTL mapping will be performed. Pathogenicity screens with isolates of P. cactorum from strawberry will also be performed and non-host resistance in apple to these isolates will be explored.

The successful candidate will gain a wide range of experience in plant pathology, including working with two important horticultural crops and economically important pathogens, running disease trials in a range of facilities, molecular genetics including analysis of expression studies, statistical analyses and bioinformatics. Moreover, this project is relevant to the UK horticulture industry because it will advance our understanding of the molecular basis of resistance to these economically important pathogens and ultimately result in the production of disease-resistant breeding material.

Applicants should have (or expect to have) an Honours Degree (or equivalent) with a minimum of a 2.i, in a Plant Science, Plant Biology or Biological Sciences related degree. The successful candidate will be based at NIAB EMR, Kent.

Anyone interested should send your application (CV, cover letter, personal statement and two names for reference) to  recruitment@emr.ac.uk, citing the project reference. Application deadline is 13 April 2018. Please send all informal enquires to Dr. Charlotte Nellist, charlotte.nellist@emr.ac.uk.


  1. Nellist CF, Vickerstaff RJ, Sobczyk MK, Marina-Montes C, Brain P, Wilson FM, Simpson DW, Whitehouse AB, Harrison RJ. (2018) Quantitative Trait Loci Controlling Phytophthora cactorum Resistance in the Cultivated Octoploid Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa). https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/01/18/249573
  2. Lee H-A, Lee H-Y, Seo E, Lee J, Kim S-B, Oh S, Choi E, Choi E, Lee SE and Choi D. (2017) Current understandings of plant nonhost resistance. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 30:1, 5-15. https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/abs/10.1094/MPMI-10-16-0213-CR