Applied Mycology and Bacteriology

The Applied Mycology and Bacteriology Group has a broad range of interests and specialisms relating to the interaction of microorganisms and plants and their effects on crop production. These include detailed aspects of infection and pathogenicity but also advanced methods of taxonomy, detection of fungi and bacteria and the involvement of microorganisms in food production and spoilage.


The group is keen to develop contacts with colleagues in associated areas which bring additional expertise and collaborations to widen the tools and applications of plant microbiology. Conferences are a major opportunity to achieve this and recent conferences organised by the Group include "Remote sensing in agriculture", "Mycotoxins in food production systems" and "Fungicide resistance – are we winning the battle but loosing the war?"


Future conferences on specialist applied microbiology topics are planned and the Group welcomes suggestions from AAB members and non-members for scientific conferences or other related activities. In addition the Group is looking to develop education materials to support school and college teaching in these areas.

Group Members



Rumiana Ray

Rumiana is an Associate Professor in Crop Pathology in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. Her current research is focused on the development of integrative strategies for the control of root, stem-base and ear diseases in cereals. The challenge is to devise control strategies that are effective against the pathogen complexes causing these diseases. The stem-base disease complex on cereals comprises of true eyespot, brown foot rot and sharp eyespot and often these three diseases occur simultaneously on the same plant stems. Brown foot rot is associated with many causal organisms, several Fusarium and Microdochium spp. also causing Fusarium head blight on cereals. Sharp eyespot is associated with a single causal fungal species, Rhizoctonia cerealis. We are working to integrate varietal resistance with chemical control, to understand the etiology and impact of these diseases and to model their epidemiology in relation to crop development and physiology.


Amanda Bennett

Dr Amanda Bennett is a Resource Management Scientist at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), responsible for a portfolio of applied research projects on soil management, soil biology and soil health.  Prior to joining AHDB she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Warwick, and has a background in soil-borne plant pathogens and microbial ecology in agricultural systems.


She has continued to develop her expertise in soil ecology and, in her current role, is leading on the Soil Biology and Soil Health Partnership, a five-year programme of work funded by AHDB in collaboration with the British Beet Research Organisation.


Neil Boonham

Neil is a Professor of Applied Crop Science at the University of Newcastle. His research focuses on development of targeted techniques for in-field and automated detection of pathogens. This encompasses development of diagnostic techniques to enable rapid decision making in the agri-food supply chain to the automated measurement of airborne inoculum; the goal is to provide end users with data enabling them to make more timely and effective management decisions. In addition the use of next generation sequencing for detection and characterisation of the causal agents of disease and virus discovery through to investigating the impact microbial communities have in modulating disease symptoms and severity.

Neil maintains a keen interest in Virology in particular the interaction between viruses and plant hosts, the evolution of virus species and the characterisation of persistent viruses in plants. Neil is currently a member of the UKRI, DEFRA and SASA-funded CALIBER project that looks at the biology and societal impact of the insect vectors of Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum. 

John Clarkson

John is a plant pathologist and research leader at the University of Warwick specialising mainly in pathogens of vegetable crops. His research interests include: Population biology of plant pathogens in wild and agricultural ecosystems, Ecology and epidemiology of plant pathogens, Biological control of plant pathogens, Plant disease forecasting and modelling, and developing systems to identify plant disease resistance​.


Neil Havis

Neil is a Crop Protection Team Leader at the SRUC. His research interests include: 1- Epidemiology, life cycle  and control of Ramularia leaf spot in barley, 2- Managing cereal and oilseed crops using Integrated Pest Management (including biopesticides and elicitors), 3- Developing new risk forecasts for fungal pathogens and incorporating into disease control progammes, 4- Developing new diagnostic assays for fungal pathogens, 5- Monitoring the development of reduced sensitivity to fungicides in fungal pathogens, 6- Monitoring the ear blight species complex in cereal crops and potential mycotoxin threat, 7- Control of late blight fungus in potatoes.


Faye Ritchie

Faye is an Associate Director for Entomology and Plant Pathology based at ADAS Boxworth in Cambridgeshire. Her current research is focused on the practical application of research to improve disease management in oilseed rape and potatoes. This includes developing integrated control strategies for the control of late blight on potatoes and light leaf spot on oilseed rape, as well as understanding drivers/developing practical strategies to manage the selection for fungicide resistance and virulence.


Jon West

Jon a Professor of Plant Pathology at Rothamsted Research, with extensive experience in applied multi-disciplinary crop protection projects. He obtained a BSc in Biology from Royal Holloway, London in 1990 and a PhD in Plant Pathology at Reading in 1994. At Rothamsted, since 1997, Jon's work has focussed on the biology and control of fungal diseases, measurement of plant disease resistance, the early detection of diseases by optical sensing and airborne-dispersal of spores. The latter is a key interest with implications for inoculum detection and forecasting, population studies, disease escape and crop tolerance.


Systems currently under investigation are, fusarium ear blight and septoria leaf blotch in wheat and sclerotinia and stem canker (blackleg) of oilseed rape. Jon is a member of the executive committee of the British Aerobiology Federation, a committee member of the applied mycology and bacteriology group of the Association of Applied Biologists and an Associate Editor for the European Journal of Plant Pathology .