Applied Plant Pathology



The Applied Plant Pathology Group has a broad range of interests and specialisms relating to disease epidemiology, plant-pathogen interactions, and the effects of plant disease on crop physiology and production. The group is interested in all aspects of disease control including chemical/biological methods, use of varietal resistance and early pathogen detection systems, disease sensing and forecasting.

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 integrated disease management for better crop protection. Recent conferences organised by the Group include “Remote sensing in agriculture”, “Mycotoxins in food production systems”, “Fungicide resistance – are we winning the battle but loosing the war?” and “Etiology and control of soil-borne disease”.

Future joint conferences with other societies on plant health topics are planned and the Group welcomes suggestions from AAB members and non-members for applied plant pathology topics or other related activities of mutual interest. The Group is also looking to develop education materials to support school and college teaching in these areas.

Group Convener

Rumiana Ray

Dr Rumiana Ray is an Associate Professor in Crop Pathology in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. Her work is focussed on the development of sustainable, integrated control strategies for Fusarium head blight of cereals, the soil-borne/stem-base disease complexes and Septoria tritici blotch of wheat. She has expertise and experience in the development of novel approaches and field technologies for pathogen/disease detection, inclusive of multispectral, hyperspectral and fluorescence signals; molecular diagnostics and chemical control. Second strand of her work is focussed on understanding of the plant immune response to fungal pathogens and physiological and genetic mechanisms of dual (host-pathogen) and tripartite (pest-host-pathogen) interactions. She is an Editor for Plant Pathology and Frontiers in Plant Science and works with industry stakeholders to improve field disease management and disseminate best practice to the agrii-community as publications and guidelines.

Group Members

Rachel McGauley

Rachel is a Senior Crop Protection Scientist at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), specialising and diseases of cereal and oilseed crops. She leads on the fungicide performance in wheat, barley and oilseed rape project and supports the creation of the Recommended List ratings. Prior to joining the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds team she was a Crop Protection Scientist for AHDB Horticulture specialising in fruit. She has a background in crop physiology and integrated pest management in horticultural crops and is passionate about applied research and providing farmers and growers with timely, practical advice.

Neil Havis

Neil leads the Carbon, Crop and Soil group at SRUC in Edinburgh. He gained his degree through the graduate exams in Crop Production science for the Institute of Biology (1990) and was awarded his PhD from Glasgow University (1993). His research interests include investigating the epidemiology, life cycle and control of Ramularia leaf spot in barley;  Incorporating biopesticides and elicitors into  integrated disease programmes  for cereals and oilseeds; Developing new risk forecasts for fungal pathogens and incorporating new technologies  into disease control progammes; Investigating the development of reduced sensitivity to fungicides in fungal pathogens;  evaluating the frequency and composition of fungal species in the  ear blight species complex in cereal crops and the subsequent potential mycotoxin threat.

Rob Jackson

Professor Rob Jackson is an expert in bacteria-plant interactions, making major contributions to the understanding of how pathogens cause disease and how pathogens evolve to evade host immunity. He also has interests in applied biology questions relating to biocontrol approaches to treat plant diseases.

Faye Ritchie

Faye is a plant pathologist and Associate Managing Director with ADAS, based at ADAS Boxworth in Cambridgeshire. She specialises in disease management for cereals, oilseed rape and potatoes, generating information that has practical relevance for growers. Her research interests include developing and understanding the impact of integrated disease management and fungicide resistance management strategies.

Jennifer Hodgetts

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​.

Jon West

Jon West is a senior research scientist at Rothamsted Research, working on applied crop protection projects. Jon obtained a BSc in Biology from Royal Holloway, London in 1990 and a PhD in Plant Pathology at Reading in 1994.  Jon’s work has focused on the biology and control of fungal diseases, including early warning of diseases by detecting airborne spores, optical sensing of disease symptoms, measurement of plant disease resistance and the survival and dispersal of spores.

Jon acts on committees including the Association of Applied Biologists applied plant pathology group and the British Crop Production Council diseases working group, is currently an associate editor for Frontiers in Agronomy and is a member of the British Society for Plant Pathology.  Previously, he was a member of the European Food Safety Authority plant health panel (2015-18) and was an associate editor for the European Journal of Plant Pathology and for Aerobiologia.  Jon is active in communicating science to the public.  He is a visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire and has been recognized with an honorary Professorship from the Anhui Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China.