The main aim of this group is to promote Plant Virology as a subject, both in the UK and overseas through innovative outreaching activities such as organising conferences and workshops and bringing people together for discussions and meetings on recent developments in the area. To this effect, the group organizes a 3-day conference ‘Advances in Virology’ every 18 months mainly aiming to encourage PhD students and early career scientists to take up and/or continue working on plant viruses. We also offer two student-specific competitions at the conference – the Bryan Harrison prize for the best oral presentation and the Raymond and Roger Hull prize for the best poster presentation. 

In order to foster links between UK and overseas plant virologists especially to help grow the number of people working on plant viruses within Europe, the Virology Group Committee includes members from European countries (currently Spain). Please get in touch with the Convenor if you are interested in becoming part of the group.


Miguel Aranda

Prof Miguel A. Aranda works at the Department of Stress and Plant Pathology of “Del Segura” Center for Applied Biology (CEBAS) from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).

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Group Members

Andrew Love

Andrew is a Research Leader in Cell and Molecular Sciences at the James Hutton Institute.

Charlotte Nellist

Charlotte is a Senior Research Scientist focusing on durable disease resistance in the Genetics, Genomics and Breeding Department at NIAB EMR, Kent.

Gerard Clover

Gerard is Head of Plant Health in the Royal Horticultural Society in Wisley, Surrey. He is responsible for leading the RHS’s team of plant pathologists and entomologists and developing a programme of research to monitor, identify and control pests and diseases of horticultural plants, answer member enquiries, and disseminate information about pests and diseases.


He obtained his PhD in 1997 from the University of Nottingham having studied the interaction of Beet yellows virus and drought on the growth and physiology of sugar beet. He was then employed by the Central Science Laboratory as a post-doctoral scientist to research the biology of and detection methods for soil-borne cereal viruses. In 2001 he moved to New Zealand to work as a virologist in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s reference laboratory (Plant Health & Environment Laboratory) identifying new viruses, viroids and phytoplasmas in quarantine and during surveillance post-border. He subsequently moved into regulatory policy setting the import requirements for imported plants. In 2007 he moved back to the Plant Health & Environment Laboratory to manage the virology team and to set up a quarantine service to enable the importation of agricultural crops. In 2010 he became overall manager of the reference laboratory before moving back to the UK to join the RHS in 2013.

His main area of research is the detection, characterisation and management of virus and virus-like diseases.

Jens Tilsner

Jens Tilsner is a Lecturer in Plant Molecular Virology at the University of St Andrews and the James Hutton Institute, Dundee. His lab uses cell biology, including RNA in vivo imaging, molecular biology and biochemistry to investigate the mechanisms by which plant viruses spread through their host via intercellular nano-channels (plasmodesmata).

Jens graduated from the University of Bayreuth, Germany in 1999 with a diploma (MSc) in plant ecology. He obtained a PhD in plant biochemistry from the Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany, in 2003. Since moving to Scotland in 2003, he has been working on plant virus cell-to-cell transport, first as a Marie Curie fellow at Edinburgh University and a postdoctoral researcher at the Scottish Crop research Institute (now James Hutton Institute), since 2012 as an independent research fellow in St Andrews. He was obtained a lectureship at St Andrews in 2015.

John Walsh

John is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick.

The research on the so-called Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV), led by Dr John Walsh of the University of Warwick and funded under the BBSRC Crop Science Initiative, has been taken forward in a new partnership with Syngenta Seeds. 

Dr Walsh said “TuMV causes really nasty-looking black necrotic spots on the plants it infects - ‘a pox on your’ vegetables! This can cause significant yield losses and often leaves an entire crop unfit for marketing. At best, a field of badly affected Brussels sprouts might provide some animal fodder, but these vegetables would not be appealing to most shoppers. The virus is particularly difficult to control because it is transmitted so rapidly to plants by the insect vectors” 

Dr Walsh and his team identified the major gene involved in resistance to TuMV and discovered that the way in which it creates resistance is completely new. Using this knowledge, they found that it was possible to identify plants with an inherent resistance that could be used to speed up the breeding process and develop commercial varieties that are resistant to TuMV. 

The team from University of Warwick are now working with industry partner Syngenta Seeds to breed resistance into Chinese cabbage. They hope in future to do the same with other crops such as broccoli, cabbage and kale.

Trisna Tungadi

Trisna is a Postdoctoral Researcher. She currently works with Prof John Carr at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK.

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