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The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Plant Sciences


Contact John Carr to find out more about the individual PhD projects in the Virology & Molecular Plant Pathology group.  See How to apply for contact details, to apply and general questions. See Google Scholar for publications.

Work in the group investigates plant defence against pathogens – in particular against viruses. We are interested in several areas that have fundamental importance in understanding plant and viral biology, and importance in the development of improved plant protection technologies. We collaborate closely with partners in sub- Saharan Africa and Korea.

Please contact Prof. Carr if you are interested in investigating one or more of the following PhD topics.

  1. Investigations of defensive signalling mediated by salicylic acid, jasmonic acid and other signals and the role of of RNA silencing on antiviral defence and plant defensive signal transduction.
  2. Investigating how viruses evade, exploit and manipulate the host plant’s defensive systems (see 1.).
  3. Understand how interactions between viral proteins with host factors and other viral proteins generate changes in developmental and biochemical phenotypes (symptoms) of the host and aid the virus to exploit its host.
  4. How virus-induced changes in host developmental and biochemical phenotype (see 3.) affect the interactions of the host plant with other organisms such as the insects that transmit viruses (vectors) and beneficial insects (e.g. pollinators).
  5. Investigate how basic research on virus-plant-insect interactions (see 4.) can be translated into methods to increase crop yield and decrease losses to disease (collaborations with African partners).
  6. Investigate how virus-induced changes in host developmental and biochemical phenotype might aid the ability of host plants to withstand abiotic stresses.
  7. Investigate how insect-pathogenic viruses (e.g. dicistroviruses) can exploit plants as ‘vectors’ to infect plants and how this information might be translated to develop new biological control methods to control aphid vectors of plant viruses.

Useful references

  • Groen, S.C., Wamonje, F.O., Murphy, A.M. and Carr, J.P. (2017). Engineering resistance to virus transmission. Current Opinion in Virology 26:20–27.
  • Palukaitis, P., Yoon, J.Y., Choi, S.K. and Carr, J.P. (2017). Manipulation of induced resistance to viruses. Current Opinion in Virology 26:141-148.
  • Lee, W.S., Fu, S.F., Li, Z., Murphy, A.M., Dobson, E.A., Garland, L., Chaluvadi, S.R., Lewsey, M.G., Nelson, R.S., and Carr, J.P. (2016). Salicylic acid treatment and expression of an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 1 transgene inhibits lethal symptoms and meristem invasion during tobacco mosaic virus infection in Nicotiana benthamiana. BMC Plant Biology 16:15
  • Wamonje, F.O., Michuki, G.N., Braidwood, L.A., Njuguna, J., Mutuku, J.M., Djikeng, A., Harvey, J.J.W., and Carr, J.P. (2017) Viral metagenomics of aphids present in bean and maize plots on mixed-use farms in Kenya reveals the presence of three dicistroviruses including a novel Big Sioux River virus-like dicistrovirus. Virology Journal 14:188.

Studentships currently available in this lab can be found below.  Please contact John Carr to talk about any studentships.  To apply or for administrative details please see the Postgraduate training section.