Research interests and projects
My research interest in a broad sense is the biology of (mainly agricultural) plant pathogens, how they emerge and evolve within the agricultural ecosystem, and how understanding of their interactions with their hosts and their ecology in the field can be used for practical disease management. My research is focused on oomycetes, the fungal-like, originally aquatic organisms that include some of the most devastating plant pathogens.
Soils artificially inoculated with Aphanomyces euteiches, showing the impact of Ca2+ on disease. 1.Suppressive soil 2. Conducive soil 3. Conducive soil + CaCO3 4. Conducive soil + CaSO4 . Heyman et al., Soil Biology & Biochemistry 39 (2007) 2222–2229
In my Ph.D. work I studied the pea root rot pathogen Aphanomyces euteiches. We showed that naturally occurring soil suppressiveness to the pea root rot disease is mainly caused by high calcium concentrations of the soil, which affect the ability of the pathogen to release zoospores, the main infective units of this oomycete. We also tested the effect of application of different calcium compounds in naturally infested fields as a possible means of disease control. PCR based detection of the pathogen in DNA extracted from soil was developed and evaluated as a method of soil testing. Finally, we used micro satellite markers to show that the population of the pathogen in Sweden was dominated by one genotype, while a diversity of genotypes were found in low frequencies.
Ph. D. thesis: Heyman, F., (2008). Root rot of pea caused by Aphanomyces euteiches. Calcium-dependent soil suppressiveness, molecular detection and population structure. Acta Universitatis agriculturae Sueciae 2008:24.
Currently, I am working with a similar root rot disease of pea and faba beans that is caused by a proposed new Phytophthora species. In an agronomy-oriented project we are interested in the basic biology of the pathogen and its implications for disease management. Read more!
In a molecular interaction oriented project, we work with the same Phytophthora species as a model to understand the interactions between pathogen and host. Of special interest is what genes and proteins are involved in determining the host spectrum of a Phytophthora species. Some species are specialised on a few closely related hosts, while closely related species can have the ability to infect hundreds of hosts from different plant families. Read more!