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Laura Grenville-Briggs Didymus

Laura Grenville-Briggs Didymus
Professor of Integrated Plant Protection and Head of the Integrated Plant Protection Unit.

Presentation

As well as leading the Integrated Plant Protection Unit, I also lead my own research group, the Plant Pathology Lab. My own research group focuses on the molecular and genetic determinants of disease in oomycete and fungal plant pathogens in combination with molecular analysis of interactions between microbial biocontrol agents and their prey. We combine these mechanistic studies with applied research, testing combinations of biocontrol agents, plant probiotics and plant resistance inducers and disease modeling strategies, for effective disease control. This information is used to develop more durable, environmentally sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for plant diseases that are applicable both for large scale Swedish farmers and for smallholder farmers in Western Africa.

We focus on both horticultural and agricultural crops, including potato, cucumber, sugarbeet and cocoa. 

Teaching

Course leader: BI1267 (MSc) Integrated Pest Management in Sustainable Production Systems.

Research

Work in my group, is currently funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SciLifeLab, Swedish Research Council Formas, Swedish Research Council VR, The EU (Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network PROTECTA (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017-766048) and H2020 program grant Organic Plus,  The Crafoord Foundation and the Carl Tryggers Foundation, and is focused around the following projects:

1      Molecular analysis of oomycete cell wall biology in Phytophthora infestans  to discover new targets for disease control.

In this project we are interested in fundamental oomycete biology and development. We also hope to identify developmental checkpoints that could be targets for new drugs to stop oomycete growth.

2      Exploiting the biological activity, and effector repertoire, of the mycoparasitic oomycete Pythium oligandrum for disease control.

In this project we are interested in further developing P. oligandrum for use as a BCA. To do this, we study the biology of P. oligandrum, the pathogenicity determinants produced during host colonization and particularly the development, germination and dormancy determinants of oospores. Improving oospore germination should allow us to improve the use of P. oligandrum.

3      Identification and molecular analysis of oomycete effectors that act as silencing suppressors in host interactions.

In this project we are studying the role of specific effectors from P. infestans and other oomycetes that interfere with host defences.

4      Comparative genomics and transcriptomics of diverse and understudied oomycetes including sequencing the genomes and transcriptomes of:

◦       The Mycoparasites Pythium oligandrum and Pythium periplocum

◦       The entomopathogenic oomycete biological control agent Lagenidium giganteum

◦       The emerging food security threat, Phytophthora colocasiae (Taro leaf blight)

◦       The human pathogenic oomycete Pythium insidiosum

5      Environmental and ecological analysis of oomycete diversity, pathogenicity and community interactions in the soil and/or leaf microbiome.

In this project we are interested in identifying alternate hosts, overwintering of oomycete spores and environmental interactions between oomycetes and other microbes.

6      Comparative molecular analysis of the early blight fungus (Alternaria solani) and the late blight oomycete (Phytophthora infestans) and identification of core effectors as new targets for resistance breeding strategies.

In this project, we are studying competition or synergism between multiple pathogens on the same host plant and the implications of these interactions for disease control.

7     Towards sustainable cocoa production in Western Africa: epidemiology and control of cooca black pod disease and cocoa swollen shoot virus

In this project we are working with smallholder farmers to study the epidemiology and practical development of IPM control strategies for cocoa diseases in Sierre Leone, Togo and Nigeria.

8 Pathogen-Informed Resisance To Oomycete Diseases in Ecosystems, Agriculture and Aquaculture

In this recently started EU project we are working across Europe to understand effector biology, host resistance, biological control and management strategies for oomycete diseases across different sectors.

website: www.protecta-ITN.se

Background

2014-2018 Senior Researcher and group leader, Resistance Biology Unit, Department of Plant Protection Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

2006-2014. 39 months parental leave taken post-PhD

(including periods in Sweden and UK)

2012. Associate Professor  (Docent) in Microbial glycobiology, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

 2011-2013. Senior Researcher and Marie Curie Intra-European Research Fellow, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

2011. Post-graduate certificate of higher education teaching and learning, University of Aberdeen, UK.

2008-2011. Senior research fellow, Aberdeen Oomycete Laboratory, University of Aberdeen, UK.

2003-2008. Post-doctoral research fellow, Aberdeen Oomycete Laboratory, University of Aberdeen, UK.

2003. PhD in Microbial genetics/plant pathology, HRI, Wellesbourne and University of Birmingham, UK.

Supervision

PhD students:

Mohamed Luseni, 2018- present. SLU, main supervisor (expected completion 2021).

Dong Liang 2018- present. Nanjing Agricultural University, China, co-supervisor (expected completion 2020).

Linnea Almqvist 2018- present. SLU co-supervisor (expected completion 2021).

Sophie Brower 2016-present. SLU co-supervisor expected completion 2020).

Maja Brus 2015-present. SLU, main supervisor (expected completion 2019).

Mira Rur 2014-2017. SLU, co-supervisor (licenciate student).

Andrew Savory 2009-2013 University of Aberdeen, UK, co-supervisor

Martina Strittmatter 2007-2010 University of Aberdeen, UK, co-supervisor.

Neil Horner 2006-2009  University of Aberdeen, UK, co-supervisor.

Post-doctoral Fellows/Researchers

Cassidy Million          2018-2020 (SLU, main supervisor, Carl Tryggers funded)

Diya Sen                  2017-2019 (SLU, main supervisor, Crafoord funded)

Ramesh Vetukuri       2014-2019 (SLU, main supervisor, SSF funded).

Laura Masini             2015-2016 (SLU, co-supervised with Åsa Lankinen (Carl Tryggers funded).


Contact
Professor at the Institutionen för växtskyddsbiologi
Telephone: +4640-41 52 47
Postal address:
Växtskyddsbiologi, Box 102
23053 Alnarp
Visiting address: Sundsvägen 10, Alnarp

Publications list: