Joint Graduate School in Plant and Food Science


Plant pathology

Find below a description of our research in this area, and a list of potential supervisers.

About our research in plant pathology

Plant & Food Research has comprehensive knowledge of biology and ecology of plant pathogens and their microbial competitors. Plant & Food researchers develop alternative methods of pathogen control that minimise the use of traditional chemical controls, incorporating tools and techniques such as disease diagnostics and epidemiology, climate modelling and molecular pathology.

Research at The University of Auckland focuses mainly on virus diseases of plants and viruses infecting plant pathogenic fungi. Much of our plant virus research involves the study of previously undescribed viral diseases, with a particular emphasis on horticultural crops from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and New Zealand native plants.
 

Dr Kerry Everett


Plant & Food Research
Email: bioprotection@plantandfood.co.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Postharvest rots of avocados
  • Using molecular techniques to track pathogens in orchards
  • Ecology of pathogens in orchards and the interaction with weather events
  • Utilising 'other' generally regarded as safe (gras) compounds to supplement or replace conventional fungicides/bactericides
  • Ecology and epidemiology of Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae

 

Dr Damien Fleetwood


University of Auckland, School of Biological Sciences
Email: d.fleetwood@auckland.ac.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Plant-fungal communication in grass symbioses
  • Fungal genetics and comparative genomics
  • Structural biology of plant-associated fungi
  • Fungal transposons and the evolution of symbiosis
  • Native plant-fungal interactions

 

Associate Professor David Greenwood


Plant & Food Research
The University of Auckland
Email: bioprotection@plantandfood.co.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Proteomics and metabolomics analysis of microbes, plants and animals
  • Development of Systems Biology tools for analysis of metabolic pathways
  • Chemical ecology of plants and animals
  • Biosynthesis of natural products
  • Development of high resolution mass spectrometry technologies

 

Dr Ian Hallett


Plant & Food Research
Email: food.innovation@plantandfood.co.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Structural and histochemical aspects of fruit ripening and development
  • Plant/Pathogen interactions
  • Plant microstructure

 

Dr Robin MacDiarmid


Plant & Food Research
University of Auckland, School of Biological Sciences
Email: bioprotection@plantandfood.co.nz or robin.macdiarmid@auckland.ac.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Antiviral mechanisms of plants
  • Detection, identification and impact of plant viruses (e.g. generic detection methods, next generation sequencing, and drought tolerance or heat tolerance)
  • Signal cross-talk in plant stress responses (e.g. intersection of bacterial, viral and abiotic stress responses)
  • Methods to manage viruses (e.g. mild strain cross-protection, identification of resistance genes)
  • Identification, impact and management of viruses of bees and other insects important to horticulture

 

Associate Professor Mike Pearson


University of Auckland, School of Biological Sciences
Email: m.pearson@auckland.ac.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Detection and characterisation of plant viruses
  • Plant virus epidemiology
  • Detection and characterisation of mycoviruses
  • Mycoviruses as biological control agents
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Dr Erik Rikkerink


Plant & Food Research
Email: bioprotection@plantandfood.co.nz

Area of supervision:

  • Disease resistance and host-pathogen interaction research focussing on the host response to major fungal and bacterial pathogens of New Zealand's most significant fruit crops

 

Dr Viji Sarojini


University of Auckland, School of Chemical Sciences
Email: v.sarojini@auckland.ac.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Plant diseases: Fire Blight and Bacterial Canker of kiwi fruit
  • Antimicrobial peptides to inhibit bacterial biofilms
  • Model peptides with antiodixant properties
  • Dietary amino acids and proteins
  • Molecular mechanism of taste

 

Dr Grant Smith


Plant & Food Research
Email: bioprotection@plantandfood.co.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Integrated viral, in particular pararetroviral, sequences in plant genomes
  • Molecular diagnostics including the application of next generation sequencing technologies
  • Encoded proteins in viral sequences in plant infection and viral replication
  • Diversity and population structure of pathogen populations
  • Nanotechnology applications of pathogen proteins and structures

 

Associate Professor Matt Templeton


Plant & Food Research
The University of Auckland
Email: bioprotection@plantandfood.co.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Host pathogen interactions
  • Fungal genomics
  • Pathogen effectors
  • Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidae
  • Venturia inaequalis

 

Dr Silas Villas-Bôas


University of Auckland, School of Biological Sciences
Email: s.villas-boas@auckland.ac.nz

Area of supervision:

  • Metabolomics
  • Fungal physiology and metabolism
  • Natural products and bioactives
  • Metabolic modelling and systems biology
  • Microbial functional genomics

 

Dr Claudia Wiedow


Plant & Food Research
Email: breeding.genomics@plantandfood.co.nz

Areas of supervision:

  • Plant diversity studies
  • Molecular marker systems and mapping
  • High throughput techniques used in fruit genetics
  • Research towards marker assisted selection (MAS) for breeding programs

 

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