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Professor Paul Birch

Professor Paul Birch

Paul Birch

 +44 (0)344 928 5428

The James Hutton Institute
 Dundee DD2 5DA
 Scotland UK


To be a successful pathogen, microbes need to suppress or otherwise manipulate host defences. For this, they secrete proteins and other chemicals that can interact with the host cell. In some cases, these virulence determinants are translocated inside host cells where they re-programme defences and metabolism to the pathogen’s benefit. My group focuses the oomycete late blight pathogen of potato, Phytophthora infestans.

We are particularly interested in ‘effector’ proteins that are translocated inside the host cell, in the mechanisms by which they are delivered and the means by which they are regulated in P. infestans. We want to know when they are needed and where they are localised during infection. We want to know the mode of action of such virulence determinants: what are their host targets and what roles do those targets play in plant defence, development or metabolism? We also want to identify those effectors that are recognised by resistance proteins in wild potato and non-host plants, and to elucidate the precise mechanisms underpinning recognition.

Leading Ideas

  • Crop and grassland production and disease control

Area of Strategic Research Programme

Further information the Scottish Government's Strategic Research Programme is available

  • Theme 2: Productive and sustainable land management and Rural Economies
  • 2.1 - Crop and Grassland Production and Disease Control
  • 2.1.6 Integrated pest management