University of the West of England AOD research team update

7th October, 2019

The University of the West of England AOD research team has had a busy and successful year with quite a few meetings, presentations and publications.

The first UWE-Woodland Heritage partnership-funded PhD student, Victoria Bueno-Gonzalez is coming to the end of her three year degree.

The first part of Victoria’s project has focussed on classifying several new Pseudomonas species which have been isolated from symptomatic oak, and may play a role in aiding the more virulent bacteria associated with AOD. She has recently had her first scientific publication accepted and has another two in preparation. The second part of her PhD has been to develop a rapid method to detect the four main bacteria in field samples in a single test. This has been an exciting advancement in the way we screen and identify isolates; there are many possible applications for Victoria’s technique and it has already become a routine method in our lab to aid us in keeping our lab samples pure.

On the back of Victoria’s successful partnership PhD, we approached Woodland Heritage and Forest Research to see if they would be interested in part-funding a second PhD student. Our application to UWE was successful and the second UWE-Woodland Heritage partnership-funded PhD student, Daniel Maddock, started in our lab at the beginning of October. Daniel’s project will be aimed at identifying new bacteria in the soil of symptomatic oak and comparing the soil microbial communities of symptomatic and non-symptomatic oak.

Carrie Brady (research fellow) is busy finishing up her project on the interactions between the bacteria causing the necrotic lesions in AOD-affected trees and plans to publish this work in the near future. She is also powering on with the taxonomy side of the project in an attempt to discover as many of the bacteria residing in oak as possible.

Victoria presented her research at the ‘Molecular Biology of Plant Pathogens’ conference at the John Innes Centre, Norwich in March, Carrie gave a review of the taxonomy of AOD-associated bacteria at the Action Oak meeting at Kew Gardens in June and Dawn presented an overview of UWE’s AOD research at the ‘Thinking Higher: towards biosecurity of forest trees’ meeting at BIFOR, University of Birmingham in July.

Prof. Dawn Arnold, Dr Carrie Brady, Victoria Bueno-Gonzales and Daniel Maddock.