Professor of Forest Pathology since 2007. My research interests and technologies applied are broad and diverse and includes among others; Molecular Tree - Microbe Interaction, Tree microbiomes, Metagenomics and Forest microbiology, Fungal genomics, Fungal population biology, Biological control of forest pathogens, Tropical forest pathology, Infection biology of phytopathogenic fungi and Resistance biology of forest trees. Our research acknowledges that the major threats to the sustainable supply of forest tree products (timber, bioenergy, biodiversity, recreation etc.) are climate change, pests and diseases. Today, the need to increase and safeguard those resources of renewable materials and bioenergy present major challenges for tree health biotechnology and bioeconomy programs. Our major research focus therefore has been the application of biotechnology knowledge and tools for the determination of ecological, molecular and biochemical pathways required by emerging fungal and forest pathogens to spread, infect and cause disease to trees worldwide. In addition, understanding the basal mechanisms on how forest trees resist infection is also our primary research goal.
More specific goals have been deciphering fungal pathogenicity factors by functional analysis of effector-like proteins of phytopathogenic fungi using the conifer tree pathogen (Heterobaisidon annosum) as a model. A major research question however is, why are certain fungi pathogenic whereas others are obligate saprotrophs or mutualists like mycorrhizal fungi?
Additional specific research focus is on the application of metabolomics and genomics approaches for screening conifer tree genotypes and clonal materials for resistance against the root and butt rot pathogen (Heterobasidion spp.). A further research objective explores the impact of tree microbiomes on forest tree health. Equally, we are also interested in understanding how forest trees are able to recognise some microbes as pathogen whereas they are able to form intimate beneficial association with others.
The result of this research will hopefully contribute to the design of novel disease control and management strategies for fungal pathogens of trees as well as form a necessary basis for selecting tree genotypes for resistance breeding and research.
Besides, I have been a member of the faculty interdisciplinary Master's Programme in Biotechnology. I am also an invited professor at Nanjing Forestry University in China
For further information about our research on the Forest Pathology Research Lab website.