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Plant-Parasite Interactions Group

Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

The Lab:

The overarching theme of our group is to combine genomics and molecular biology to understand fundamental questions in host:parasite biology. We primarily focus on plant-parasitic nematodes because: i) they are a threat to food security in developed and developing countries, and ii) underlying this threat is a wealth of fascinating biology that until very recently has been largely unexplorable.

The group is proudly international, diverse, and welcoming. We are always open to sharing ideas and resources to address interesting questions. Several past/present members of the lab held or hold international fellowships and studentships, and we support applications at all career stages. The lab is currently funded by the Biology and Biotechnology Research Council (BBSRC), the Wellcome Trust and Newton Trust, The Rank fund, and the European Union Horizon 2020 programme (ERC).

If you are interested in joining the lab as a under/post-graduate student or post doctoral research fellow, please get in contact for informal discussions and further details. We are particularly keen to support Marie Curie/EMBO/Discovery fellows in the areas of Effector biology, Horizontal Gene Transfer, Cell wall biology/degradation during infection, and Mitochondrial genome evolution.



The HYP is real!
May 2024

Now out in print in Cell Genomics

Working hypothesis is that for some nematode effectors there is a mechanism conceptually similar, but functionally very different, to V(D)J immunoglobulins.


Lab outing to... the vault
May 2024

Stunning every time


Lab goes to ESN2024
April 2024

Congrats all on the fab talks and Anika on the talk prize!

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Lab Lunch
March 2024

Beatrice (lab alum) back for a visit - fab excuse for a lab lunch.


Birthday surprise
February 2024

Massive thank you to SEVDA lab for the wonderful birthday surprise!

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New paper on HGT
February 2024


Preprint alert! - SUGR!!!
January 2024

The SUbventral-Gland master Regulator (SUGR) of nematode virulence is central to a feed forward loop for host entry.

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Preprint alert! - The effector network
January 2024

We used targeted gland cell transcriptomics to define an - as complete as we can - effectorome for a plant parasitic nematode (and then analysed it)


Congrats to Beth at AAB conference
December 2023

Congratulations Beth on the Brian Kerry Prize!!!


Lab bonfire!
November 2023

Axe throwing, bonfire (with "strawmatode Guy"), fireworks, and a lot of fun!


Dr Kranse!
October 2023

Congratulations on the Viva Olaf!

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New preprint!
October 2023

A gene with a thousand alleles!

Most interest are the "rules" that govern how the alleles differ.


New preprint
September 2023

Amazing new capability to visualise mRNA in plant-parasitic nematodes. Finally an in situ protocol that works (alot)more often than not!


Leaving do for Beatrice
September 2023

Mixed emotions! Happy for her but sad for us - thanks for everything Bea!


Happy hour!
August 2023

Plant Sciences Summer student happy hour at CSC! So impressive!

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Pioneer success!
July 2023

Pioneer awards (early-stage frontier bioscience research) success to work on sex determination in plant-parasitic nematodes.


July 2023

Meeting up with various nematode-people at MPMI2023


New paper
July 2023

Opinion piece on the functions of effectors with Beth and Thomas. 


We think more emphasis should be placed on development- and physiology-altering effectors because: a) its interesting, and b) it might be useful.

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Festival of Plants!
June 2023

The Eves-van den Akker and Derevnina Labs hosted a plant pathology stand at the Festival of Plants. Which nematode are you?


Lab day out!
May 2023

... and no one fell in!


Fun paper out about the King's meadow
May 2023

Bit different from what we normally do, but a lot of fun (and some nematodes!)

pic from Martin Bond


March 2023

Hurrah! Lab has been awarded a Leverhulme grant to push forward our efforts on transformation of plant-parasitic nematodes. Watch this space!


Lunch with Sally
March 2023

Sally from Warwick visited to learn H. schachtii culture - good excuse for lab lunch (giggling squid!).


January 2023

Plant shopping with the lab - spot the scientists!


Were hiring!
January 2023

We invite applications for a laboratory technician!


Game night!
December 2022

Game night!

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New paper!
November 2022


October 2022


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New paper from the lab
October 2022

The H. schachtii genome and transcriptome.

All the data are here:

and here:

paper here:

Behind the paper commentary here:


Lab outing!
September 2022

Fun afternoon of escape rooms and cocktails!

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New pre-print from the lab.
July 2022

New pre-print from the lab on low-cost imaging of nematode infection. First important step down an exciting road.


Welcome Welcome Welcome.
July 2022

Welcome to Thomas, Sarah Jane, and Mariam!


Farewell Andrea!
May 2022

Thank you for joining our team Andrea - it was a pleasure hosting you!


Congratulations, once again, Olaf!
May 2022

Congrats to Olaf for winning the 1st place poster prize at the ICN2022!!


Welcome Thomas Baum!
April 2022

Prof Thomas Baum joins the lab on sabbatical as a BSPP Visiting Professor and Visiting Fellow in Clare Hall.


Virtual nematode infection!
March 2022

Breaking news - The Arabidopsis ePlant has been infected by nematodes!!!


Pick *any* A. thaliana gene and see how nematode infection alters its expression


Data from:… 

Huge thanks to the ePlant team.


All aboard!
February 2022

Literally everyone in the lab has been chipping in on a truly massive project - cannot wait to see how this turns out!


ERC success!
January 2022

It's the most fantastic news!!! We have been awarded an ERC starting grant to explore effector biogenesis in plant-parasitic nematodes.

New PhD and PDRA positions to open soon.


Congratulations Olaf!
December 2021

Huge congrats to Olaf for winning the best platform presentation prize at AAB conference for his talk on "the machine"


Paper Alert!
November 2021

We finally found a "SUG box"! Using targeted transcriptomics of gland cells we found many new effectors and first cis-regulatory element associated with sub-ventral glands, SUG box!



Warm welcome drinks to all the new members of the lab!
October 2021

Very warm welcome to Kerry, Siyuan, Victor, and Anika


Paper Alert!
October 2021

New S genes against Nematodes. Conceptualising plant and parasitic-nematode as a "hologenome", we use congruent differential expression of metabolic pathways to find new S genes involved in trans-kingdom VitB5 biosynth.


Lab day out
September 2021

After visiting the King's chapel roof - here we are having lunch in the Eagle. (7).gif

Amazing time-lapse of nematode infection
September 2021

We've been tracking cyst nematode infection (43 days so far) Had to reduce quality a lot for upload, but holy smokes! Still need to optimise lighting, but basically this setup (effectively just a camera, not microscope) will work.


New labs!
July 2021

A busy week packing and unpacking! Very excited to move a whole 2.3 miles down the road to the new Crop Science Centre. Exciting times ahead - the lab enjoying well-deserved pizza on the terrace


Welcome Beth Molloy!
July 2021

Very pleased to have Beth join us on an an RSB Plant health undergraduate studentship to work with team "regulation"

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Lab day out!
June 2021

Fab lab day out punting from Cam to Granchester and back!


10-week paid 'wet-lab' summer internship available in our group
April 2021

10-week paid 'wet-lab' summer internship funded by RSB and DEFRA available in the lab entitled, "Setting up target-based screening in plant-pathology: disrupting the "conductors" of plant-nematode parasitism"

Apply here:

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Some more Current opinions on Plant-nematode interactions!
April 2021

"How has biotechnology, in its broadest sense, helped elucidate plant-nematode biology?" That is the question we (Lieve, Boris, and me) were tasked to answer by Current Opinion in Biotechnology.


New preprint on Mel-DOG!
April 2021

Congratulations Caroline on our latest preprint in collaboration with Etienne Danchin - about the Meloidogyne DOG box (a non-coding effector promoter in root knot nematodes).

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Some Current opinions on Plant-nematode interactions
April 2021

Some Current opinions in Plant Biology on Plant-nematode interactions


Congratulations Victor - awarded an MCSA fellowship to join the lab
February 2021

Huge congratulations to Victor Hugo M. de Souza who was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Fellowship to join the group in the summer. Exiting project on the host range paradox of root knot nematodes - looking forward to working together.


Making the sometimes intangible, tangible.
February 2021

The Covid-safe equivalent of handing out 3D-printed effector protein structures to the students after the plant pathology lecture block is a lot more tiring!


Answering one of the top 10 questions in MPMI
January 2021

Out in First Look MPMI journal.


Sol, Erica, and I tried to answer one of the top 10 questions raised by the field at the IS-MPMI


MPMI researchers: "How do pathogens evolve novel virulence activities?"

Us: "How don't they?"


Welcome Beatrice!
December 2020

A warm welcome to Beatrice who joins the lab as a technician.


SEvdA lab joins Faculty opinions
November 2020

SEvdA lab joins Faculty opinions. Follow to see highlights of our favourite research papers in the field of plant-microbe (and in particular plant-nematode) interactions.


Welcome Ko!
October 2020

A warm welcome to the lab to Ko - and thank you BSPP for funding his MSc Thesis on horizontal gene transfer from plants to parasitic nematodes.

A mysterious and unknown plant pest was "detected" Cambridge (Eves-van den Akker lab).

September 09, 2020

A mysterious and unknown plant pest was "detected" Cambridge (Eves-van den Akker lab - attached). The first outbreak was at the end of 2019 at the EPPO Secretariat. It is feared that it might spread across the world during the International Year of Plant Health.

Plant Health Undergraduate studentship in the lab

September 08, 2020

We will be hosting another Royal Society of Biology Plant Health Undergraduate studentship in the lab next summer (probably...hopefully?).


Check out all projects here:


Thanks @RoyalSocBio and DEFRA for supporting the project.

Nematodes on the radio!

August 22, 2020

Was live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with the "Naked Scientists" talking about nematodes and other plant diseases as part of a program on plants and climate change.

Podcast here

Nematodes on the front cover of The Plant Journal

August 17, 2020

Collaboration with Somnath Pokhare, The James Hutton Institute and The University of Bonn on host jumps in plant-parasitic nematodes received research highlight and the front cover.

First preprint from the lab, and its about transformation of plant-parasitic nematodes

July 14, 2020

With the help of BBSRC we started the TransPPN consortium 5 years ago. First output on the road to transforming plant-parasitic nematodes. Take home message? Not there yet, but finally making progress!

Big thanks to everyone in the consortium for sticking with a tough project and the funding bodies for making it possible (BBSRC, Wellcome, Newton, Synthego, Genewiz)

Meeting of the wild flower meadow working group

July 14, 2020

First face-to-face meeting in months! Properly physically distanced wild flower meadow working group actually in the wild flower meadow!

3D printed face shield in preparation for the return to the lab

March 20, 2020

We used the 3D printer, following instructions online, to make some face shields:

A warm welcome to Caroline - new Marie Curie Fellow joining the lab

March 31, 2020

A strange time to "join" the lab during the Univserity shutdown, but a very warm welcome to Caroline Bournaud all the same.

Her project will be in collaboration with Etienne Danchin at INRAE Sophia Antipolis, with the aim of understanding the transcriptional regulation of root-knot nematode effectors.

Pandemic - lab hibernating

March 20, 2020

PPE donated, qPCR machines primed and ready to go if needs be, and staff joined the waiting list for helping in the "detection factories" to be setup - the Department and lab are now officially closed for the pandemic.

Huge effort all round - thanks to everyone in the lab, department, and school.

Huge congrats to Clement for being awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship

February 04, 2020

Huge achievement - well deserved - and cant wait to see the results of this project. Time to celebrate!

3D printed structures of nematode effectors

January 06, 2020

Printed in a kind of semi-flexible plastic - quite cool for first attempt, next order on way.

Merry Christmas!

December 11, 2019

Secret Santa

Farewell to Alper Akay - off to start his own Lab!

December 01, 2019

Wishing you all the best!

Hurrah! Nanopore arrived

November 14, 2019

Hurrah! Nanopore arrived - Early Christmas present for the lab

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween! Nothing scarier than food insecurity

Warm welcome to Unnati

October 08, 2019

Warm welcome to Unnati joining the lab from Virginia tech. Unnati's project will be on the bizarre juxtaposition of variability and stability in the HYP effectors.

Measuring baseline genetic diversity after 300+ years of lawn - all about to change in the near future!

September 18, 2019

What a fun afternoon sampling soil for nematodes and setting traps for beetles on the back lawn of King's. Super excited to see what we get!

Lab punting day out 2019

August 22, 2019

Super day and super weather!

Parallel neural-network based clustering approach..

August 01, 2019

​parallel computing using neural-networks, and 7 corps..

Augmented reality poster at MPMI!

July 17, 2019

Team effort from the lab testing and planning this - end result really cool!

Clement presents at ISMPMI on the "box codes" of plant-nematode interactions.

July 17, 2019

Super end to a superb session!

New lab photo and celebrations!

July 26, 2019

New lab photo and celebratory lunch for Olaf's defense, the new support for the transformation project, and a proper welcome to Greta and Nemira


June 14, 2019

Fantastic end to a week - Thank you Genewiz for giving us the grand prize of Genewiz week! Main props need to go to "team transformation" - Olaf and Alper for their super work, ideas, and continued enthusiasm to try to crack a tough nut - this will be a tremendous help!

Congrats to the other winners, sounds like some cool projects!

Welcome to Nemira

June 09, 2019

Nemira Zilinskaite joins "team regulation" from the University of Nottingham. She will be working over the summer on an RSB plant-health studentship looking at parasitism regulators of G. rostochiensis.

A welcome to Greta

May 19, 2019

Greta Gallina joins the lab as a summer intern from the University of Florida, USA. She will be working on a BSPP-funded vacation studentship on the "drivers" of plant-nematode parasitism.

Goodbye Ana!

May 16, 2019

First person to leave the new lab! Ana (3rd on the left), joined on an EMBO short term fellowship to work on DNA methylation in nematode induced galls - was a pleasure having you here and look forward to continuing the collaboration. We wish you best of luck with the rest of your PhD.

Worm welcome to Carolina Escobar Lucas for a flying visit

May 13, 2019

Visiting the worm lab during Ana's last week of her EMBO fellowship before returning home. Exciting updates, great chats, and very much looking forward to continuing the collaboration.

Happy birthday!

May 08, 2019

Speaking about work in the worm lab at the celebratory conference for the 100th anniversary of the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology!

New Post Doc position available in the lab

April 02, 2019

Exciting post doc position available in the group on the evolution of a very unusual nematode effector family!


Funded by BBSRC 


Interested in effectors and evolution? feel free to get in touch - Application deadline 30th of April.

Genome annotation Jamboree!

March 11, 2019

This week we visited Oregon State University to take part in the Globodera ellingtonae genome annotation jamboree. One week, and over one thousand manually corrected genes later - we celebrate with a dinner with all participants.

A 'worm' welcome to Ana

February 19, 2019

Ana Claudia Pereira da Silva (second from the front) joins the lab on a short term EMBO fellowship to explore DNA methylation in nematode infected roots.


As a warm worm welcome we visited the King's College chapel roof - taking in some of the best views in Cambridge. Beautiful day for it!

Two more postions open in the Lab!

January 29, 2019

Two more positions open in the lab as part of an ambitious Isaac Newton Trust/Wellcome Trust/University of Cambridge joint research grant to develop CRISPR-mediated proof-of-principle genetic modification of plant-parasitic nematodes.

Were looking for a problem solver with expertise in micro injection - if that sounds like you, please get in touch.

Welcome to Marcelo and Vivian visiting the lab.

January 28, 2019

​Lovely to have Vivian and Marcelo visiting the lab this week. Thanks both for the sedative-imbibed Dundee cake, and the stimulant-packed bean powder to counter.

A Welcome to Clement

January 02, 2019

Dr Clement Pellegrin officially joins the lab as a post doc from the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany. He will be working on the regulation of plant-nematode parasitism.

Worm lab saves the world!

December 18, 2018

From incoming meteor in just 48 minutes!

Christmas Celebrations

December 13, 2018

Secret Santa with the Baulcombe and Henderson Labs.

A welcome to Olaf

November 19, 2018

Olaf Kranse joins the lab as a visiting student from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He will be exploring the possibilities of transformation in plant parasitic nematodes.

Interview with BBSRC "Microscopic manipulators: the worms tricking plants into a free lunch"

October 09, 2018

Interview with BBSRC to coincide with Biology Week celebrations. Tells the story behind the lab and one of the areas we are currently working on.

New PhD position in the lab

September 17, 2018

Open now! A fully funded 4 year BBSRC PhD studentship to start in October 2019 with the title "A synthetic biology approach to develop novel immune responses to plant-parasitic nematodes."

For details of the project see below links - feel free to contact if you would like more information.

The mystery shared transcriptional control of Aphid effectors

September 01, 2018

Latest paper with collaborators and friends from the James Hutton Institute. Work on aphid genomics published in Genome Biology and Evolution. We find evidence for a mechanisms of shared transcriptional control of lots of aphid effectors, although the exact mechanism remains elusive... for now.

Article also highlighted by the journal with an interview of Jorunn Bos and myself.

Original paper click here

Interviews and highlight click here

STATAWAARS paper is here!

July 26, 2018

New nematode effector promoter motif in pine wilt nematodes - STATAWAARS - and I have to say this one is way cooler than the DOG box! Congrats Maggie.

video abstract well worth a look (with sound)

307 group day out - punting

July 12, 2018

Great day out punting and barbecue with the other groups in the 307 lab.

New paper out

April 12, 2018

After nearly half a decade of research its out in PLOSGenetics

Trying to figure out how nematodes evolve new effectors from housekeeping genes with the Urwin Lab Leeds, the Birch Lab Dundee, and the Banfield Lab at John Innes Centre.


Also first three crystal structures of nematode effectors and they're beautiful!

Data available on DRYAD and Structures on PDB

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Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker

BBSRC David Phillips Fellow

Head of Plant-Parasite Interactions Group

Department of Plant Sciences 
University of Cambridge 
Downing Street 
Cambridge CB2 3EA


Links to peer-reviewed articles and pdfs

Awards and Prizes


Programs and scripts download

Download section for scripts and programs

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