Plant-Parasite Interactions Group
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge
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.
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
Sally from Warwick visited to learn H. schachtii culture - good excuse for lab lunch (giggling squid!).
Plant shopping with the lab - spot the scientists!
We invite applications for a laboratory technician!
First paper using 3d printing - very cool.
New paper from the lab
The H. schachtii genome and transcriptome.
All the data are here:
Behind the paper commentary here:
Fun afternoon of escape rooms and cocktails!
New pre-print from the lab.
New pre-print from the lab on low-cost imaging of nematode infection. First important step down an exciting road.
Welcome Welcome Welcome.
Welcome to Thomas, Sarah Jane, and Mariam!
Thank you for joining our team Andrea - it was a pleasure hosting you!
Congratulations, once again, Olaf!
Congrats to Olaf for winning the 1st place poster prize at the ICN2022!!
Welcome Thomas Baum!
Prof Thomas Baum joins the lab on sabbatical as a BSPP Visiting Professor and Visiting Fellow in Clare Hall.
Virtual nematode infection!
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: https://biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.10.01.462558v1.full…
Huge thanks to the ePlant team.
Literally everyone in the lab has been chipping in on a truly massive project - cannot wait to see how this turns out!
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.
Huge congrats to Olaf for winning the best platform presentation prize at AAB conference for his talk on "the machine"
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!
Very warm welcome to Kerry, Siyuan, Victor, and Anika
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
After visiting the King's chapel roof - here we are having lunch in the Eagle.
Amazing time-lapse of nematode infection
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.
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!
Very pleased to have Beth join us on an an RSB Plant health undergraduate studentship to work with team "regulation"
Lab day out!
Fab lab day out punting from Cam to Granchester and back!
10-week paid 'wet-lab' summer internship available in our group
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"
Some more Current opinions on Plant-nematode interactions!
"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!
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).
Some Current opinions on Plant-nematode interactions
Some Current opinions in Plant Biology on Plant-nematode interactions
Congratulations Victor - awarded an MCSA fellowship to join the lab
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.
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
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?"
A warm welcome to Beatrice who joins the lab as a technician.
SEvdA lab joins Faculty opinions
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.
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.
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.
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..
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker
BBSRC David Phillips Fellow
Head of Plant-Parasite Interactions Group
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Cambridge CB2 3EA
Links to peer-reviewed articles and pdfs
Awards and Prizes
Programs and scripts download
Download section for scripts and programs