Mycoviruses as biocontrol agents

Mycoviruses, or fungal viruses, do not kill their host or cause disease but are known to modulate its gene expression, morphology, growth, sporulation, virulence and interactions with other organisms.

Our aim is to investigate mycoviruses from insect, plant and human pathogenic fungi of environmental, medical or economic significance, and ultimately utilise them as biological control agents against pests and diseases.

To this end, we employ a range of microbiological, molecular, biochemical, imaging and computational approaches.Our recent work has been published in international scientific journals, such as

  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • PLoS Pathogens
  • Frontiers in Microbiology
  • Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • BMC Genomics
  • Journal of Virology and Viruses

These have received considerable attention from press and media, including Times Higher Education.

Projects

  • Using mycoviruses from the insect pathogenic fungi and popular biocontrol agents Beauveria and Lecanicillium to develop next-generation biopesticides. Collaborator: Dr Inmaculada Garrido-Jurado, University of Cordoba
  • Exploring the mycovirus-mediated systemic resistance of oilseed rape plants against the crop pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans, cause of phoma stem canker. Collaborator: Professor Bruce Fitt, University of Hertfordshire
  • Studying a mycovirus from the tree pathogen Dothistroma septosporum, cause of pine needle blight. Collaborator: Dr Katherine Tubby, Forest Research UK
  • Investigating the role of mycoviruses in the interplay between bacteria and the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus, major cause of aspergillosis. Collaborator: Professor David A. Stevens, Stanford University and California Institute of Medical Research

Lab members

Dr Robert H.A Coutts

Research Fellow

Bob is a molecular virologist and plant pathologist, with more than 150 publications in international scientific journals. Bob’s publications have been cited over 5000 times and he has an h-index of 40. Bob is the Chair of the Chrysoviridae Study Group, International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, and an editor for the scientific journal Archives of Virology.

Ioly Kotta Loizou

Visiting Lecturer

Ioly is a molecular microbiologist, with more than 30 publications in international scientific journals since 2012. Ioly’s publications have been cited approximately 500 times and she has an h-index of 13.Ioly is the Deputy Chair of the Chrysoviridae Study Group, International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, and an editor for the scientific journals Archives of Virology and Viruses and Frontiers

Charalampos Filippou

PhD student

Charlie is working on a range of mycoviruses, including polymycoviruses, from the insect pathogenic fungi and popular biocontrol agents Beauveria and Lecanicillium. Charlie focuses on the molecular characterisation of different viruses and the elucidation of their effects on the host fungi. Charlie utilises a range of microbiological, molecular, biochemical, imaging and computational techniques in his studies, including next generation-sequencing.

John Daudu

PhD student

John is working on a chrysovirus from the tree pathogen Dothistroma septosporum, cause of pine needle blight. John focuses of the molecular characterisation of the chrysovirus and the elucidation of its effects on the host fungus. John utilises a range of microbiological, molecular and computational techniques in his studies, including pathogenicity trials in planta.