Mycoviruses as biocontrol agents

Mycoviruses, or fungal viruses, do not kill or cause disease to their host, 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.


  • 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. Collaborators: Professor Bruce Fitt and Dr Yongju Huang, 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

Ioly Kotta-Loizou

Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou

Visiting Lecturer

Ioly is a molecular microbiologist, with more than 35 publications in international scientific journals since 2012.Ioly’s publications have been cited approximately 600 times and she has an h-index of 13.

Ioly is the Chair of the Chrysoviridae Study Group, International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, and an editor for the scientific journals Archives of Virology, Viruses and Frontiers.

Robert Coutts

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 an editor for the scientific journal Archives of Virology.