Plant health and seeds - crop health

Area of Expertise:

AFBI supports research projects on crop health. Current projects include 'New plant defence genes : their identification, characterisation and application' and 'Management of diseases and weeds of cereal crops grown under organic conditions'.

Project: New plant defence genes : their identification, characterisation and application



Homologues of candidate marker genes will be used in related DARD projects concerned with improving disease resistance in crop species.


Journal Articles

Cooper, J. E. (2007). Early interactions between legumes and rhizobia: disclosing complexity in a molecular dialogue. Journal of Applied Microbiology, Not Specified: (In-Press)

Cooper, J. E. (2004). Multiple responses of rhizobia to flavonoids during legume root infection. Advances in Botanical Research, 41:1-62

Crockard, M. , Bjourson, A. J. , Dazzo, F. B. , Cooper, J. E. (2002). A white clover nodulin gene, dd23b, encoding a cysteine cluster protein, is expressed in roots during the very early stages of interaction with Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar trifolii and after treatment with chitolipooligosaccharide Nod factors. Journal of Plant Research, 115(6):439-447

Werner, D. , Barea, J. M. , Brewin, N. J. , Cooper, J. E. , Katinakis, P. , Lindstrom, K. , O'Gara, F. , Spaink, H. P. , Truchet, G. , Mueller, P. (2002). Symbiosis and defence in the interaction of plants with microorganisms. Symbiosis, 32:83-104

Crockard, M. , Bjourson, A. J. , Pulvirenti, M. G. , Cooper, J. E. (2001). Temporal and spatial expression analyses of TrEnod40, TrEnod5 and a novel early nodulin in white clover roots and nodules. Plant Science, 161(6):1161-1170


Cooper, J. E. , Rao, J. R. (Editors) (2006). Molecular Approaches to Soil, Rhizosphere and Plant Microorganism Analysis, C. A. B. International, Cambridge, U. K., 297 pp.

Simek, M. , Cooper, J. E. (Editors) (2006). Biogeochemical Cycles of Elements, 2nd enlarged edition, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, 97 pp.

Cooper, J. E. (2004). Dominant role of flavonoids among signal molecules involved in the formation of legume-rhizobia symbioses. In: Polyphenols Communications 2004, (Eds. Hoikkala, A., Soidinsalo, O., Wahala, K.), Groupe Polyphenols, Helsinki, Finland pp:87-88

Bjourson, A. J. , Streit, W. , Cooper, J. E. (2004). Subtraction hybridization for the production of high specificity DNA probes. In: Molecular Microbial Ecology Manual. 2nd Edition., (Eds. Kowalchuk, G. G., de Bruijn, F. J., Head, I. M., Akkermans, A. D., van Elsas, J. D.), Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany pp:1291-1304

Cooper, J. E. (2004). Symbioses with rhizobia and mycorrhizal fungi: microbe/plant interactions and signal exchange. In: Encyclopedia of Plant and Crop Science, (Eds. Goodman, R. M.), Marcel Dekker Inc, New York, N. Y., U. S. A. pp:1213-1217

Simek, M. , Cooper, J. E. (Editors) (2003). Biogeochemical Cycles of Elements, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, 63 pp.

Steele, H. L. , Werner, D. , Cooper, J. E. (2000). Identification of flavonoids in epidermal exudates of Lotus pedunculatus using multiple coupled analytical techniques. In: Polyphenols Communications 2000, Volume 1, (Eds. Treutter, D., Forkmann, G., Martens, S.), Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany pp:239-240

Knowledge Transfer

Cooper, J. E. (2002). Isolation of unique nucleic acid sequences by subtractive hybridisation - applications information sheet. MicroDiagnostics AG, Fraunhoferstrasse 20, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.

Cooper, J. E. (2001). Report to Coordinator of outcomes of EU FP4 Research Network on Symbiosis and Defence in the Interactions Between Microorganisms and Plants. Main achievements, 1996-2000.


Cooper, J. E. (2003). Royal Society-sponsored research collaboration. Report to Royal Society, London on outcomes of 2 week research collaboration visit to QUB of Professor M Simek, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic.

Cooper, J. E. (2000). New symbiotic genes in white clover and flavonoids in Lotus root and seed exudates. Final report to Coordinator of EUFPIV TMR Research Network - Symbiosis and Defence in the Interactions Between Plants and Microorganisms.


Project: Management of diseases and weeds of cereal crops grown under organic conditions


Project Objectives

Organic farming has undergone a renewed and sustained interest over the past few years in N. Ireland. One of the more pressing needs is for organic cereals for winter feed for animals under organic management. However, to date, minimal research has been undertaken on any aspect of organic production. Two of the main factors limiting the production of organic cereals are disease and competition from weeds. This project would endeavour to produce effective alternative methods of disease and weed control for use under a regime where agrochemical sprays are prohibited.


Journal Articles

Mercer, P. C. (2006). Growing organic cereals in Northern Ireland - disease and weed problems. Aspects of Applied Biology, 79:229-232

Knowledge Transfer

Mercer, P. C. , Morgan, J. I. (2008). Mechanical tining for weed removal in organic cereals. Organic Bulletin (CAFRE) July 2008 issue

Mercer, P. C. (2006). Growing organic cereals in Northern Ireland. Organic Bulletin July 2006 (Cafre)

Reavey, C. J. , McPolin, M. , Mercer, P. C. (2006). The effect of topping frequency on docks in organic grassland. Organic Bulletin January 2006 (Cafre)

Mercer, P. C. , Ruddock, A. , Reavey, C. J. (2005). Effect of cultivar and cultivar mixtures on disease and weed control in spring barley and wheat. Greenmount Organic Unit Farm Walk Booklet

Reavey, C. J. , Lavery, A. , Mercer, P. C. (2005). A comparison of weed numbers in organic barley and oats fields. Organic Bulletin Spring 2005 (Cafre)

Reavey, C. J. , McMaster, B. , Kelly, B. , Mercer, P. C. (2003). Weeds in organic and conventional grassland. Organic Bulletin September 2003 (Cafre)