The Harrison Lab

Research in The Harrison Lab at EMR focuses on understanding the genetic basis of interactions between plants, microbes and pests in order to improve primary food production by reducing losses due to pests and pathogens and improving interactions with beneficial microbes.   There are several ongoing BBSRC and Innovate UK projects which account for the  majority of research in the lab. The research undertaken in these projects aims to improve understanding of how plants defend themselves against pathogen attack and over what timescales these interactions occur and how pathogens evolve virulence and host specificity. There is also ongoing research on the interaction between entomopathogenic fungi and their hosts; in our study system we are looking at the moth Cydia pomonella, commonly known as codling moth (an important pest of apple) and the entomopathogen Metarhizium anisopliae.  The group works both in the laboratory and as bioinformaticians, with a particular interest in the analysis of data from next-generation sequencing projects. The objective of most of our work is to provide scientific knowledge to underpin the horticultural industry through pre-breeding and development of novel pest and pathogen control strategies. 

Collaboration with industry

At EMR there is a strong emphasis on industrial collaborations and in the Harrison Lab we have links with many different sectors of the horticultural industry, from plant breeders to marketing bodies to instrument manufacturers. We receive support from the Innovate UK and the Horticultural Development Company for a number of industry-led projects.  Funding in the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation  Horizon 2020 places Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) at the heart of research and we are keen to engage with SME’s in collaborative research.

We are always keen to talk to industry and engage in collaborative research; please contact Dr Richard Harrison to discuss your ideas.


Harrison Lab Publications

Publications from the group since 2010 Gregory, P.J., Bishop G.J., Fountain, M., Harrison, R.J. and Saville, R.J. (2013). One hundred years of research at East Malling: science into practice for perennial fruit crops. Annals of Appl. Biol. 163. 1-11. Gregory, … Continue Reading


Visiting Students

Each year there are visitors to the lab, via various exchange programmes. This page documents their contribution and current whereabouts, if still in science. 2014  Antonio Garcia- Genotyping and Phenotyping assistance Cesar Marnina Montes-  Genotyping and Phenotyping assistance 2013 Izabela Zabinska … Continue Reading


DNA sequencing facility

EMR operates an Illumina MiSeq system which offers upto 300bp PE reads, yielding a maximum of ~15 GigaBases of data from a single run. This is ideal for fungal DNA sequencing, small plant genomes and transcript discovery. If you are … Continue Reading


FACCE ERA-NET+ New generation sustainable tools to control emerging mite pests under climate change

Genomite Climate change will have serious and profound impacts on pests and diseases of agricultural crops in Europe and it is vital that new tools and management methods are developed to tackle the problems that will increasingly threaten EU food … Continue Reading


Resources for future breeding of apple utilising genome wide selection

Project aim: To identify and plant a replicated set of near elite germplasm for phenotypying as part of work towards genomic selection Project objective(s): To identify a set of germplasm that captures the majority of important phenotypic variation for a … Continue Reading


QTL identification and phenotyping of fruit quality and disease resistance traits in octoploid strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)

PhD project- Laima Antanaviciute The cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) has a complex octoploid genome and it is only recently that sizeable numbers of markers have been developed for breeding purposes, as part of marker-assisted breeding (MAB) programmes. The main … Continue Reading


Understanding host specificity of Pseudomonas syringae on the Prunus species cherry and plum

PhD project- Michelle Hulin Pseudomonas syringae is globally important plant pathogen and model organism in the study of plant and microbe interactions. It has a broad host range, infecting over 180 plant species, which include many high-value crops.  The species … Continue Reading


Exploiting next generation sequencing technologies to understand pathology and resistance to Fusarium

Onion is a major crop across the world and as such is the second most valuable vegetable crop tomato. Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae causes basal rot of onion. In the UK alone postharvest losses due to F. oxysporum f. … Continue Reading


Developing robustness to biotic stress in fruit crops

Strawberries contribute to a nutritious and healthy diet and are an important UK crop. Increasing restrictions in chemical disease controls mean that existing varieties will soon be unsuitable for sustainable production in the soil. Verticillium wilt is one of the … Continue Reading


Pesticide resistance in codling moth

The work in this proposal is designed to screen for insecticide resistance in UK populations of codling moth, and to identify the genomic location of insecticide resistances to several insecticides in the wider European population of codling moth. The identification … Continue Reading


IDRIS – Improving Disease Resistance In Strawberry

The Harrison lab has commenced a 5 year programme aimed at improving the level of  disease resistance to two globally important pathogens, Phytophthora fragariae and Phytophthora cactorum. This project is a collaboration with the Kamoun lab at TSL, Norwich. Funding is provided by the … Continue Reading


Nornex – understanding ash dieback

EMR is part of the multi-partner consortium working to gather information about the invasive ash pathogen Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus and any resistance present in a UK collection of our native ash Fraxinus excelsior. As part of this project EMR is characterising key morphology traits of … Continue Reading