Research in The Harrison Lab at EMR focuses on genetically complex crops such as strawberry, apple and broadleaf tree species and is directed towards understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling resistance to a range of plant pathogens. The group also seeks to understand the evolutionary process that occur between pathogens and plants, specifically the evolution of host resistance and pathogen virulence and in the case of strawberry, the role that polyploidy plays in these interactions. Many of the current research projects that I lead have a translational component that aims to utilise information about the pathogen’s effector gene complement to enable plant breeders to select and pyramid resistance. In order to carry out translational genomics work in non-model crops, part of the group develop tools for the analysis of complex, highly heterozygous genomes.
Satellite research projects focus on interactions between beneficial fungi and plant hosts, fungal pathogen interactions in insects (and mechanisms of host resistance) and the use of fungi related to plant pathogens in biotechnology. All research sits within the broad area of improving food security and plant health. I have extensive skills in molecular biology and bioinformatics and my research group comprises of both laboratory based and computational biologists.
The group also provides a bridge between research and commercial exploitation of scientific knowledge, by assisting plant breeders in the development of molecular markers for use in breeding programmes. These include markers for fruit quality, flowering time and ongoing work in nutrient use efficiency markers.
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 AHDB Horticulture 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.