An evolutionary approach to develop durable disease resistance to bacterial canker of cherry


The resurgence of cherry production in the UK from 400 tonnes in the year 2000 to 3500 tonnes in 2014, achieved through the adoption of high-density plantings, has led to bacterial canker, which is caused by Pseudomonas syringae, becoming the main disease of cherry, for which there is no effective control. Recent work has shown that bacterial canker is not caused by a single bacterial population but by three distinct groups of Pseudomonas, each having independently acquired the ability to cause disease on cherry and each manipulating the host in subtly different ways in order to subvert plant defences and survive in long term associations with the tree. This phenomenon is termed convergent evolution and is an interesting finding, as from it several fundamental scientific questions arise.

Link to BBSRC page

Project code:
TF 227
03 April 2017 - 02 April 2021
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:
Dr Richard Harrison, NIAB EMR

About this project

This project seeks answers to four questions, based upon recent research into this commercially important, yet understudied, pathogen:

  1. what is the basis of niche survival and persistence of P. syringae on cherry?
  2. how is host specificity determined by effector content?
  3. which effectors control known resistance responses in cherry?
  4. what is the genetic architecture of resistance to P. syringae in cherry?