P. E. Urwin


I obtained my first degree in Applied Biology from Coventry Polytechnic. I was a sandwich student at Rothamsted Experimental Station where as part of Prof. Peter Shewry’s group I was introduced to practical molecular biology, working on genes that encode seed storage proteins. I completed a Ph.D. at the University of Durham looking at Cd-regulated gene expression in Datura innoxia, supervised by Prof. Nigel Robinson.

I then moved to the University of Leeds where as a postdoc. in Prof. Howard Atkinson’s group I worked on a project to improve the efficacy of plant proteinase inhibitors with a view to developing GM-crop control of plant parasitic nematodes.

I have remained at Leeds as a member of staff within the Centre for Plant Sciences, where I holds a personal chair in plant nematology. I explore fundamental areas of nematode biology at the molecular level and am committed to strategic biological science aimed at developing crops such as rice, banana and potato that are resistant to nematode pathogens.

Research interests

Plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs) cause >$100 billion annual losses to world agriculture of which cyst and root-knot nematodes contribute over 80%. As a molecular plant nematologist with my core interest is in plant/nematode interactions and the molecular basis of plant nematode parasitism. Much of the group’s work focuses on molecular approaches for understanding and counteracting the plant-nematode interaction, many of which they have pioneered for their field.

The group has developed a number of transgenic defences that can be incorporated into different crops and are effective against a range of nematode species. The work has culminated in successful field trials of transgenic plants with GM nematode resistance in the UK and Africa. Current projects within the group span research from fundamental to strategic, reflected in funding from a range of sources including BBSRC, NERC and industrial funding.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc, Coventry; PhD 1992, Durham.

Student education

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Plant nematology

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Understanding plant-nematode interactions, developing novel anti-nematode defenses

See also:

Academic roles:

  • UG Programme Leader - UG Applied Biology programmes


  • Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee (Programme Manager: Applied Biology)

Research groups and institutes

  • Crop science, genetics and physiology
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Plant-soil environment interaction
  • Plant Science

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1675-plant-nematology">Plant Nematology</a></li>