Sarah Gurr

Senior Research Fellow; Chair in Food Security, Exeter University

From 2020-23, Sarah Gurr’s research interests in crop disease, with particular emphasis on fungal infestations and in their global movement and control, have led to a series of high impact publications and invitations to speak all over the world. Amongst these recent publications are:-

  • Stukenbrock, E and Gurr, SJ (2023) Address the growing urgency of fungal disease in crops. Nature 617 31-34
  • Johns, LE, Bebber, B, Gurr, SJ and Brown, NA (2022) Health threat and cost of Fusarium mycotoxins in European wheat. Nature Food 3 1014–1019
  • Cannon, S, Kay, W, Kilaru, S, Schuster, M, Gurr SJ and Steinberg, G (2022) Multi-site fungicides suppress banana Panama disease, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense Tropical Race 4. PLoS Pathogens journal. ppat.1010860 (SG and GS as CAs)
  • Kilaru, S, Fantozzi, E, Cannon, S, Schuster, M, Chaloner, T, Aragones, CA, Gurr, SJ and Steinberg,G (2022) Zymoseptoria tritici white-collar complex integrates light, temperature and plant cues to initiate dimorphism and pathogenesis.  Nature Communications 13, Article number: 5625
  • Fisher, M et al (2022) Tackling the emerging threat of antifungal resistance to human health. Nature Microbiology Reviews
  • Chaloner, T, Gurr, SJ Bebber, DP (2021) The global burden of plant disease tracks yield under climate change Nature Climate Change
  • Fones, H, Bebber, D, Chaloner, T, Kay, William T, Steinberg, G, Gurr, SJ (2020) Threats to global food security from emerging fungal and oomycete crop pathogens. Nature Food doi: 10.1038/s43016-020-0075.
  • Chaloner, T, Gurr, SJ, Bebber, D (2020) Geometry and evolution of the ecological niche in plant-associated microbes. Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16778-5.
  • Steinberg, G, Schuster, M, Gurr, SJ, Schrader, M, Wood, M, Kilaru, S (2020) A lipophilic cation protects crops against fungal pathogens by multiple modes of action Nature Communications 10.1038/s4146-020-14949-y.
  • Patents –  Antifungal compositions WO2020201698A1 and GB2202216.4

There have been 5 press releases associated with these papers and some of this work featured in articles in The Guardian; The New York Times (Children’s board game “monkey puzzle” Christmas Day 2022); The Toronto Star; The Daily Mail; The Independent; as well as on BBC World News, Live Science News Hour and various other media channels.

Over the past 2 years Sarah has been appointed to The International Advisory Board at SLU University, Uppsala, as Advisor to The Scottish Government on Plant Health (RESAS) and as a member of Plant Heath Scotland (James Hutton Institute). She has also been elected to Board of Trustees of The Rank Foundation, the East Malling Research Trust and The Wolfson Science and Medicine committee.

She holds a Visiting Professorship at Utrecht University, is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Fellow of American Academy of Microbiology, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by SLU Uppsala. Her work with UK and Scottish Government has guided to a policy paper and a Parliamentary Bill (Plant Health and Biosecurity, and Crops and Gene Editing, 2022 and 2023).


Journal articles

Bebber DP, Gurr SJ (In Press). Biotic interactions and climate in species distribution modelling.

Chaloner TM, Gurr SJ, Bebber DP (In Press). Geometry and evolution of the ecological niche in plant-associated microbes.

Gurr SJ, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ (In Press). Identification of plant genes expressed at the feeding site of the potato cyst nematode. Journal Cell Biochemistry, 56, 121-131.

Bebber DP, Field E, Heng G, Mortimer P, Holmes T, Gurr S (In Press). Many unreported crop pests and pathogens are probably already present. Global Change Biology

Chaloner TM, Gurr SJ, Bebber DP (In Press). The global burden of plant disease tracks crop yields under climate change.

Gurr SJ, Field D, Garrity G, Selengut J, Sterk P, Tatusova T, Thomson N, Ashburner M, Boore JL, Cochrane G, et al (In Press). Towards richer descriptions of our collection of genomes and metagenomes. Nature Biotechnology, 16, LBNL-60477.

Steinberg G, Schuster M, Gurr SJ, Schrader TA, Schrader M, Wood M, Early A, Kilaru S (2020). A lipophilic cation protects crops against fungal pathogens by multiple modes of action. Nat Commun, 11(1).

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