News Archive

Post Doctoral position in pathogen-triggered endocytic trafficking


Cambridge and Norwich win major boost for synthetic biology

Plant scientists at Cambridge and Norwich have been awarded £12 million funding for a new UK synthetic biology centre – OpenPlant.


To grow or to defend: how plants decide

Scientists have discovered how plants use steroid hormones to choose growth over defence when their survival depends on it.

The findings published in the open-access scientific journal eLife could be used to engineer crops that combine size with pathogen resistance.


Fraxinus to feature on bbc one

Fraxinus, the Facebook game that helps the fight against ash-dieback, will be featured on the 10th November edition of BBC One's Countryfile.

Full press release here


AAAS and The Sainsbury Laboratory Announce 2013 Fellows

Professors Sophien Kamoun and Jonathan Jones of The Sainsbury Laboratory have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Full press release here


Major Funding for Ash Dieback Fightback

The first DNA sequence data on the ash dieback fungus has been made freely available on crowdsourcing website OpenAshDieBack by scientists receiving major funding for a two-year research project.

Full press release here


Prestigious award for TSL scientist

Professor Jonathan Jones of The Sainsbury Laboratory on the Norwich Research Park in the UK has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 E.C. Stakman Award, for his outstanding achievements in the field of plant pathology.

Full Details Here


Science to help rice growers affected by Japan’s tsunami

Under a year since a huge tsunami inundated paddy fields in Japan with salty sludge, scientists are near to developing locally-adapted, salt-tolerant rice.

Full Details Here



TSL scientists are enlisting a wild grass collected from coastal plains in Israel to protect wheat harvests from stem rust, a disease that is already devastating crops from Uganda to Iran.

Full Details Here


Plant immunity discovery boosts chances of disease-resistant crops

Professor Jonathan Jones of the Sainsbury Laboratory is part of a research group, the European Union Effectoromics Consortium, which has contributed to research uncovering new aspects of the plant immune system.

Full Press Release Here


“Whodunnit” of Irish potato famine solved

An international team of scientists reveals that a unique strain of potato blight they call HERB-1 triggered the Irish potato famine of the mid-nineteenth century.

Full Press Release Here



Scientists from The Sainsbury Laboratory conducting a research trial of blight-resistant GM potatoes invited anti-GM campaigners planning a “photo shoot” in Norwich to take part in a debate. The invitation has been declined and instead campaigners plan to “deliver” some potatoes to the John Innes Centre, beside the TSL site, and to hold a “rally”.

Full Press Release Here

Awards for TSL PhD students

Two TSL PhD students have recently been awarded John Innes Foundation prizes for their outstanding work. Liliana Cano received the Excellence in Science Communication Award and Ben Schwessinger received the Excellence in Scientific Research Award. Well deserved congratulations to both!

Click here to read more  

Evolution of pathogen genomes - latest TSL & JIC publications in Science

Norwich scientists are on the trail of some of the most economically damaging organisms that infect crops worldwide. Their latest targets are the parasitic water fungus that causes powdery mildew and the water molds that cause late blight in potatoes and tomatoes and downy mildew in cruciferous vegetables and other crops.

Press release available here


Sainsbury Laboratory Research scoops international award

Professor Sophien Kamoun of The Sainsbury Laboratory has been jointly awarded a prestigious Daiwa Adrian Prize by The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation for his work on the interactions between plants and disease-causing pathogens.

Press release available here


Crop science projects drive benefits for farming, food security and UK economy

Researchers funded by the BBSRC Crop Science Initiative have made a discovery that could instigate a paradigm shift in breeding resistance to late blight. This approach will be taken forward in a new project involving The Sainsbury Laboratory to identify resistance in potato plants that could then be used for breeding new resistant varieties.

Click here for more


JIC/TSL Undergraduate Summer Research Training Programme (4th July – 27 August 2011)

Applications for the 2011 programme are now being taken. Further details and information on the application process can be found here

See here for a BBSRC report on the 2010 programme.

Conquering Conker Canker

Scientists from TSL, Forest Research and the University of Reading have decoded the genome of bacterium that is threatening the UK’s historic landscape.

Press release available here

Link to paper here


New defences deployed against plant diseases

An international team led by scientists at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich have transferred broad spectrum resistance against some important plant diseases across different plant families.  This breakthrough provides a new way to produce crops with sustainable resistance to economically important diseases.

Press release available here


TSL applies for consent to conduct field trial with late blight resistant potatoes.

Read newspaper advert here

Q&A about the trial here

BBC News Report


TSL scientists helped crack the code that bacteria use to manipulate agricultural crops

Sebastian Schornack, currently working with Sophien Kamoun at TSL, co-disovered the code which explains how bacterial effectors bind to specific host plant DNA sequences, manipulating host gene expression and leading to disease. This work is now published in Science.

Press release available here

Read the article at Science Express Here


Royal Society global food security report published

The Sainsbury Laboratory welcomes a Royal Society report calling for an investment of £2 billion into a research programme on global food security. The report published today (21 October 2009) says that the UK should lead international research efforts if we are to achieve the massive increase in food crop production that will be required by 2050 to meet global food demands without damaging the environment.

Read the full report at the Royal Society website


Late blight pathogen sequenced

Researchers from the Sainsbury Laboratory are major contributors to a large international research team which has decoded the genome of Phytophthora infestans, the notorious organism that triggered the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century and also threatens this year’s potato and tomato crops.

Press release

Nature Article


Dr Silke Robatzek to join TSL

The Sainsbury Laboratory is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Silke Robatzek as a new Group Leader from 1st September 2009

Read press release here

Sophien Kamoun – IS-MPMI president elect!

We are very pleased to announce that Prof. Sophien Kamoun has accepted the role of IS-MPMI President-Elect for the period 2009-2011 and President of the IS-MPMI for the term 2011-2013. Congratulations Sophien!

Visit the IS-MPMI here

Press release

TSL+ research programme and collaboration with The Two Blades Foundation officially announced at the International Congress of the International Society for Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions in Quebec City.

Read full press release here


Professor Chris Lamb CBE FRS, 1950-2009

The Sainsbury Laboratory senior management and staff are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Professor Chris Lamb, director of the John Innes Centre. Head of Laboratory Sophien Kamoun said "Chris was a key member of the TSL council and a driving force in the Norwich research community with his vision and commitment to scientific excellence. We enjoyed the close collaboration we've had with Chris and the JIC and we will sorely miss him". TSL council members and Gatsby Trustees are deeply saddened and offer their condolences to the family and JIC staff.

Sir David Charles Baulcombe

Prof. David Baulcombe has been awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Sir David Charles Baulcombe was a project leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory from 1988 until 2007 when he took up the position of Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge. We offer our sincere congratulations to David.

Science Special Issue on Plant-Microbe interactions

Contributions from Sainsbury Laboratory and John Innes Centre scientists feature strongly among those who have contributed to a Science Special Issueon plant-microbe interactions.

Click here to read article


TSL alumnus featured in Science Careers article

Science Careers features an article on TSL alumnus Dr Olivier Voinnet who earned his PhD working in the Baulcombe lab on gene silencing mechanisms.

Click here to read article


Recent publications from the Rathjen group

Two early career researchers from the Sainsbury laboratory have recently published work which increases our understanding of the battle fought between plants and their potential pathogens at the molecular level.

Read update here


TSL science featured in Science Museum exhibition

Work from Jonathan Jones’ group on developing potato plants resistant to the devastating late blight disease is amongst research from both TSL and JIC featured in a current exhibition debating genetic modification at the Science Museum in London.Vist the mini-website here

'Report confirms The Sainsbury Laboratory's position as a world leader in plant science'

Download the report...


JIC and TSL top in plant and animal science

The John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory have topped a survey ranking the most influential papers of the last ten years in plant and animal sciences. A total of 88,700 institutions were surveyed worldwide. JIC and TSL on the Norwich Research Park were ranked significantly higher than any other organization.

Press release available here



A field trial of GM potatoes has been planted to test whether genes from wild relatives can successfully protect commercial potato varieties from late blight – the disease that caused the Irish potato famine – without the need to spray fungicides.

Press release available here


Ancient class of translocated oomycete effectors targets the host nucleus

Latest publication from the Kamoun lab in PNAS. Click here for abstract.


High throughput confocal imaging of live plant leaves


The latest publication from the Robatzek Lab reports the development of a method for high throughput confocal imaging of intact plant leaves. The method allows changes in membrane trafficking upon attack by pathogens to be monitored and quantified.

Click here for abstract