Dr Helen Pennington

Postdoctoral Scientist
Sophien Kamoun Group

I am interested in the interactions of pathogens and plants, and particularly in the effectors used by fungi to aid infection. Our group works on filamentous pathogens, including oomycetes and fungi.

My current project at The Sainsbury Laboratory involves the fungal rice pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae, which is the causal agent of rice blast disease. This pathogen can cause up to 100% crop yield losses, and is estimated to cause the loss of enough rice to feed ca. 200-700 million people each year. I will be investigating how this fungal pathogen uses effectors to manipulate its host.


Bialas A, Zess EK, De la Concepcion JC, Franceschetti M, Pennington HG, Yoshida K, Upson JL, Chanclud E, Wu C-H, Langner T, Maqbool A, Varden FA, Derevnina L, Belhaj K, Fujisaki K, Saitoh H, Terauchi R, Banfield MJ, Kamoun S (2017)

Lessons in effector and NLR biology of plant-microbe systems. bioRxiv preprint Aug 2, 2017 doi:

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Franceschetti M, Maqbool A, Jiménez-Dalmaroni MJ, Pennington HG, Kamoun S, Banfield MJ (2017)

Effectors of Filamentous Plant Pathogens: Commonalities amid Diversity. Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev. June 2017 vol. 81 no. 2 e00066-16 doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00066-16

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Derevnina L, Petre B, Kellner R, Dagdas YF, Sarowar MN, Giannakopoulou A, De la Concepcion JC, Chaparro-Garcia A, Pennington HG, van West P, Kamoun S (2016)

Emerging oomycete threats to plants and animals. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2016 Dec 5;371(1709). pii: 20150459. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0459.

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Pennington GH, Gheorghe DM, Damerum A, Pliego C, Spanu PD, Cramer R, Bindschedler LV (2016)

Interactions between the powdery mildew effector BEC1054 and barley proteins identify candidate host targets. Journal of Proteome Research. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00732

Pennington HG, Li L, Spanu PD (2015)

Identification and selection of normalisation controls for quantitative transcript analysis in Blumeria graminis. Molecular Plant Pathology. 1(1),1-9

Pennington HG, Bidartondo MI, Barsoum N (2011)

A Few Exotic Mycorrhizal Fungi Dominate Eucalypts Planted In England. Fungal Ecology. 4(4) 299-302

Pennington SJ, Pennington HG, Nazir M, Davies E (2010)

A retrospective study of the impact of a DSN in primary care. Diabetes and Primary Care 12(1), 28-30.

Job History

2011 – 2016 1+3 BBSRC Doctoral Training (PhD) program in Cell and Molecular Biology Research, Imperial College London

2011 – 2012 Masters of Research in Molecular Plant Biology and Biotechnology, Imperial College London

2008 – 2011 BSc Plant Biology, Imperial College London

2010 – 2010 Research Assistant, Kew Gardens Joddrell Mycology Department

2009 – 2009 Research Assistant, Indonesia, Operation Wallacea Conservation Project