Robert Heal

PhD Student
Jonathan Jones Group

I am interested in the development of durable disease resistance in major crops through the use of gene cloning, genetic modification and modern breeding techniques.

During my PhD I aim to clone several genes which confer resistance to the potato pathogens PLRV (potato leafroll virus) and Phytophthora infestans in tetraploid potato and its wild diploid relative Solanum americanum. To do this I will be using exome capture and next generation sequencing coupled with different mapping techniques to identify candidate resistance genes.

I also aim to use this knowledge to develop potato varieties with elevated resistance to these pathogens by transfer of major resistance genes through introgression and genetic modification.
+44 (0) 1603 450435


Lin X, Olave-Achury A, Heal R, Witek K, Karki HS, Song T, Wu CH, Adachi H, Kamoun S, Vleeshouwers VGAA, Jones JDG (2021)

Rpi-amr3 confers resistance to multiple Phytophthora species by recognizing a conserved RXLR effector. bioRxiv preprint Jun 10, 2021 doi:

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Witek K, Lin X, Karki HS, Jupe F, Witek AI, Steuernagel B, Stam R, van Oosterhout C, Fairhead S, Heal R, Cocker JM, Bhanvadia S, Barrett W, Wu CH, Adachi H, Song T, Kamoun S, Vleeshouwers VGAA, Tomlinson L, Wulff BBH, Jones JDG (2021)

A complex resistance locus in Solanum americanum recognizes a conserved Phytophthora effector. Nat Plants. 2021 Feb 11. doi: 10.1038/s41477-021-00854-9.

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Little RH, Woodcock SD, Campilongo R, Fung RKY, Heal R, Humphries L, Pacheco-Moreno A, Paulusch S, Stigliano E, Vikeli E, Ward D, Malone JG (2019)

Differential Regulation of Genes for Cyclic-di-GMP Metabolism Orchestrates Adaptive Changes During Rhizosphere Colonization by Pseudomonas fluorescens. Front Microbiol. 2019 May 16;10:1089. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01089.

Job History

2019 – present PhD Student, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK

2018 – 2019 MSc Student – Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement, University of East Anglia, Norwich

2015 – 2018 BSc Student – Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich