Wenbo Ma group

Hyphae of a fungal pathogen (labelled with green florescence) in infected leaf tissues.

Wenbo Ma’s group studies the virulence function and evolution of pathogen effectors with the aim to understand mechanisms underlying plant immunity and microbial pathogenesis.

Group leader

Wenbo Ma

Photograph of Wenbo Ma standing in front of some shrubs. Wenbo wears a black jacket with a gold broach.


Professor Wenbo Ma joined our team as a Senior Group Leader in the summer of 2020.

Professor Ma is distinguished for her contributions to our understanding of both plant immunity and microbial pathogenesis and her reputation as a leader in the field of plant-microbe interactions. Professor Ma uses the study of effector proteins– which are delivered by pathogenic microbes into host plant tissue during infection –to understand the mechanisms by which pathogens overwhelm their hosts to cause disease.

Professor Ma works on two major pathogen systems. First of all, she studies Phytophthora, an oomycete pathogen that causes a wide range of diseases, including late blight of potato and sudden oak death. Late blight of potato is a devastating disease globally and remains one of the most serious crop diseases in the UK. Another focus of her research is Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the bacterium responsible for citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, also known as citrus greening. This devastating disease is the major threat of citrus production across the world. Professor Ma is establishing exciting new research programmes in both of these host-pathogen systems at The Sainsbury Laboratory.

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