NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

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Cambridge plant scientists put crop diseases on show for National Science Week

01 February 2009

Budding scientists, young and old, are invited to become a pathologist for the day as part of National Science Week – not with humans or animals, but with agricultural crops.

“We want to show the general public that plants get fungal infections and diseases too,” says Dr Kerry Maguire from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).  “Our team of plant pathologists will be demonstrating all kinds of plant diseases focusing on crops that are growing in fields around Cambridge.  Whether fascinated by fungi or disgusted by diseases we hope to attract a new generation of young scientists while providing information in a more complex form for older visitors and those with some grounding in science.”  

The exhibition is at Cambridge University’s Department of Plant Sciences on Saturday 14th March.  The NIAB team will explain how diseases develop, what happens to infected plants and crops and how the spread of infection is controlled or even prevented.  The demonstration includes games and scientific tests, examining infected wheat, barley and oat plants in pots and looking down microscopes at diseased plant material and fungal structures including spores. 

“We will be focusing on diseases such as mildew, yellow rust, brown rust, septoria and fusarium as well as showing some ergot - in sealed bags of course,” explains Kerry.

For further information contact:
Dr Kerry Maguire, NIAB
T: 01223 342213
E: kerry.maguire@niab.com

Lydia Smith, NIAB
T: 01223 342242
E: lydia.smith@niab.com

Issued by:
Ros Lloyd, Front Foot Communications            
T: 01487 831425     
E: ros.lloyd@frontfoot.uk.com