Professor Xiangming Xu

Director of Research
01732 523753

Former Head of Science at NIAB’s horticultural centre at East Malling in Kent, Xiangming is responsible for developing and delivering the strategy for research activities across the whole of NIAB. This is in addition to his role in co-ordinating research activities at East Malling.

A crop agronomy graduate from YangZhou University in China, Xiangming completed his PhD in plant qualitative genetics and plant breeding at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station in Aberystwyth in 1989. He joined Horticulture Research International (now NIAB) at East Malling in Kent in 1991 as a plant pathologist, becoming Head of Science in 2020, after leading roles in genetics and crop improvement and in pest and pathogen ecology.

Research interests

Xiangming focuses his research on elucidating quantitative epidemiology of important pathogens/diseases on perennial crops, including top/soft fruit and ornamental species with the aim to develop and implementing sustainable and integrated disease management strategies. More recently, Xiangming has been engaged in understanding soil/substrate microbial ecology using next generation sequencing technology, with specific interests in the use of beneficial microbes for improving crop productivity.

Research projects

Innovative practices, tools and products to boost soil fertility and peat substitution in horticultural crops
Duration: 2024-2027
Partners: 17 European partners including NIAB

Developing strategies for sustainable management of apple canker disease (2023-2025, BBSR)
Duration: 2024-2027
Partners: NIAB, Avalon Produce, Worldwide Fruit
Funding: BBSRC

INTERACT: Decoding the rhizobiota interactome for improved crop resilience
Duration: 2020-2025
Partners: NIAB North Carolina State University, Technical University of Denmark, Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen
Funding: Novo Nordisk

EXCALIBUR: Exploiting the multifunctional potential of belowground biodiversity in horticultural farming
Duration: 2019-2024
Partners: NIAB, CREA (Italy), InHort (Poland), CRPV (Italy), National History Museum (UK), Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, AGRONNOVA (Italy), NIOO (Netherlands), University of Copenhagen, Graz University of Technology, Inoculum Plus (France), University of Granada (Spain), INTERMAG (Poland), NSF International (Belgium), KOB (Germany), FOKO (Germany)
Funding: EU H2020

Collaborative training programme for fruit crop research
Duration: 2017-2025
Partners: Berry Gardens Growers Limited, NIAB, Marks and Spencer Plc, AHDB, Mack, The National Association of Cider Makers, Worldwide Fruit Ltd
Funding: BBSRC


> 240 peer-reviewed papers, > 10 book chapters

Selected recent publications

Xiangming Xu, Solomon Agyare, Eithne Browne, Tom Passey (2024). Predicting infection of strawberry fruit by Mucor and Rhizopus spp. under protected conditions. Frontiers in Horticulture, doi: 10.3389/fhort.2024.1373717

Xiangming Xu, Ruth Minja, Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito, Fekadu Dinssa, Greg Deakin, Pamela Nahamya Kabod, Asheri Kalala, Eliciana Kweka, Omary Mbwambo, Deusdedith Mbanzibwa, Hamza Msangi, Mildred Julian Nakanwagi, Tom Passey, Stuart Sentance, Godfrey Sseremba, Eleftheria Stavridou, Gerard J. Bishop (2024). Amplicon sequencing identified a putative pathogen, Macrophomina phaseolina, causing wilt in African eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum) grown in Tanzania and Uganda. Frontiers in Agronomy, doi: 10.3389/fagro.2023.1300324

Xueren Cao, Qiaohui Hana, Ying Xiao, Junjun He, Xiangxian Chuan, Guizi Jiang, Peiqun Lin, Jonathan S. West, Xiangming Xu (2024) Population genetic structure of Erysiphe quercicola, the pathogen of rubber tree powdery mildew in China. Plant Disease, 108, 62-70

Xiangming Xu, Fekadu Fufa Dinssa, Ruth Minja, Violeth Mwaijande, Omary Mbwambo, Zainab Mziray, Eleftheria Stavridou, Gerard J. Bishop (2023). Effects of transplanting and AMF amendment on fruit yield of African eggplants (Solanum aethiopicum and S. anguivi) in Tanzania. Frontiers in Agronomy, doi: 10.3389/fagro.2023.1300553

Matevz Papp-Rupar, Greg Deakin, Leone Olivieri, Louisa Robinson-Boyer and Xiangming Xu (2023). Relative contribution of season, site, rootstock and scion genotype, and susceptibility to European apple canker to the variability in apple endophyte communities. Annals of Applied Biology, doi: 10.1111/aab.12865

Chris Cook, Naresh Magan, Xiangming Xu (2023). Inter-row cropping and rootstock genotype selection as a management strategy for apple replant disease in a UK cider orchard. Phytopathology Research, doi: 10.1186/s42483-023-00184-y

Amanda Karlström, Matevz Papp-Rupar, Tom Passey, Greg Deakin, Xiangming Xu (2023). Quantitative Trait Loci associated with apple endophytes during pathogen infection. Frontiers in Plant Sciences, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2023.1054914

Gurkan Tut, Naresh Magan, Xiangming Xu (2023) Influence of abiotic factors on kinetics of viable populations of biocontrol agents in the phyllosphere of lettuce and strawberry leaves. Plant Pathology, 72, 1069-1080, doi: 10.1111/ppa.13719

Xueren Cao, Yongxiang He, Haiyan Che, Yating Lin, Jonathan S. West, Daquan Luo, Xiangming Xu (2023) Genetic analysis of Colletotrichum siamense populations from different hosts in Hainan, China using microsatellite markers. Plant Disease. 107: 60-66, doi: 10.1094/PDIS-03-22-0576-RE

Cook, Chris; Magan, Naresh; Robinson-Boyer, Louisa; Xu, Xiangming (2023) Effect on microbial communities in apple orchard soil when exposed short-term to climate change abiotic factors and different orchard management practices. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 134, lxad002, doi: 10.1093/jambio/lxad002

Full publication list on Google Scholar, ORCiD and ResearchGate