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

Developing microbial-based strategies to improve rice production in Tanzania
Duration: 2019–2022
Partners: NIAB (lead), Real IPM in Kenya and Tanzania, CropNuts (Kenya);
Funding: Innvoate UK

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

Hort-BlueC: Sustainable up-cycling of agro-, agrofood and fisheries residues in horticulture and agriculture as bioenergy, biochar and chitin-rich products; Duration: 2018-2021; Partners: NIAB, ILVP (Belgium), ECN TNO (Netherlands), University of Lille (France), ADAS (UK), Greenyard (Netherlands), Cato (Netherlands), University of Portsmouth, Proefcentrum Hoogstraten (Belgium); Funding: EU Interreg;

Collaborative training programme for fruit crop research
Duration: 2017-2024
Partners: Berry Gardens Growers Limited, NIAB, Marks and Spencer Plc, AHDB Horticulture, Mack, The National Association of Cider Makers, Worldwide Fruit Ltd
Funding: BBSRC

The role of endophytes in affecting European canker development on apple
Duration: 2017-2021
Partners: NIAB, AHDB Horticulture, Frank P Matthews Ltd., Avalon Produce Ltd., Adrian Scripps Ltd., Wordwide Fruit Ltd., ENZA (New Zealand)

Semi-automatic trapping of fungal spores causing strawberry fruit rot;
Duration: 2017-2020
Partners: NIAB, Mologic Limited, Berry Gardens Growers Limited, Warwickshire College
Funding: Innovate UK

Integrated management of strawberry diseases
Duration: 2015-2020
Partners: NIAB, ADAS, University of Hertfordshire
Funding: AHDB


> 170 peer-reviewed papers, > 10 book chapters

Recent publications

Hu X-P, Cao S-Q, Cornelius A, Xu X-M (2019) Predicting overwintering of wheat stripe rust in central and north-western China. Plant Diseases, 

Deakin G, Fernández Fernández F, Bennett J, Passey T, Harrison N, Tilston EL, Xu X-M (2019) The effect of rotating apple rootstock genotypes on apple replant disease and rhizosphere microbiome. Phytobiome Journal, 

Xu X-M, Ma L, Hu X-P (2019) Overwintering of wheat stripe rust under field conditions in the north-western regions of China. Plant Disease, 103, 638-644 

Deakin G, Tilston EL, Bennett J, Passey T, Harrison N, Fernández-Fernández F, Xu X-M (2018). Spatial structuring of soil microbial communities in commercial apple orchards. Appl. Soil Ecol. 130, 1-12

Emma LT, Deakin G, Bennett J, Passey T, Harrison N, O'Brien F, Fernández-Fernández F, Xu X-M (2018) Candidate causal organisms for apple replant disease in the UK. Phytobiomes Journal, 2, 261-274

Full publication list on Google Scholar, ORCiD and ResearchGate