NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

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CourgettesResearch and Development capabilities

NIAB’s expertise in plant pathology and the characterization of disease resistance has many applications for field vegetable improvement, and activities cover both emerging disease problems on novel vegetable and salad crops as well as improving and evaluating resistance in established crops.


Contact: Bruce Napier

Disease resistance characterization

Evaluation of disease resistance in germplasm, breeding material, and cultivars using controlled inoculation experiments in the field and in the laboratory is a key component of NIAB’s field vegetable programmes. It can include the development of appropriate methodologies and high-throughput phenotypic screens to maximize efficiency.

Research on the development and genetic characterization of disease resistance traits is supported by a wide range of molecular techniques and facilities available at NIAB. Capturing desirable traits such as disease or pest resistance in plant backgrounds that are acceptable to breeders is a major target of NIAB’s overall pre- competitive breeding strategy, and in the area of field vegetables this could deliver many environmental benefits.

Understanding and monitoring pathogen variability is essential for the identification of potentially durable resistance factors, and the principles established for major arable crops are highly relevant to many horticultural crops, for instance current HDC-funded work at NIAB is examining populations of spinach downy mildew in the UK.

VegetablesLaboratory services

Diagnostic services offered through Labtest cover seed health testing of all major and minor species, soil indexing tests to determine risks from various diseases and a plant “clinic” to identify disease and pest problems combined with advice on control and avoidance.

NIAB can also offer a wide range of chemical analyses covering the main nutritional components of vegetables.

All benefit from wide ranging conventional knowledge backed by research and access to modern DNA diagnostic systems.


Field Services

Field services include evaluation of crop protection products and systems. This can be done under a range of naturally occurring pest or disease pressures using NIAB’s network of co-operating growers, or by inoculating plants with diseases and generating epidemics to guarantee specific disease pressures.

"NIAB offer a flexible and cost effective trials and evaluation service producing results that your customers will trust"

  • Experience in establishing a range of variety trials
  • Assessment of varietal performance on your farm
  • Identification of the best varieties for you and your site
  • Measuring quality against your specifications
  • Precision drilling or transplanting of outdoor vegetables
  • Trials under glass, polythene, in containers, tubs and grow bags
  • Evaluation of crop nutrition, composts, green manure and soil conditioners


CarrotsCustomised options

  • Establishment by you on your own holding or by NIAB
  • Establishment by NIAB at one of our many regional locations
  • Recording by you or NIAB
  • Data analysis by specialists
  • Interpretations & Recommendations
  • Conventional and Organic Sites


Crop capability

  • Onions, Leeks and other alliums
  • All brassica species
  • Carrots, Parsnips and other Umbelliferae
  • All salad crops
  • Sweet corn
  • All specialist crops and herbs


Service Support

  • Trials are supported by NIAB’s scientific laboratory and research services
  • Shelf life testing and taste panels
  • Data handling and statistics analysis
  • Access to crop specialists and pathologists
  • Consultancy advice through technical experts, publications, press releases and demonstrations