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Dr Tom Ashfield

Plant Pathologist

Protecting Crops and the Environment

Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ
+44 (0) 1582 938 177
Associated Websites


Tom's research is focused on using digital imaging to ease high-throughput phenotyping of crop responses to biotic threats. He is interested in understanding the evolution and function of disease resistance genes in plants. The goal of his research is to enable sustainable agriculture through the control of crop diseases, pests, and weeds. Tom's broad skill set encompasses plant pathology, digital phenotyping, molecular biology and bioinformatics. He also has experience of mentoring students and in managing research projects. Following a PhD in molecular plant pathology, his postdoctoral research has included genetically characterising disease resistance in pulse crops, cloning disease resistance genes from soybean, comparative genomics, and attempting to engineer novel disease resistance traits. Tom's latest research activity is focused on establishing a facility as part of the Centre for Applied Crop Science, one of the UK's centres for agricultural innovation. Working with industry partners, the facility will use cutting-edge imaging technology and automated image processing to assess plant responses to pathogens, pests and weeds. The overall goal is to increase the efficiency with which crop responses to biotic threats can be assessed, and so aid rapid deployment of resistant cultivars and effective control agents. Tom welcomes enquires from potential collaborators/industry partners.


  • PhD in Plant Pathology, The Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
  • BS in Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Measures of Esteem

  • 2016 - Reviewer for Plant Physiology
  • 2014 - Invited speaker, Molecular and Cellular Biology of the Soybean, 15th Biennial Conference, University of Minnesota, USA