Jacob Webb

Revealing the targets and mode of action of plant fungicides using chemical proteomic tools (i-CASE)

About me

I am a graduate from the University of Birmingham, completing my MSci degree in chemistry there between 2016 and 2020. Although I found my degree fascinating, I wanted to take a step closer to biology and learn about the real-world applications that my chemical lab work might have. Between my first degree and starting my PhD, I decided to take a year out to work at the leading horticultural company ‘Majestic Trees’. This gave me valuable experience in the world of horticulture – an industry I hope to be heavily involved in for the rest of my career. My aspiration has always been to work in plant science. I have had an interest in plants for as long as I can remember and have always cultivated plants at my family house. Looking at plants and their pathogens from a molecular level holds so many possibilities still to be explored and I am ultimately very keen to apply my understanding of chemistry to my knowledge of plants. My PhD will enable me to not only develop my skills as a chemist, but also to gain a deeper understanding of how plants work and how plant pathogens can be controlled to minimise damage in the horticultural and agricultural industries.

My research

My project focusses on a group of pathogens known as oomycetes – in particular, members of the genus Phytophthora. Phytophthora are a group of organisms responsible for some of the most destructive plant diseases known to man, including the Late Potato Blight. The Late Potato Blight caused the devastating Irish Potato famine in the 1800s and still threatens food security to this day. Consequently, application of fungicides is a common control utilised by the agricultural industry to minimise yield losses of potatoes and other closely related agriculturally significant crops. Unfortunately, development of resistance within some Phytophthora strains is causing increasingly reduced effectiveness of some fungicides. By using chemical proteomic methods, the targets and mode of action of some of these fungicides can be elucidated. Ideally, reproducible methodology will be established for use of chemical proteomics on oomycete pathogens. Deciphering the precise modes of action of certain fungicides used to combat Phytophthora species may also allow for the development of more potent fungicides in the future.


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