Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Professor of Plant Sciences



+44 (0)20 7594 6437c.turnbull Website




449Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Research Overview

We work on genes and signals in plant defence and development, that allow plants to function in an integrated manner. Functional genomics enables us to address these questions directly. In particular, we can exploit proteomics and transcriptomics in combination with the widespread availability of mutants and transgenics. For plant defence against aphids, we are particularly interested in genomics and species-wide diversity of both pest virulence and host resistance (Kanvil et al. 2014a), in genetics of aphid virulence (Kanvil et al. 2014b) and in phloem defences against aphids (Kanvil et al. 2017). We have also invested time in developing tools for studying systemic signalling, especially micro-grafting and sap sampling in Arabidopsis. We have published on both phloem (Corbesier et al. 2007; Truman et al. 2007; Zhang et al. 2010; Lopez-Cobollo et al. 2016) and xylem (Foo et al. 2007) systems. 

See further details at research page


Functions of a novel chitinase-like effector family unique to aphids (BBSRC 2023-2026)

Can plant-fungal symbioses underpin plant diversity? (NERC 2022-25; Vincent Savolainen [PI], Martin Bidartondo)

The molecular and genetic basis of aphid virulence (BBSRC 2016-2019; with Jorunn Bos, Dundee University)

Controlling dormancy and sprouting in potato and onion (BBSRC Horticulture and Potato Initiative 2013-2017; with James Hutton Institute, Cranfield University and Greenwich University)

The molecular and genetic basis of aphid virulence (BBSRC 2016-2019; with Dundee University)

Disentangling the mechanisms of ecological speciation in sympatric palm species (NERC 2015-2018; led by Vincent Savolainen)

Interested in Postdoctoral Fellowships?

Imperial College runs an annual Imperial College Research Fellowships scheme (Imperial College Research Fellowships). If you are eligible and have an exceptional profile, please get in touch at We can also assist in preparing applications for independent fellowship schemes run by Royal Society, BBSRC and many other organisations.

Interested in PhD projects?

NEW OPEN CALL FOR APPLICANTS: Department of Life Sciences PhD studentships. If you have an exceptional profile and are interested in projects within our research areas on plant defence, please get in touch as soon as possible at Closing date: 12th January 2024.

The lab's main focus is plant-aphid interactions: inheritance and characterisation of effectors and resistance genes, mechanisms of immune activation and immune suppression, and climate change impacts on plant immunity.

Pea aphid on Medicago

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Antoniadi I, Novák O, Gelová Z, et al., 2020, Cell-surface receptors enable perception of extracellular cytokinins, Nature Communications, Vol:11, ISSN:2041-1723, Pages:1-10

Kanvil S, Pham J, Lopez-Cobollo R, et al., 2017, Cucurbit extrafascicular phloem has strong negative impacts on aphids and is not a preferred feeding site., Plant Cell and Environment, Vol:40, ISSN:0140-7791, Pages:2780-2789

Lopez-Cobollo RM, Filippis I, Bennett MH, et al., 2016, Comparative proteomics of cucurbit phloem indicates both unique and shared sets of proteins, The Plant Journal, Vol:88, ISSN:1365-313X, Pages:633-647

Antoniadi I, Plackova L, Simonovik B, et al., 2015, Cell-Type-Specific Cytokinin Distribution within the Arabidopsis Primary Root Apex, Plant Cell, Vol:27, ISSN:1040-4651, Pages:1955-1967

Kanvil S, Collins CM, Powell G, et al., 2015, Cryptic Virulence and Avirulence Alleles Revealed by Controlled Sexual Recombination in Pea Aphids, Genetics, Vol:199, ISSN:0016-6731, Pages:581-593

Kanvil S, Powell G, Turnbull C, 2014, Pea aphid biotype performance on diverse Medicago host genotypes indicates highly specific virulence and resistance functions, Bulletin of Entomological Research, Vol:104, ISSN:1475-2670, Pages:689-701

Young NF, Ferguson BJ, Antoniadi I, et al., 2014, Conditional Auxin Response and Differential Cytokinin Profiles in Shoot Branching Mutants., Plant Physiology, Vol:165, ISSN:0032-0889, Pages:1723-1736

Turnbull CGN, Lopez-Cobollo RM, 2013, Heavy traffic in the fast lane: long-distance signalling by macromolecules, New Phytologist, Vol:198, ISSN:0028-646X, Pages:33-51

Turnbull C, 2011, Long-distance regulation of flowering time, Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol:62, ISSN:0022-0957, Pages:4399-4413

Zhang B, Tolstikov V, Turnbull C, et al., 2010, Divergent metabolome and proteome suggest functional independence of dual phloem transport systems in cucurbits, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:107, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:13532-13537

Corbesier L, Vincent C, Jang S, et al., 2007, FT protein movement contributes to long-distance signaling in floral induction of <i>Arabidopsis</i>, Science, Vol:316, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1030-1033

Foo E, Morris SE, Parmenter K, et al., 2007, Feedback regulation of xylem cytokinin content is conserved in pea and arabidopsis, Plant Physiology, Vol:143, ISSN:0032-0889, Pages:1418-1428

Truman W, Bennettt MH, Kubigsteltig I, et al., 2007, <i>Arabidopsis</i> systemic immunity uses conserved defense signaling pathways and is mediated by jasmonates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:104, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:1075-1080

An HL, Roussot C, Suárez-López P, et al., 2004, CONSTANS acts in the phloem to regulate a systemic signal that induces photoperiodic flowering of <i>Arabidopsis</i>, Development, Vol:131, ISSN:0950-1991, Pages:3615-3626

Turnbull CGN, Booker JP, Leyser HMO, 2002, Micrografting techniques for testing long-distance signalling in <i>Arabidopsis</i>, Plant Journal, Vol:32, ISSN:0960-7412, Pages:255-262

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