Prof Peter Urwin

BSc, Coventry; PhD 1992, Durham.
Professor of Plant Nematology
School of Biology

Contact: Manton 9.10, +44(0) 113 34 32909 office/33035 lab, email address for  

You can read more about Prof Urwin's interests here:

Research Interests

Devloping and deploying defenses against plant parasitic nematodes

Transgenic Potato Field TrialCysts on RootsMeloidogyne Section

Plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs) cause >$100 billion annual losses to world agriculture of which cyst and root-knot nematodes contribute over 80%. In the lab we are developing biofumigation to replace withdrawn nematicides and utilising well established anti-feedant technology as well as newly developed behavioural repellents and RNAi to provide plant based resistance to nematodes in several crops. We are also undertaking fundamental research using the model species C. elegans and utilising the data being generated by the sequencing of Globodera pallida to identify novel strategies and targets for engineering nematode resistance.


Current Projects

  • Establishing biofumigation as a sustainable pesticide replacement for control of soil-borne pests and pathogens in potato and horticultural crops.  
  • Effects of environmental change: increased nematode pest status on UK crops.  
  • Biotic constraints to crop production: biochemical and molecular basis of plant interactions with pests, parasites and symbionts.  
  • Development of nematode resistant cotton by genetic engineering.  
  • Characterisation of cue-dependent behaviour in plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs); the neurobiology of host plant invasion.  
  • Development of nematode resistant cooking banana by genetic engineering for sub-Saharan Africa.



Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Plant nematology

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Understanding plant-nematode interactions, developing novel anti-nematode defenses

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY2225 - Sustainable Food Production
BLGY3205 - Applied Plant Science

Modules taught

BIOL5294M - MSc Bioscience Research Project Proposal
BIOL5372M - Advanced Biomolecular Technologies
BIOL5392M - Bioscience MSc Research Project
BLGY1211 - Applied Biology and Agriculture
BLGY1236 - Practical Applied Biology
BLGY1303 - Tutorials for Biology and Genetics
BLGY2100 - Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists
BLGY2225 - Sustainable Food Production
BLGY2253 - Animals as Pests
BLGY3205 - Applied Plant Science
BLGY3345 - Biology Integrated Research Projects

Academic roles

UG Programme Leader - UG Applied Biology programmes


Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee (Programme Manager: Applied Biology)

Centre membership: The Centre for Plant Sciences

Mrs Jennie Hibbard  (Research Technician)

Dr Laura Jones  (Research Fellow)

Dr Catherine Lilley  (Senior Research Fellow)

Mrs Fiona Moulton  (Research Technician / PGS Faciilty Manager)


Christopher Bell (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
John Lennon (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Duqing Wu (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Ashleigh Elliott (Co-supervisor) 33% FTE

Jones LM, Eves-van den Akker S, van-Oosten Hawle P, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Duplication of hsp-110 is implicated in differential success of Globodera species under climate change. Molecular biology and evolution, 2018
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Doheny-Adams T, Lilley CJ, Barker A, Ellis S, Wade R, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE, Redeker K, Hartley SE Constant Isothiocyanate-Release Potentials across Biofumigant Seeding Rates. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 66 5108-5116, 2018
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Bell CA, Atkinson HJ, Andrade AC, Nguyen HX, Swibawa IG, Lilley CJ, McCarthy J, Urwin PE A High-Throughput Molecular Pipeline Reveals the Diversity in Prevalence and Abundance of Pratylenchus and Meloidogyne Species in Coffee Plantations. Phytopathology 108 641-650, 2018
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Lilley CJ, Maqbool A, Wu D, Yusup HB, Jones LM, Birch PRJ, Banfield MJ, Urwin PE, Eves-van den Akker S Effector gene birth in plant parasitic nematodes: Neofunctionalization of a housekeeping glutathione synthetase gene PLoS Genetics 14, 2018
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Roderick H, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ Rational design of biosafe crop resistance to a range of nematodes using RNA interference Plant Biotechnology Journal 16 520-529, 2018
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Smus JP, Ludlow E, Dallière N, Luedtke S, Monfort T, Lilley C, Urwin P, Walker RJ, O'Connor V, Holden-Dye L, Mahajan S Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) spectroscopy in Caenorhabditis elegans and Globodera pallida: evidence for an ivermectin-activated decrease in lipid stores Pest Management Science 73 2550-2558, 2017
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Hoysted GA, Lilley CJ, Field KJ, Dickinson M, Hartley SE, Urwin PE A plant-feeding nematode indirectly increases the fitness of an aphid Frontiers in Plant Science 8, 2017
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Jones LM, Koehler AK, Trnka M, Balek J, Challinor AJ, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Climate change is predicted to alter the current pest status of Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis in the United Kingdom Global Change Biology 23 4497-4507, 2017
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Kearn J, Lilley C, Urwin P, O'Connor V, Holden-Dye L Progressive metabolic impairment underlies the novel nematicidal action of fluensulfone on the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology 142 83-90, 2017
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Zhang L, Lilley CJ, Imren M, Paul Knox J, Urwin PE The complex cell wall composition of syncytia induced by plant parasitic cyst nematodes reflects both function and host plant Frontiers in Plant Science 8, 2017
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Eves-Van Den Akker S, Lilley CJ, Yusup HB, Jones JT, Urwin PE Functional C-TERMINALLY ENCODED PEPTIDE (CEP) plant hormone domains evolved de novo in the plant parasite Rotylenchulus reniformis Molecular plant pathology 17 1265-1275, 2016
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Papolu PK, Dutta TK, Tyagi N, Urwin PE, Lilley CJ, Rao U Expression of a Cystatin Transgene in Eggplant Provides Resistance to Root-knot Nematode, Meloidogyne incognita Frontiers in Plant Science 7, 2016
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Eves-van den Akker S, Laetsch DR, Thorpe P, Lilley CJ, Danchin EGJ, Da Rocha M, Rancurel C, Holroyd NE, Cotton JA, Szitenberg A, Grenier E, Montarry J, Mimee B, Duceppe MO, Boyes I, Marvin JMC, Jones LM, Yusup HB, Lafond-Lapalme J, Esquibet M, Sabeh M, Rott M, Overmars H, Finkers-Tomczak A, Smant G, Koutsovoulos G, Blok V, Mantelin S, Cock PJA, Phillips W, Henrissat B, Urwin PE, Blaxter M, Jones JT The genome of the yellow potato cyst nematode, Globodera rostochiensis, reveals insights into the basis of parasitism and virulence Genome Biology 17, 2016
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Kenta T, Edwards JEM, Butlin RK, Burke T, Quick WP, Urwin P, Davey MP Tissue culture as a source of replicates in nonmodel plants: Variation in cold response in Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. petraea G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 6 3817-3823, 2016
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Holden-Dye L, Kearn J, Crisford A, Ludlow E, Urwin PE, Lilley CJ, O'Connor V THE NEMATICIDAL MODE OF ACTION OF FLUENSULFONE., 2015

Jones LM, Flemming AJ, Urwin PE NHR-176 regulates cyp-35d1 to control hydroxylation-dependent metabolism of thiabendazole in caenorhabditis elegans Biochemical Journal 466 37-44, 2015
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Tripathi L, Babirye A, Roderick H, Tripathi JN, Changa C, Urwin PE, Tushemereirwe WK, Coyne D, Atkinson HJ Field resistance of transgenic plantain to nematodes has potential for future African food security. Sci Rep 5 8127-, 2015
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Atkinson NJ, Jain R, Urwin PE The response of plants to simultaneous biotic and abiotic stress In Combined Stresses in Plants: Physiological, Molecular, and Biochemical Aspects, 2015
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Eves-Van Den Akker S, Lilley CJ, Reid A, Pickup J, Anderson E, Cock PJA, Blaxter M, Urwin PE, Jones JT, Blok VC A metagenetic approach to determine the diversity and distribution of cyst nematodes at the level of the country, the field and the individual Molecular Ecology 24 5842-5851, 2015
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Lilley CJ, Jain R, Urwin PE Reduction of phytate by down-regulation of Arabidopsis thaliana MIPS and IPK1 genes alters susceptibility to beet cyst nematodes Nematology 17 401-407, 2015
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Eves-van den Akker S, Lilley CJ, Jones JT, Urwin PE Plant-parasitic nematode feeding tubes and plugs: new perspectives on function NEMATOLOGY 17 1-9, 2015

Eves-van den Akker S, Lilley CJ, Jones JT, Urwin PE Identification and characterisation of a hyper-variable apoplastic effector gene family of the potato cyst nematodes. PLoS Pathog 10 e1004391-, 2014
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Eves-van den Akker S, Lilley CJ, Danchin EGJ, Rancurel C, Cock PJA, Urwin PE, Jones JT The transcriptome of Nacobbus aberrans reveals insights into the evolution of sedentary endoparasitism in plant-parasitic nematodes. Genome Biol Evol 6 2181-2194, 2014
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Cotton JA, Lilley CJ, Jones LM, Kikuchi T, Reid AJ, Thorpe P, Tsai IJ, Beasley H, Blok V, Cock PJA, Eves-van den Akker S, Holroyd N, Hunt M, Mantelin S, Naghra H, Pain A, Palomares-Rius JE, Zarowiecki M, Berriman M, Jones JT, Urwin PE The genome and life-stage specific transcriptomes of Globodera pallida elucidate key aspects of plant parasitism by a cyst nematode. Genome Biol 15 R43-, 2014
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Eves-van den Akker S, Lilley CJ, Ault JR, Ashcroft AE, Jones JT, Urwin PE The feeding tube of cyst nematodes: characterisation of protein exclusion. PLoS One 9 e87289-, 2014
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Thorpe P, Mantelin S, Cock PJA, Blok VC, Coke MC, Eves-van den Akker S, Guzeeva E, Lilley CJ, Smant G, Reid AJ, Wright KM, Urwin PE, Jones JT Genomic characterisation of the effector complement of the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida BMC Genomics 15, 2014
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Atkinson NJ, Lilley CJ, Urwin PE Identification of Genes Involved in the Response of Arabidopsis to Simultaneous Biotic and Abiotic Stresses PLANT PHYSIOLOGY 162 2028-2041, 2013

Jones LM, Rayson SJ, Flemming AJ, Urwin PE Adaptive and specialised transcriptional responses to xenobiotic stress in Caenorhabditis elegans are regulated by nuclear hormone receptors. PLoS One 8 e69956-, 2013
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Davies LJ, Urwin PE The cell walls of syncytia formed by Heterodera schachtii in Arabidopsis thaliana are abundant in methyl-esterified pectin. Plant Signal Behav 7 1404-1406, 2012
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Roderick H, Tripathi L, Babirye A, Wang D, Tripathi J, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ Generation of transgenic plantain (Musa spp.) with resistance to plant pathogenic nematodes. Mol Plant Pathol 13 842-851, 2012
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Davies LJ, Lilley CJ, Paul Knox J, Urwin PE Syncytia formed by adult female Heterodera schachtii in Arabidopsis thaliana roots have a distinct cell wall molecular architecture New Phytologist 196 238-246, 2012
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Atkinson NJ, Urwin PE The interaction of plant biotic and abiotic stresses: from genes to the field. J Exp Bot 63 3523-3543, 2012
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Lilley CJ, Davies LJ, Urwin PE RNA interference in plant parasitic nematodes: a summary of the current status. Parasitology 139 630-640, 2012
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Atkinson HJ, Lilley CJ, Urwin PE Strategies for transgenic nematode control in developed and developing world crops. Curr Opin Biotechnol 23 251-256, 2012
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Green J, Wang D, Lilley CJ, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ Transgenic potatoes for potato cyst nematode control can replace pesticide use without impact on soil quality. PLoS One 7 e30973-, 2012
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Atkinson NJ, Dew TP, Orfila C, Urwin PE Influence of combined biotic and abiotic stress on nutritional quality parameters in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). J Agric Food Chem 59 9673-9682, 2011
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Lord JS, Lazzeri L, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Biofumigation for Control of Pale Potato Cyst Nematodes: Activity of Brassica Leaf Extracts and Green Manures on Globodera pallida in Vitro and in Soil J AGR FOOD CHEM 59 7882-7890, 2011

Wang D, Jones LM, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ A Synthetic Peptide Shows Retro- and Anterograde Neuronal Transport before Disrupting the Chemosensation of Plant-Pathogenic Nematodes PLOS ONE 6, 2011

Lilley CJ, Wang D, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Effective delivery of a nematode-repellent peptide using a root-cap-specific promoter PLANT BIOTECHNOL J 9 151-161, 2011

Jones LM, De Giorgi C, Urwin PE C. elegans as a Resource for Studies on Plant Parasitic Nematodes GENOMICS AND MOLECULAR GENETICS OF PLANT-NEMATODE INTERACTIONS 175-220, 2011

Atkinson NJ, Orfila C, Urwin PE Investigating the response of Arabidopsis thaliana and Solanum lycopersicum to multiple simultaneous stresses PROCEEDINGS OF THE NUTRITION SOCIETY 69 E327-E327, 2010

Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE, Hussey RS Plant biotechnology and control, 2009

Costa JC, Lilley CJ, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Functional characterisation of a cyst nematode acetylcholinesterase gene using Caenorhabditis elegans as a heterologous system INT J PARASITOL 39 849-858, 2009

Siddique S, Endres S, Atkins JM, Szakasits D, Wieczorek K, Hofmann J, Blaukopf C, Urwin PE, Tenhaken R, Grundler FMW, Kreil DP, Bohlmann H Myo-inositol oxygenase genes are involved in the development of syncytia induced by Heterodera schachtii in Arabidopsis roots NEW PHYTOL 184 457-472, 2009

Bakhetia M, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ Characterisation by RNAi of pioneer genes expressed in the dorsal pharyngeal gland cell of Heterodera glycines and the effects of combinatorial RNAi INT J PARASITOL 38 1589-1597, 2008

Fuller VL, Lilley CJ, Urwin PE Nematode resistance NEW PHYTOL 180 27-44, 2008

Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Europe needs to protect its transgenic crop research NATURE 453 979-979, 2008

Lilley CJ, Bakhetia M, Charlton WL, Urwin PE Recent progress in the development of RNA interference for plant parasitic nematodes MOL PLANT PATHOL 8 701-711, 2007

Fuller VL, Lilley CJ, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Differential gene expression in Arabidopsis following infection by plant-parasitic nematodes Meloidogyne incognita and Heterodera schachtii MOL PLANT PATHOL 8 595-609, 2007

Urwin PE Optimizing biotech crops for nematode resistance. PHYTOPATHOLOGY 97 S144-S144, 2007

Bakhetia M, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ qPCR analysis and RNAi define pharyngeal gland cell-expressed genes of Heterodera glycines required for initial interactions with the host MOL PLANT MICROBE IN 20 306-312, 2007

Shingles J, Lilley CJ, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Meloidogyne incognita: Molecular and biochemical characterisation of a cathepsin L cysteine proteinase and the effect on parasitism following RNAi EXP PARASITOL 115 114-120, 2007

Costa JC, Lilley CJ, Urwin PE Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for plant-parasitic nematodes NEMATOLOGY 9 3-16, 2007

Lilley CJ, Goodchild SA, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Cloning and characterisation of a Heterodera glycines aminopeptidase cDNA INT J PARASITOL 35 1577-1585, 2005

Lilley CJ, Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE Molecular aspects of cyst nematodes MOL PLANT PATHOL 6 577-588, 2005

Liu B, Hibbard JK, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ The production of synthetic chemodisruptive peptides in planta disrupts the establishment of cyst nematodes PLANT BIOTECHNOL J 3 487-496, 2005

Bakhetia M, Charlton WL, Urwin PE, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ RNA interference and plant parasitic nematodes TRENDS PLANT SCI 10 362-367, 2005

Lilley CJ, Urwin PE, Johnston KA, Atkinson HJ Preferential expression of a plant cystatin at nematode feeding sites confers resistance to Meloidogyne incognita and Globodera pallida PLANT BIOTECHNOL J 2 3-12, 2004

Urwin PE, Green J, Atkinson HJ Expression of a plant cystatin confers partial resistance to Globodera, full resistance is achieved by pyramiding a cystatin with natural resistance MOL BREEDING 12 263-269, 2003

Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE, McPherson MJ Engineering plants for nematode resistance. Annu Rev Phytopathol 41 615-639, 2003
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Urwin PE, Lilley CJ, Atkinson HJ Ingestion of double-stranded RNA by preparasitic juvenile cyst nematodes leads to RNA interference. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 15 747-752, 2002
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Urwin PE, Zubko EI, Atkinson HJ The biotechnological application and limitation of IRES to deliver multiple defence genes to plant pathogens Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology 61 103-108, 2002
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Urwin PE, Troth KM, Zubko EI, Atkinson HJ Effective transgenic resistance to Globodera pallida in potato field trials MOL BREEDING 8 95-101, 2001

Urwin PE, Yi L, Martin H, Atkinson HJ, Gilmartin PM Functional characterization of the EMCV IRES in plants The Plant Journal 24 583-589, 2000
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Urwin PE, Levesley A, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ Transgenic resistance to the nematode Rotylenchulus reniformis conferred by A. thaliana plants expressing proteinase inhibitors Molecular Breeding 6 257-264, 2000

Urwin PE, Green J, Atkinson HJ Resistance to Globodera spp. in transgenic Solanum tuberosum cv. Desiree that express proteinase inhibitors. In Aspects of Applied Biology, 2000

Walker AJ, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ, Brain P, Glen DM, Shewry PR Transgenic Arabidopsis leaf tissue expressing a modified oryzacystatin shows resistance to the field slug Deroceras reticulatum (Muller) TRANSGENIC RES 8 95-103, 1999

Urwin PE, Moller SG, Blumsom JK, Atkinson HJ Continual monitoring of promoter activity in plants Methods in Enzymology 302 316-328, 1999

Urwin PE, Lilley CJ Resistance to plant parasitic nematodes conferred by GM-crops. Pesticide Outlook 10 145-149, 1999

Lilley CJ, Devlin P, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ Parasitic nematodes, Proteinases and transgenic plants Parasitology Today 15 414-417, 1999

Urwin PE, Møller SG, Blumsom JK, Atkinson HJ Continual green fluorescent protein monitoring of promoter activity in plants. Methods Enzymol 302 316-328, 1999

Lilley CJ, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ Characterization of plant nematode genes: identifying targets for a transgenic defence. Parasitology 118 Suppl S63-S72, 1999
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Roman R, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ, Gilmartin PM Hgm1, a novel male-specific gene from Heterodera glycines identified by differential mRNA display Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 95 45-52, 1998
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Moller SG, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ, McPherson MJ Nematode-induced expression of atao1, a gene encoding an extracellular diamine oxidase associated with developing vascular tissue PHYSIOL MOL PLANT P 53 73-79, 1998

Urwin PE, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ Enhanced transgenic plant resistance to nematodes by dual proteinase inhibitor constructs PLANTA 204 472-479, 1998

Lilley CJ, Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ, McPherson MJ Characterisation of cDNAs encoding serine proteinases from the soybean cyst nematode Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 89 195-207, 1997
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Urwin PE, Lilley CJ, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ Resistance to both cyst and root-knot nematodes conferred by transgenic Arabidopsis expressing a modified plant cystatin PLANT J 12 455-461, 1997

Urwin PE, Lilley CJ, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ Characterization of two cDNAs encoding cysteine proteinases from the soybean cyst nematode Heterodera glycines PARASITOLOGY 114 605-613, 1997

Urwin PE, Møller SG, Lilley CJ, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ Continual green-fluorescent protein monitoring of cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter activity in nematode-induced feeding cells in Arabidopsis thaliana. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 10 394-400, 1997
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Fordam-skelton AP, Lilley CJ, Urwin PE, Robinson NJ GUS expression in Arabidopsis directed by the 5' regions of the pea metallothionein-like gene PsMTa Plant Molecular Biology 34 659-668, 1997

Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE, Lilley CJ, McPherson MJ Engineering transgenic resistance to potato cyst nematodes In Potato Cyst Nematodes, 1997

Urwin PE, Moller SG, Lilley CJ, Atkinson HJ, McPherson MJ Continual GFP monitoring of CaMV35S promoter activity in nematode induced feeding cells in Arabidopsis thaliana Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 10 394-400, 1997

Urwin PE, Groom QJ, Robinson NJ Characterization of two cDNAs and identification of two proteins that accumulate in response to cadmium in cadmium-tolerant Datura innoxia (Mill.) cells Journal of Experimental Botany 47 1019-1024, 1996
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Lilley CJ, Urwin PE, McPherson MJ, Atkinson HJ Characterization of intestinally active proteinases of cyst-nematodes PARASITOLOGY 113 415-424, 1996

Atkinson HJ, Urwin PE, Clarke MC, McPherson MJ Image analysis of the growth of Globodera pallida and Meloidogyne incognita on transgenic tomato roots expressing cystatins J NEMATOL 28 209-215, 1996

Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ, McPherson MJ Involvement of the NH2-terminal region of oryzacystatin-I in cysteine proteinase inhibition. Protein Eng 8 1303-1307, 1995
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Urwin PE, Atkinson HJ, Waller DA, McPherson MJ Engineered oryzacystatin-I expressed in transgenic hairy roots confers resistance to Globodera pallida. Plant J 8 121-131, 1995
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Tommey AM, Shi J, Lindsay WP, Urwin PE, Robinson NJ Expression of the pea gene PSMTA in E. coli. Metal-binding properties of the expressed protein. FEBS Lett 292 48-52, 1991
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