Professor Robert Jackson HND, BSc, PhD, PGCAP

Professor Robert Jackson

School of Biosciences
Chair in Tree Pathology
Head of School of Biosciences

Contact details

717, School of Biosciences

Professor Rob Jackson is an expert in bacteria-plant interactions, making major contributions to the understanding of how pathogens cause disease and how pathogens evolve to evade host immunity. He also has interests in applied biology questions relating to biocontrol approaches to treat plant diseases.


Professor Rob Jackson did an HND and Bachelor of Science in Applied Biological Sciences at Bristol Polytechnic/the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol. He stayed on to do his PhD studying the role plasmids in the virulence of the plant pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola and this led to his first postdoctoral post. He then did a postdoctoral post at the University of Oxford studing beneficial bacteria followed by a short fellowship at the University of Auckland, another short term post at UWE, and a two year postdoctoral post at the University of Bath. He took up a lectureship at the University of Reading, becoming an Associate Professor there in 2013. He was promoted to Professor of Molecular Microbiology in 2016 and became the Head of School of Biological Sciences from 2017-2020. In 2020, he took up the post of Director of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) and BIFoR Chair in Tree Pathology at the University of Birmingham. He also took on the role as Deputy Head of School of Biosciences. He holds a Visiting Professorship at the University of Reading and Adjunct Professorship at the University of Akureyri, Iceland.


Bacterial plant pathogens, beneficial bacteria, plant-bacteria interactions, insect-bacteria interactions, gene networks, horizontal gene transfer, bacterial evolution

Other activities

Vice President of the British Society for Plant Pathology

Member of the Action Oak Research & Monitoring Sub-Committee

External Examiner (MRes), Imperial College

External Examiner (UG), The University of Edinburgh

Visiting Professor, University of Reading

Adjunct Professor, University of Akureyri

Senior Editor, Molecular Plant Pathology journal

UK Management Committee member for COST Action CA16110 Control of Human Pathogenic Micro-organisms in Plant Production Sytems


1. Research outputs – peer reviewed journals, not including reviews

53. Ramírez, M., Moncada, R. N., Villegas‐Escobar, V., Jackson, R. W. and Ramírez, C. A. (2020) Phylogenetic and pathogenic variability of strains of Ralstonia solanacearum causing moko disease in Colombia. Plant Pathology, 69, 360-369.

52. Neale, H.C., Jackson, R.W., Preston, G.M., Arnold, D.L. (2018) Supercoiling of an excised genomic island represses effector gene expression to prevent activation of host resistance. Molecular Microbiology, 110: 444-454.

51. Dorati, F., Barrett, G. A., Sanchez-Contreras, M., Arseneault, T., San Jose, M., Studholme, D., Murillo, J., Caballero, P., Waterfield, N., Arnold, D., Shaw, L. J. and Jackson, R. W. (2018) Coping with environmental eukaryotes; identification of Pseudomonas syringae genes during the interaction with alternative hosts or predators. Microorganisms, 6: 1-23.

50. Hulin, M.T., Armitage, A.D., Vicente, J. G., Holub, E.B., Baxter, L., Bates, H.J., Mansfield, J.W., Jackson, R.W., Harrison, R.J. (2018) Comparative genomics of Pseudomonas syringae reveals convergent gene gain and loss associated with specialisation onto cherry (Prunus avium). New Phytologist, 219: 672-696.

49. Hulin, M. T., Masfield, J.W., Brain, P., Xu, X., Jackson, R.W., and Harrison, R.J. (2018) Characterisation of the pathogenicity of strains of Pseudomonas syringae towards cherry and plum. Plant Pathology, 67: 1177-1193.

48. Roberts, R., Jackson, R.W., Mauchline, T.H., Hirsch, P.R., Shaw, L.J., Döring, T.F. and, Jones, H.E. (2017) Is there sufficient Ensifer and Rhizobium species diversity in UK farmland soils to support red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (T. repens), lucerne (Medicago sativa) and black medic (M. lupulina)? Applied Soil Ecology 120:35-43.

47. Neale, H.C., Laister, R., Payne, J., Preston, G., Jackson, R.W., and Arnold, D.L. (2016) A low frequency persistent reservoir of a genomic island in a pathogen population ensures island survival and improves pathogen fitness in a susceptible host. Environmental Microbiology, 18: 4144-52..

46. Crozier, L., Hedley, P.E., Morris, J., Wagstaff, C., Andrews, S.C., Toth, I., Jackson, R.W. and Holden, N.J. (2016) Whole-Transcriptome Analysis of Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (Sakai) Suggests Plant-Species-Specific Metabolic Responses on Exposure to Spinach and Lettuce Extracts. Frontiers in Microbiology 7:1088.

45. O'Leary, B.M., Neale, H.C., Geilfus, C.M., Jackson, R.W., Arnold, D.L., and Preston, G.M. (2016) Early changes in apoplast composition associated with defence and disease in interactions between Phaseolus vulgaris and the halo blight pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. Plant, Cell and Environment 39:2172-84.

44. Robinson, R.J., Fraaije, B.A., Clark, I.M., Jackson, R.W., Hirsch, P.R., and Mauchline TH. (2016) Wheat seed embryo excision enables the creation of axenic seedlings and Koch's postulates testing of putative bacterial endophytes. Scientific Reports 6: 25581.

43. Li, B., Hulin, M.T., Brain, P., Mansfield, J.W., Jackson, R.W. and Harrison, R.J. (2016) Rapid, automated detection of stem canker symptoms in woody perennials using artificial neural network analysis. Plant Methods In Press doi: 10.1186/s13007-015-0100-8

42. Taylor, T.B., Mulley, G. Dills, A.H. Alsohim, A.S., McGuffin, L.J., Studholme, D.J., Silby, M.W., Brockhurst, M.A., Johnson, L.J. and Jackson, R.W. (2015) Evolutionary resurrection of flagellar motility via rewiring of the nitrogen regulation system. Science 347, 1014-1017.

41. Iftikhar, Y., Jackson, R. and Neuman, B.W. (2015) Detection of tobacco mosaic tobamovirus in cigarettes through RT-PCR. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Sciences 52, 667-670.

40. Robinson, R.J., Fraaije, B.A., Clark, I.M., Jackson, R., Hirsch, P.R. and Mauchline, T.H. (2015) Endophytic bacterial community composition in wheat (Triticum aestivum) is determined by plant tissue type, developmental stage and soil nutrient availability. Plant and Soil, published online, doi 10.​1007/​s11104-015-2495-4.

39. Manoharan, B., Neale, H.C., Hancock, J.T., Jackson, R.W. and Arnold, D.L. (2015) The identification of genes important in Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola plant colonization using in vitro screening of transposon libraries. PLoS One 10, e0137355.

38. Nykyri, J., Fang, X., Dorati, F., Bakr, R., Pasanen, M., Niemi, O., Palva, E.T., Jackson, R.W. and Pirhonen, M. (2014) Evidence that nematodes may vector the soft rot‐causing enterobacterial phytopathogens. Plant Pathology 63, 747-757.

37. Saxon, E.B., Jackson, R.W., Bhumbra, S., Smith, T., and Sockett, R.E. (2014) Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus HD100 guards against Pseudomonas tolaasii brown-blotch lesions on the surface of post-harvest Agaricus bisporus supermarket mushrooms. BMC Microbiol. 14,163.

36. Holmes, A., Birse, L., Jackson, R.W. and Holden, N.J. (2014) An optimized method for the extraction of bacterial mRNA from plant roots infected with Escherichia coli O157:H7. Frontiers in Microbiology 5:286.

35. Alsohim, A.S., Taylor, T.B., Barrett, G.A., Gallie, J., Zhang, X.X., Altamirano-Junqueira, A.E., Johnson, L.J., Rainey, P.B. and Jackson, R.W. (2014) The biosurfactant viscosin produced by Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 aids spreading motility and plant growth promotion. Environmental Microbiology, 16, 2267-2281.

34. Licciardello, G., Jackson, R.W.,  Bella, P., Strano, C.P.,  Catara, A.F., Arnold, D.L., Venturi, V., Silby, M.W. and Catara, V. (2014)Draft genome sequence of Pseudomonas corrugata, a phytopathogenic bacterium with potential industrial applications. Journal of Biotechnology, 10, 65-66.

33. Rhodes, G., Bosma, H., Studholme, D., Arnold, D.L., Jackson, R.W. and Pickup, R.W. (2014) The rulB gene of plasmid pWW0 is a hotspot for the site-specific insertion of integron-like elements found in the chromosomes of environmental Pseudomonas fluorescens group bacteria. Environmental Microbiology, 16, 2374-2388.

32. Kljujev, I., Raicevic, V., Andrews, S., Jackson, R., Lalevic, B. and Dorati, F. (2012) Journal of Hygienic Engineering and Design

31. Haapalainen, M., Mosorin, H., Dorati, F., Wu, R.-F., Roine, E., Taira, S., Nissinen, R., Mattinen, L., Jackson, R., Pirhonen, M. and Lin, N.-C. (2012) Hcp2, a Secreted Protein of the Phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. Tomato DC3000, Is Required for Fitness for Competition against Bacteria and Yeasts. Journal of Bacteriology 194: 4810-4822.

30. Bardaji, L., Anorga, M., Jackson, R.W., Martinez-Bilbao, A., Yanguas, N. and Murillo, J. (2011) Miniature Transposable Sequences Are Frequently Mobilized in the Bacterial Plant Pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. PLoS One 6: e25773.

29. Godfrey, S.A.C., Lovell, H.C., Mansfield, J.W., Corry, D.S., Jackson, R.W. and Arnold, D.L. (2011) The Stealth Episome: Suppression of Gene Expression on the Excised Genomic Island PPHGI-1 from Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. PLoS Pathogens 7: e1002010.

28. Amos, M.R., Sanchez-Contreras, M., Jackson, R.W., Muñoz-Berbel, X., Ciche, T.A., Yang, G., Cooper, R.M., Waterfield, N.R. (2011) The phosphomannose isomerase gene manA influences mannose utilisation, exopolysaccharide structure and biofilm formation in Photorhabdus luminescens. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77: 776-785.

27. Lovell, H.C., Jackson, R.W., Mansfield, J.W., Godfrey, S.A., Hancock, J.T., Desikan, R. and Arnold, D.L. (2010) In planta conditions induce genomic changes in Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. Molecular Plant Pathology 12: 167-176.

26. Godfrey, S.A., Mansfield, J.W., Corry, D.S., Lovell, H.C., Jackson, R.W. and Arnold, D.L. (2010) Confocal Imaging of Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola Colony Development in Bean Reveals Reduced Multiplication of Strains Containing the Genomic Island PPHGI-1. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 23: 1294-302.

25. Green, S., Studholme, D.J., Laue, B.E., Dorati, F., Lovell, H., Arnold, D., Cottrell, J.E., Bridgett, S., Blaxter, M., Huitema, E., Thwaites, R., Sharp, P.M., Jackson, R.W. and Kamoun, S. (2010) Comparative genome analysis provides insights into the evolution and adaptation of Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi on Aesculus hippocastanum. PLoS One 5: e10224.

24. Knight, C.G., Zhang, X.X., Gunn, A., Brenner, T. Jackson, R.W., Giddens, S.R., Prabhakar, S., Zitzmann, N. and Rainey, P.B. (2010) Testing temperature-induced proteomic changes in the plant-associated bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25.Environmental Microbiology Reports2: 396-402.

23. Lovell, H.C., Mansfield, J.W., Godfrey, S.A.C., Jackson, R.W., Hancock, J.T. and Arnold, D.L. (2009) Bacterial Evolution by Genomic Island Transfer Occurs via DNA Transformation In Planta. Current Biology 19: 1586-1590.

22. Silby, M.W., Cerdeno-Tarraga, A.M., Vernikos, G.S., Giddens, S.R., Jackson, R.W. and 29 others (2009) Genomic and genetic analyses of diversity and plant interactions of Pseudomonas fluorescens. Genome Biology 10: R51. Achieved “Highly Accessed” status.

21. Aslam, S.N., Erbs, G., Morrissey, K.L., Newman, M-A.,  Chinchilla, D.,  Boller, T., Molinaro, A., Jackson, R.W and Cooper, R.M. (2009) MAMPs: signatures, synergy, size and charge influence mobility, perception and host defence responses. Molecular Plant Pathology 10: 375-387. Picked as a Research Highlight paper by MPP.

20. Aslam, S.N., Newman, M-A.,  Erbs, G., Morrissey, K.L., Chinchilla, D.,  Boller, T., Jensen, T.T., De Castro, C., Ierano, T., Molinaro, A., Jackson, R.W., Knight, M.R. and Cooper, R.M. (2008) Bacterial polysaccharides suppress induced innate immunity by calcium chelation. Current Biology 18: 1078-1083.

19. Giddens, S.R. Jackson, R.W., Moon, C.D., Gehrig, S., Zhang, X-X. and Rainey, P.B. (2007)  Mutational activation of niche specific genes provides insights into regulatory networks and bacterial function in a complex environment. PNAS 104: 18247-252.

18. Ma, Z., Smith, J.J., Zhao, Y., Jackson, R.W., Arnold, D.L. Murillo, J. and Sundin, G. (2007) Phylogenetic Analysis of the pPT23A Plasmid Family of Pseudomonas syringae. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 73: 1287-1295.

17. Matthijs, S., Tehrani, K. A., Laus, G., Jackson, R., Cooper, R.M. and Cornelis, P. (2007) Thioquinolobactin, a Pseudomonas siderophore with anti-fungal and anti-Pythium activity. Environmental Microbiology, 9: 425-434.

16. Paynter, C.D. Salisbury, V.C., Arnold, D.L. and Jackson, R.W. (2006) The use of bioluminescence for monitoring in planta growth dynamics of a Pseudomonas syringae plant pathogen. European Journal of Plant Pathology 115: 363-366.

15. Jackson, R.W., Preston, G.M., and Rainey, P.B. (2005) Genetic characterisation of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 rsp gene expression in the phytosphere and in vitro. Journal of Bacteriology 187: 8477-8488. Corresponding author.

14. Pitman, A.R., Jackson, R.W., Mansfield, J.W.,Kaitell, V., Thwaites, R. and Arnold, D.L. (2005) Exposure to host resistance mechanisms drives evolution of bacterial virulence in plants. Current Biology 15:2230-2235.

13. Scortichini, M. Rossi, M.P. Loreti, S., Bosco, A., Fiori, M., Jackson, R.W., Stead, D.E., Aspin, A., Marchesi, U., Zini, M. and Janse, J.D. (2005) Pseudomonas syringae pv. coryli (pv. nov.), the causal agent of bacterial twig dieback of Corylus avellana L. Phytopathology, 95:1316-1324.

12. Joardar, V., Lindeberg, M., Jackson, R.W. and 28 other authors. (2005) Whole-genome sequence analysis of Pseudomonas syringae pv phaseolicola 1448A reveals divergence among pathovars in genes involved in virulence and transposition. Journal of Bacteriology 187: 6488-6498.

11. Rivas, L.A., Mansfield, J., Tsiamis, G., Jackson, R.W., and Murillo, J. (2005) Changes in race-specific virulence in Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola are associated with a chimeric transposable element and rare deletion events in a plasmid-borne pathogenicity island. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 71:3778-3785.

10. Jackson, R.W., Mansfield, J.W., Ammouneh, H., Dutton, L.C., Wharton, B., Ortiz-Barredo, A., Arnold, D.L., Tsiamis, G., Sesma, A., Butcher, D., Boch, J., Kim, Y.J., Martin, G.B., Tegli, S., Murillo, J. and Alan Vivian (2002) Location and activity of members of a family of virPphA homologues in pathovars of Pseudomonas syringae and P. savastanoi. Molecular Plant Pathology 3: 205-216. Corresponding author.

9. Arnold, D.L., Jackson, R.W., Fillingham, A.J., Goss, S.C., Taylor, J.D., Mansfield, J.W. and Vivian, A. (2001) Highly conserved sequences flank avirulence genes: isolation of novel avirulence genes from Pseudomonas syringae pv pisi. Microbiology 147: 1171-1182.

8. Arnold D.L., Gibbon, M.J., Jackson, R.W., Wood, J.R., Brown, J., Mansfield, J.W., Taylor J.D. and Vivian,A. (2001) Molecular characterization of avrPphD, a widely-distributed gene from Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola involved in non-host recognition by pea (Pisum sativum). Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology, 58: 55-62.

7. Jackson, R.W., Mansfield, J.W., Arnold, D.L., Sesma, A., Paynter, C.D., Murillo, J., Taylor, J.D. and Vivian, A. (2000) Excision from tRNA genes of a large chromosomal region, carrying avrPphB, associated with race change in the bean pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. Molecular Microbiology 38: 186-197.

6. Yamamoto, S., Kasai, H., Arnold, D.L., Jackson, R.W., Vivian, A. and Harayama, S. (2000) Phylogeny of the genus Pseudomonas: intrageneric structure reconstructed from the nucleotide sequences of gyrB and rpoD genes. Microbiology: Pseudomonas Special Issue 146: 2385-2394.

5. Tsiamis, G., Mansfield, J.W., Hockenhull, R., Jackson, R.W., Sesma, A., Athanassopoulos, E., Bennett, M.A., Stevens, C., Vivian, A., Taylor, J.D. and Murillo, J. (2000) Cultivar-specific avirulence and virulence functions assigned to avrPphF in Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola, the cause of bean halo blight disease. EMBO Journal 19: 3204-3214.

4. Arnold, D.L., Jackson, R.W. and Vivian, A. (2000) Evidence for mobility of an avirulence gene, avrPpiA1, between the chromosome and plasmids of races of Pseudomonas syringae pv. pisi. Molecular Plant Pathology 1: 195-199

3. Jackson, R.W., Athanassopoulos, E., Tsiamis, G., Mansfield, J.W., Sesma, A., Arnold, D.L., Gibbon, M.J., Murillo, J., Taylor, J.D. and Vivian, A. (1999) Identification of a pathogenicity island, which contains genes for virulence and avirulence, on a large native plasmid in the bean pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pathovar phaseolicola. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 96: 10875-10880.

2. Arnold, D.L., Brown, J., Jackson, R.W. and Vivian, A. (1999) A dispensable region of the chromosome which is associated with an avirulence gene in Pseudomonas syringae pv. pisi. Microbiology 145: 135-141.

1. Cournoyer, B., Arnold, D., Jackson, R. and Vivian, A. (1996) Phylogenetic evidence for a diversification of Pseudomonas syringae pv. pisi race 4 strains into two distinct lineages. Phytopathology 86: 1051-1056.


1. Research outputs – peer reviewed, Reviews (all invited)

13. Rabiey, M., Hailey, L. E., Roy, S. R., Grenz, K., Al-Zadjali, M. A. S., Barrett, G. A. and Jackson, R. W. (2019) Endophytes vs tree pathogens and pests: can they be used as biological control agents to improve tree health? European Journal of Plant Pathology. 155, 711-729.

12. Taylor, T., Mulley, G., McGuffin, L., Johnson, L., Brockhurst, M., Arseneault, T., Silby, M. and Jackson, R. (2015) Evolutionary rewiring of bacterial regulatory networks. Microbial Cell 2, 256-258.

11. Holden, N.J., Jackson, R.W. and Schikora, A. (2015) Editorial on plants as alternative hosts for human and animal pathogens. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6. 397.

10. Taylor, T.B., Johnson, L.J., Jackson, R.W., Brockhurst, M.B. and Dash, P.R. (2013) First steps in experimental cancer evolution. Evolutionary Applications 6, 535-548.

9. Jackson, R. W., Vinatzer, B., Arnold, D.L., Dorus, S. and Murillo, J. (2011) The influence of the accessory genome on bacterial pathogen evolution. Mobile Genetic Elements 1: 55-65.

8. Arnold, D.L and Jackson, R.W. (2011) Bacterial genomes: evolution of pathogenicity. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 14: 385-391 [

7. Silby, M.W., Winstanley, C., Godfrey, S.A.C., Levy, S.B. and Jackson, R.W. (2011) Pseudomonas genomes: diverse and adaptable. FEMS Microbiology Reviews 35: 652-680.

6. Arnold, D.L., Lovell, H.C., Jackson, R.W. and Mansfield, J.W. (2011) Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola: from ‘has bean’ to supermodel. Molecular Plant Pathology 12: 617-627.

5. Jackson, R.W., Johnson, L.J., Clarke, S.R. and Arnold, D.L. (2011) Bacterial pathogen evolution: breaking news. Trends in Genetics 27: 32-40.

4. Arnold, D.L., Jackson, R.W., Waterfield, N. R. and Mansfield, J.W. (2007)Evolution of microbial virulence – the benefits of stress. Trends in Genetics 6: 293-300.

3. Jackson, R.W. and Giddens, S.R. (2006) Development and application of in vivo expression technology (IVET) for analysing microbial gene expression in complex environments. Infectious Disorders – Drug Targets 6: 207-240.

2. Arnold. D.L., Pitman, A. and Jackson, R.W. (2003) Pathogenicity and genomic islands in plant pathogenic bacteria. Molecular Plant Pathology 4, 407-422.

1. Vivian, A., Murillo, J. and Jackson, R. (2001) The roles of plasmids in phytopathogenic bacteria: mobile arsenals? Microbiology 147: 763-780.

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