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University of Exeter Biologist awarded scientific accolade

PUBLISHED: 14:21 29 May 2014

Professor Nick Talbot of the University of Exeter's College of Life and Environmental Sciences. Photo by The University of Exeter.

Professor Nick Talbot of the University of Exeter's College of Life and Environmental Sciences. Photo by The University of Exeter.

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A BIOLOGIST from the University of Exeter has been awarded the premier scientific accolade in the UK.

Professor Nick Talbot of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

His election follows his work in determining the mechanisms by which fungi cause disease in plants. His discoveries have led to new insights into fungal developmental biology, cellular differentiation and how fungi have evolved the capacity to cause some of the most important crop diseases.

Professor Talbot’s research group are best known for their studies on rice blast disease, the most devastating disease of cultivated rice, which causes enormous damage to the global rice harvest, a loss which could provide food to 60 million people.

Speaking about his election, Professor Talbot says: “I am incredibly honoured and humbled to receive this recognition by the Royal Society. I am also very proud that fungal biology, as a discipline, has been honoured in this way.

“Exeter has a longstanding history of fungal biology research from the pioneering contributions of Geoffrey Ainsworth, John Webster, Norman Todd, and Dennis Pitt, to the present day work of my colleagues Gero Steinberg, Ken Haynes, Sarah Gurr, Tom Richards, Steve Aves, Steve Bates and many others. We have a fantastic group of biologists at Exeter interested in microbial diseases and the greatest discoveries are still ahead of us all.”

Professor Talbot’s research has mainly been carried out in a 20-year research career at Exeter. It is associated with understanding how specialised infection cells, called appressoria, bring about plant infection.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, Sir Steve Smith, adds: “Professor Talbot’s insightful research has shaped the modern understanding of the causes behind some of the most virulent crop diseases, which affect millions of people around the world. We are extremely proud of his achievements and this Fellowship is richly deserved. Being elected as an FRS is the pinnacle of academic achievement for scientists and it is therefore so fitting to see the person who has led the resurgence of science at Exeter being so honoured by his peers.”

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