Professor Jurriaan Ton

Dr Jurriaan Ton

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 0081


Room C64, Alfred Denny Building



Professor of Plant Environmental Signalling, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK (2015-present)
Co-director of the Plant Production and Protection (P3) Centre of excellence for translational agricultural technologies ( (2014-present)
ERC Research Fellow, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK (2012)
Lecturer, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK (2011-2015)
Principal Investigator and BBSRC Research Fellow, Rothamsted Research Centre of Sustainable Pest and Disease Management, UK (2008-2011)
Principal Investigator and NWO-VENI Research Fellow, Department of Biology, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (2004-2008)
Postdoctoral researcher, Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Entomology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland (2004)
Postdoctoral researcher, Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland (2001-2003)
Postdoctoral researcher, Section Phytopathology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (2001)
PhD in Biology, Section Phytopathology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (2001)
MSc in Biology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (1996)

Professional Activities

Monitoring editor of Plant Physiology (2012-present)

Key Research Interests

Jurrian Ton Research Interests edit

Our lab investigates how plants employ their immune system to adapt to environmental stress. Plants in relatively stress-free environments invest most of their resources in growth and reproduction. If plants live in hostile environments, and are attacked by harmful microbes or insects, they activate inducible defence mechanisms. Activations of these defences is often costly, due to allocation of limited resources to defensive compounds, or toxicity of the defence response to the plant's own metabolism. Plants are also capable of acquiring a less costly form of resistance, which can be activated after perception of environmental alarm signals that sensitise the plant's immune system. This 'defence priming' results in a faster and/or stronger defence reaction when the plant is attacked at a later stage.

Research in our lab is divided between four themes. We have a long-standing interest in the mechanisms by which priming-inducing chemicals (such as beta-aminobutyric acid (BABA)) trigger immune priming. This work led to the discovery of the BABA receptor, which controls broad-spectrum disease resistance and plant growth via separate signalling pathways (Luna et al., 2014). A large section of the lab investigates the epi-genetic basis of immune priming, which stems from our previous discovery that heavily diseased Arabidopsis plants can prime the immune system of their progeny (Luna et al., 2012). Current efforts focus on the role of DNA methylation in disease resistance (Lopez et al., 2016) and transgenerational immune priming.

A third line of research focuses on the role of root exudation chemistry in shaping disease suppresive microbial soil communities. Part of this work focuses on the role of benzoxazinoid exudates in shaping root microbial communities in maize (Neal et al., 2012). Finally, we collaborate with agricultural companies (such as ENZA Zaden) to translate our basic research and optimise crop protection through novel defence priming strategies (Luna et al., 2016).

Jurriaan Ton research interests 2


  • APS 222 - Level 2 Animal and Plant Science Tutorials
  • APS 276 - Level 2 Symbiosis
  • APS 308 – Level 3 Environmental Regulation in Plants
  • APS 330 - Level 3 Research Projects
  • APS 331 - Level 3 Dissertations
  • APS 406 - Level 4 Research Projects
  • MRes and PhD students


  • Dr Oliver Berkowitz, Murdoch University, Australia
  • Professor Vincent Colot, INRA, France
  • Dr Paal Krokene and Dr Melissa Megeroy, NIBIO, Norway
  • Dr Klaus Schlaeppi, Agroscope, Switzerland
  • Dr Matthias Erb, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Dr Victor Flors, University of Jaume I, Spain
  • Professor David Baulcombe, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Professor Corné Pieterse, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Dr Mike Roberts, University of Lancaster, UK

Research Group

Research Fellows and Postdoctoral workers

  • Dr Pierre Pétriacq (P3 Research Fellow)
  • Dr Ana Lopez-Sanchez
  • Dr Joost Stassen
  • Dr Ritushree Jain
  • Dr Anne Cotton


David Pardo

PhD Students

  • Roland Schwarzenbacher
  • Alex Williams
  • Will Buswell
  • Emma Bailey
  • Roberta Fabrizi
  • Leonardo Furci
  • Samuel Wilkinson

MRes Student

Mustafa Yassin

Ton lab group members


  • Dr Estrella Luna, University of Sheffield, UK
  • Dr Shakoor Ahmad, Rothamsted Research, UK
  • Dr Yuhua Zhang, Rothamsted Research, UK
  • Dr Marieke van Hulten, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Dr Sjoerd van der Ent, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

View Publications