John Turner


  • 1.46 Biology

Personal profile

Administrative Posts

  • Associate Dean for Enterprise and Engagement
  • Norwich Research Park Professor for the Biosciences


  • Norwich Research Park Professor for Biosciences 2009-present
  • Associate Dean for Enterprise and Engagement 2009-present
  • Head of School, School of Biological Sciences, 2003- 2008
  • External Fellow of the John Innes Centre, 2001- present
  • Professor of Plant Science, School of Biological Sciences, UEA, 2001- present
  • Reader in Biological Sciences, UEA; 2000
  • Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences, UEA 1994-2000
  • Lecturer in Biological Sciences, UEA,1976-1994
  • PhD in Plant Pathology, University of Missouri, 1973-1976
  • BSc Agricultural Botany, 1st Class Hons., University of Leeds,1968-1971; MSc in Pathology, University of Missouri, USA, 1971-1973

Key Research Interests

My research is devoted to discover mechanisms by which plants reduce the effects of environmental stress. In particular I am interested in the broad-spectrum defences used by plants to deter pests and pathogens. My current interest is to uncouple defence responses from growth inhibition- processes. It is generally accepted that plants face the dilemma to “grow or to defend”. For example, plants exposed to a variety of types of injury have activated defences, and they stop growing. At the other extreme, plants that grow to escape shading from neighbours have reduced capacity to defend. We also endeavour to use the knowledge gained from this work to enhance crop productivity. Our current work builds on previous work in which we have discovered the key regulators of jasmonate-induced defences. For this we made transgenic Arabidopsis lines containing luciferase as a reporter for the JA- and wound-inducible VSP promoter, mutagenised the seed, and selected the mutants, cev1-cev7 which had constitutive activation of the reporter, coi1 which failed to express the reporter, and sci1-sci5 that suppressed coi1. Characterisation of the genes defined by these mutants has identified key components of the JA signal-response pathway. We also identified a novel type of Resistance Gene, represented by RPW8.1 and RPW8.2, which confer resistance to a broad-spectrum of pathogens.

Life in our research group

At UEA I have supervised research projects carried out by postdoctoral researchers, PhD students, MSc students, technical staff and visitors continuously over the past 30 years or so, and it is a source of great pride for me to see that these researchers have gone on to positions of significant research leadership not only in the UK, but also in (alphabetical order) Algeria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, US, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. One of the reasons that these scientists have done so well is that my lab consistently attracts the very best students and researchers and consistently produces the very best research papers illustrating significant advances in knowledge. This is as true of the current cohort as it was of the very first. The secret? That is easy: excellent students and researchers, interesting and important research projects, excellent facilities, and a friendly and supportive working environment. I would like to say this is true of my lab only, but it is also true throughout the School. And this research excellence in depth in the School of Biological Sciences provides a vital, dynamic research environment that benefits everyone, but especially those in my group.

PhD Positions

Please email me to discuss PhD opportunities and projects within the School of Biological Sciences

Postdocs & Fellows

I am always happy to discuss possibilities for postdoctoral work and collaborations. Possible funding routes include applying for fellowships, e.g. EU Marie Curie fellowships, with me acting as sponsor, or grant applications with you as a named postdoc.

Areas of Expertise

Plant molecular biology; plant pathology.