Prof. Dr. Ir. Pieter van West

Chair in Mycology, Director of the International Centre for Aquaculture Research and Development

Research Focus

The research in the Aberdeen Oomycete Laboratory is directed towards taxonomy, ecology, epidemiology, biochemistry, immunology, cellular and molecular biology and especially oomycete-host interactions to [1] understand and unravel fundamental molecular processes in oomycetes, [2] detect important and essential molecular targets, and [3] utilise these targets to develop novel control strategies.

Scientific Activities

Prof Pieter van West is the Microbiology Programme Lead in the College of Life Sciences & Medicine and the Director of the International Centre for Aquaculture Research and Development at the University of Aberdeen. He obtained his BSc (1992), MSc (1993) and PhD (1998) in molecular plant pathology at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands. In 1998 he started a postdoctoral position in the College of Life Sciences and Medicine at the University of Aberdeen. In 2000 he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to investigate fundamental molecular processes in oomycete pathogens. In 2012 he was given a Chair in Mycology at the University of Aberdeen.

His research group investigates the biology of oomycetes, also often called “water moulds”. These are fungal-like organisms that can cause economically and environmentally important diseases. They can infect plants, algae, fungi, animals and even other oomycetes. The animal pathogenic oomycetes under investigation are Saprolegnia spp. and Aphanomyces spp., which are important pathogens in the aquaculture industry.

Significant Publications

Jiang, R.H.J., de Bruijn, I., Haas, B.J., Belmonte, R., Löbach, L., Christie, J., van den Ackerveken, G., Bottin, A., Bulone, V., Díaz-Moreno, S.M., Dumas, B., Fan, L., Gaulin, E., Govers, F., Grenville-Briggs, L.J., Broad Genome Annotation Group, Horner, N.R., Levin, J.Z., Mammella, M., Meijer, H.J.G., Morris, M., Nusbaum, C., Oome, S., Phillips, A.J., Rzeszutek, E., Saraiva, M., Secombes, C.J., Seidl, M.F., Snel, B., Stassen, J.H.M., Sykes, S., Tripathy, S., van den Berg, A.H., van Rooyen, D., Vega-Arreguin, J.C., Wawra, S., Young, S., Dieguez-Uribeondo, J., Russ, C., Tyler, B.M., and van West, P. (2013). Distinctive repertoire of potential virulence genes in the genome of the oomycete fish pathogen Saprolegnia parasitica. PLoS Genetics 9(6) e1003272. 

Wawra, S., Bain, J., Durward, E., de Bruijn, I., Minor, K.L., Matena, A., Löbach, L., Whisson, S.C., Bayer, P., Porter, A.J., Birch, P.R.J., Secombes, C.J. and van West, P. (2012). Host-targeting protein 1 (SpHtp1) from the oomycete Saprolegnia parasitica translocates specifically into fish cells in a tyrosine-O-sulphate–dependent manner. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109, 2096-2101.

Whisson, S.C., Boevink, P.C., Moleleki, L., Avrova, A.O., Morales, J.G., Gilroy, E.M., Armstrong, M.R., Grouffaud, S., van West, P., Chapman, S., Hein, I., Toth, I.K., Pritchard, L., and Birch, P.R.J. (2007). A translocation signal for delivery of oomycete effector proteins into host plant cells. Nature 450,115-118.


Contact information

Aberdeen Oomycete Labotratory
Institute of Medical Sciences
AB25 2ZD