Professor Stephen Woodward

Professor Stephen Woodward

Personal Chair

Professor Stephen Woodward
Professor Stephen Woodward

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272669
The University of Aberdeen Cruickshank Building 2.24, St. Machar Drive, Aberdeen


Research Interests

My main research is focused on alien invasive pathogens, their detection, the damage they cause, how they are spread globally and mitigation methods that can be used to reduce their impacts on natural ecosystems. The influence of rhizosphere microbiology and host physiology on the initiation and development of root diseases remains a research focus. A range of pathogen problems is under investigation in my laboratory, although the current focus is on species of Fusarium, Verticillium, Phytophthora and Pythium. 

One major interest is in how plants in populations respond to infection, with a view to finding genotypes that may be less susceptible to pathogens and, therefore, could be used in the repopulation of ecosystems damaged by attacks of alien invasive pathogens. I am also examining the potential use of bacterial biological control agents against diseases caused in plants by fungi an Oomycetes.

Techniques in use include a range of state-of-the-art molecular and chemical methods, in collaboration with many colleagues, both within Aberdeen and further afield.


I have extensive collaborations within EU projects and other networks. Local collaborators include Professors Marcel Jaspars and Jorg Feldmann, and Dr Rainer Ebel in the School of Natural and Computing Sciences, along with Dr Andy Taylor of the James Hutton Institute. Work on biological control of pathogens, and Phytophthora as fine root pathogens is carried out in collaboration with Dr Lassaad Belbahri at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, Professor Andrea Vannini at the University of Tuscia, Italy, Dr Alberto Santini of CNR, Firenze, Italy and Professor Tuğba Doğmus at Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey. I am also collaborate with the research group of Dr Michelle Cleary of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp.

In the PROTREE project, I am working closely with Professor Julio Diez Casero and Dr Jorge Martin-Garcia of the University of Valladolid in Palencia, Spain, on the relative susceptibility of different Scottish populations of Scots pine to the pitch canker pathogen, Fusarium circinatum.

Research Grants

Furthering understanding of the biology of Verticillium wilt in cocoa in order to improve management (ESCO-Cocoa Research UK)

Detection and management of soil-borne pathogens in the nursery trade (EUPHRESCO- Forestry Commission)

New approaches for the early detection of tree health pests and pathogens (LWEC-BBSRC)

PROTREE: Promoting resilience of UK tree species to novel pests and pathogens: ecological and evolutionary solutions (LWEC-BBSRC)

Susceptibility of Scots and Lodgepole pine provenances to Red Band Needle Blight caused by Dothistroma septosporum (Scottish Forestry Trust-Forestry Commission funding)

ISEFOR: Increasing sustainability of European forests: Modelling for security against invasive pests and pathogens under climate change. (EU FP7). Coordinator

Knowledge Transfer Project: Improving yields of nematodes for the control of slug pests.

BACCARA: Biodiversity And Climate Change, A Risk Analysis (EU FP7)

SYBHES: Systems Biology of the Heterobasidion-Spruce Interaction (EU FP7 Marie Curie Fellowship to Dr Guiliana Deflorio)

The Hazel Gloves Fungus in Atlantic Hazel Woodlands (SNH, James Hutton Institute, Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen)


Teaching Responsibilities

BI2008 Diversity of Life

BI25P4 Plants, People and the Environment

BI3504 Sustainable Resource Management

PL3505 Plant-Environment Interactions (co-ordinator)

BI4016 Honours Project

BI4017 Honours Review Essay 

BI4517 Honours Review Essay

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Dr. Woodward is currently:

  • Editor-in-Chief of Forest Pathology
  • Vice-chair, COST Action FR1406: PINESTRENGTH
  • Management Committee member, COST Action FP1401: Global Warning
  • Editor-in-Chief of Forest Pathology
  • Editor of Phytopathologia Mediterranea
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Member of the British Mycological Society
  • Member of the British Society for Plant Pathology
  • Editor of the European Journal of Plant Pathology
  • Editor of Phytopathologia Mediterranea
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Member of the British Mycological Society
  • Member of the British Society for Plant Pathology