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Sean Chapman

Staff picture: Sean Chapman
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Electron Microscopist / Molecular Pathologist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK

  • 2006-Present: Grade E, Molecular Plant Pathologist and Electron Microscopist
  • 2002-2006: Band 5SPD, Plant Cell Biologist, SCRI
  • 1999-2002: Band 5SPD, Molecular Virologist, Mylnefield Research Services
  • 1997-1999: Senior Scientist, Axis Genetics plc, Cambridge
  • 1994-1997: Band 6PD, Virologist, SCRI
  • 1992-1994: Post- Doctoral Research Assistant, Citrus Research and Education Centre, Florida
  • 1991-1992: Post- Doctoral Research Assistant, TSL, John Innes Centre

Current research interests

The major focus of my research is on developing durable resistance against the potato pathogen Phytophthora infestans that causes late blight, the most important disease of potatoes. Work at the James Hutton Institute has identified proteins secreted by the pathogen to overcome innate host resistance and some of these effector proteins have been shown to be essential for pathogenicity. In response plants have evolved resistance proteins that recognise effector proteins and trigger resistance responses to prevent infection. In turn pathogens have evolved effector alleles that evade R gene recognition.

To combat the evolution of P. infestans populations that overcome resistances deployed in currently grown cultivars new sources of resistance from wild potato species are bred in. A possible new approach is to genetically engineer R genes to recognise virulent effector alleles. As a proof of principle the potato R3a resistance gene, which recognises the evolutionarily conserved and non-redundant effector protein Avr3a has been subjected to DNA Shuffling. This process, which has been used previously in a number of projects at the James Hutton Institute including the development of the novel compact, fluorescent reporter protein iLOV, mimics the natural evolutionary processes of mutation, recombination and selection, but on accelerated timescale. Shuffling of R3a has produced mutants that, unlike the natural gene, can recognise both virulent and avirulent effector alleles. The protection provided to potatoes by these new genes is currently being assessed and the approach is being extended to other resistance genes.

In addition to my personal research I manage the Institute’s transmission electron microscope facility. Thus, I have been involved in a diverse array of projects including mapping of pectic epitopes in cell walls of potato tubers with regard to texture; localisation of human enteric pathogens in plant roots to investigate colonisation; immuno-localisation of an effector protein; analysis of ultra-structural changes resulting from potato mop-top virus infection; characterisation of plant derived virus-like particles for vaccine use and nanoparticles produced in plants or using plant extracts.

Past research

My past research has focused on plant virology, in particular on the generation of virus-based vectors and their application.

  • Production of vectors based on potato virus X and tobacco mosaic virus.
  • Analysis of mechanisms and movement processes of potato virus X, tobacco mosaic virus and potato mop top virus.
  • Optimisation of tobamovirus-based vectors for production of therapeutic proteins and vaccines in plants.
  • Use of transgenic plants and virus vectors for in planta production of vaccines.
  • Development of dicot and monocot infecting plant virus vectors for functional genomics, for example, for high-throughput localisation studies of GFP fusions.


  • Chapman, S.N. (2013) Plant viruses with rod-shaped virions., In: Hetherington, A.M. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley and Sons Ltd, Chichester.
  • Simpson, C.G.; Liney, M.; Davidson, D.; Lewandowska, D.; Kalyna, M.; Chapman, S.N.; Barta, A.; Brown, J.W.S. (2012) In vivo analysis of plant splicing., In: Stamm, S., Smith, C.J.W. & Luhrmann, R. (eds.). Alternative pre-mRNA Splicing: Theory and Protocols. Wiley-Blackwell, Weinheim, Germany, Chapter 42.
  • Chapman, S.N. (2008) Construction of infectious clones for RNA viruses: TMV., In: Foster, G.D., Johansen, I.E., Hong, Y. & Nagy, P.D. (eds.). Plant Virology Protocols: From Viral Sequences to Protein Function. 2nd edition. Humana Press, Totowa, New Jersey, pp477-490.
  • Chapman, S.N. (1998) Tobamovirus isolation and RNA extraction., In: Foster, G.D. & Johansen, I.e. (eds.). Plant Virology Protocols. Humana Press Inc, Totowa, New Jersey, pp123-129.

  • Hein, I.; Birch, P.R.J.; Chapman, S.N.; Bryan, G.J. (2011) Pathogen effector driven search for more durable potato late blight resistance., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2010, pp38-40.
  • Gillespie, T.; Toth, R.; Haupt, S.; Boevink, P.; Roberts, A.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J. (2001) A DNA-shuffled movement protein enhances virus transport by evasion of a host-mediated degradation pathway., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2000/2001, pp107-111.
  • Toth, R.L.; Chapman, S.; Pogue, G.P. (2001) Gene shuffling improves the function of Tobacco mosaic virus movement protein., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2000/2001, 103-106.

  • Chen, X.; Bayer, M.; Harrower, B.; Stevens, L.; Chapman, S.; Gilroy, E.; van Weymers, P.; Jupe, F.; Witek, K.; Jones, J.; Birch, P.; Bryan, G.; Hein, I. (2014) Using the potato genome to map and clone durable resistance genes more rapidly., Crop Protection in Northern Britain, Environmental Management and Crop Protection, West Park Conference Centre, Dundee, 25-26 February 2014.
  • Stevens, L.; Chapman, S.; Boevink, P.; Engelhardt, S.; Chen, X.; Birch, P.; Hein, I. (2014) Shuffling resistance genes to protect solanaceous plants., British Society for Plant Pathology Presidential Meeting, University of St Andrews, 1-2 September 2014.
  • Tilsner, J.; Roberts, A.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J. (2007) A viral-based screen identifies non-cell-autonomous proteins from the phloem., International Conference on Plant Vascular Biology, Taipei, Taiwan, August 2007.
  • Simpson, C.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Clark, G.; Liney, M.; Brown, J.W.S. (2007) Over-expression of Arabidopsis PTB-like proteins cause changes in splicing of a mini-exon., 6th Post-Transcriptional Regulation of Plant Gene Expression, Carry-le-Rouet, France, 10-13 May 2007.
  • Torrance, L.; Cowan, G.H.; Roberts, A.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Ziegler, A.; Savenkov, E.I. (2007) Analysis of intra-cellular trafficking of Potato mop-top virus movement protein TGB2 reveals novel associations with components of gravity signal transduction and the vesicular transport of auxin., 13th International Conference IS-MPMI, Sorrento, Italy, 21-23 July 2007.
  • Simpson, C.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Clark, G.; Liney, M.; Brown, J.W.S. (2007) Altered splicing of a mini-exon by over-expression of Arabidopsis PTB-like proteins., EURASNET 2nd Annual Meeting, Ilse de Bandor, France, 14-18 April 2007.
  • Simpson, C.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Clark, G.; Liney, M.; Brown, J.W.S. (2007) Over-expression of plant RNA binding proteins induces alternative mini-exon splicing., UK RNA Processing Meeting, Lake District, 19-21January 2007.
  • Wright, K.M.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J. (2006) The effect of commonly used inhibitors on tobacco epidermal cell structure., Imaging Membrane Dynamics, Royal Holloway College, London, 14-17 September 2006.
  • Haupt, S.; Wright, K.M.; Cowan, G.H.; Boevink, P.; Gillespie, T.; Ziegler, A.; Roberts, A.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J.; Torrance, L. (2005) Plant virus proteins traffic in the endomembrane system., Mini-Symposium on Improving the Plant Secretory System for Nutrition and Health, Grasmere, 23-26 May 2005.
  • Boevink, P.; Wright, K.M.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J. (2005) Tools for protein tracking., Plant Sciences Seminar and Workshop; Applications for Fluorescence Microscopy, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, 11-15 April 2005.
  • Boevink, P.; Chapman, S.N.; Bell, K.; Jackson, K.; Wright, K.M.; Latijnhouwers, M.; Gillespie, T.; Oparka, K.J.; Roberts, A.G. (2005) Investigating protein location, motion and function in living plant cells., Biotechnology, Havana, Cuba, 27 November - 2 December 2005.
  • Roberts, A.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Medina-Escobar, N.; Haupt, S.; Pradel, K.S.; Oparka, K.J. (2004) New insights into the structure and function of plasmodesmata., Journee Thematique De La Societe Francaise De Biologie Vegetale, Poitiers, France, 1-2 April 2004.
  • Roberts, A.G.; Boevink, P.; Calcutt, J.; Chapman, S.N.; Wright, K.M.; Oparka, K.J. (2004) New fluorescent proteins light up plant intercellular communication., SEB Plant Frontiers - The Visible Cell Biosensors and Bioreceptors Session, Exeter 3-6 July 2004.
  • Wilson, T.M.A.; Oparka, K.J.; Chapman, S.N.; Lacomme, C.; Smolenska, L.; Ingram, A.; Santa Cruz, S. (1998) Transfected plants as factories for medical, industrial and agro-environmental proteins., Proceedings of AIC Worldwide Conference on Keeping Europe Competitive with Transgenic Crops and Molecular Farming, London.
  • Chapman, S.N.; Santa Cruz, S.; Smolenska, L.; Wilson, T.M.A. (1997) Designing anisometric viruses to express and carry foreign proteins in plants., American Phytopathological Society Meeting, Rochester, NY.

Printed from /staff/sean-chapman on 30/11/22 06:32:00 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.