Dr Fiona Burnett

Research Interests

My research interests are focused around the measurement of crop disease risk and the resultant need for management actions by growers - be they agronomic or input related.

The development of judgement aids for farmers is a major aim of my work to allow them to accurately assess the likely benefits or costs to any given action, as well as the provision of disease forecasts and up-to-date technical information on fungicide efficacy.

The study of fungicide resistance is an important aspect of this work alongside developing management strategies to minimise resistance development. Currently I work on monitoring for changes in pathogen populations and also on managing resistance risk in common fungicide groups such as the azoles.

Disease risk forecasting is closely linked to climate change, and modelling and mapping disease risk under past UK seasons and aligning this to predicated climate change scenarios is a feature of my work.

I am particularly involved in the study of cereal foliar fungal diseases on both wheat and barley and also in the diseases of the roots and stem base that are particularly linked to systems and rotations.

My work covers cereals as well as  the main arable crops and the study of the soil borne clubroot pathogen of oilseed rape and vegetables is a specific example of an important area of work of significant impact in arable rotations. As with my other work this is linked to predicting and managing disease risk in the whole rotation and with projecting this forwards under predicated climate change scenarios.

I manage the SRUC Crop Clinic which provides commercial diagnostic services to growers and advisers throughout the UK. I also provide specialist back up on crop disease management to farmers and advisers either as telephone advise, field visits or as technical notes or subscription reports like the Crop Protection report. I teach on BASIS courses, covering integrated crop management of cereal and potatoes as well as on undergraduate courses where I provide specialist crop management lectures. I also supervise undergraduate and post graduate student projects.

PhD Students

Marta Piotrowska - Characterisation of mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase gene for potential fungicide resistance in Ramularia collo-cygni

Research Projects

  • Clubroot control using novel and sustainable methods (Defra)
  • The development of judgement tools for barley pathogens (Scottish Government)
  • Disease competition dynamics in barley (Scottish Government)
  • Understanding evolution and selection of azole resistance mechanisms in UK populations of Mycosphaerella graminicola (Defra Arable LINK)
  • Forecasting eyespot development and yield losses in winter wheat (HGCA)
  • Seed treatment efficacy against damping off diseases in oilseed rape (Industry)
  • Fungicide efficacy against diseases of the stem base in wheat (Industry)


  • BASIS integrated crop management modules
  • Disease management in non combinable crops

Other Commitments

  • SRUC Crop Clinic Manager
  • Secretary for the Scottish Mycology and Plant Pathology Club
  • Member of the organising committee for Crop Protection in Northern Britain Conferences
  • Quality Systems Manager for Crop and Soil Systems and Arable Select
  • Biological Safety Officer for SRUC Edinburgh
  • Radiation Protection Officer for SRUC Edinburgh

Selected Publications

  • Fraaije, B.A., Burnett, F.J., Clark, W.S., Motteram, J. & Lucas, J.A. (2005). Resistance development to QoI inhibitors in populations of Mycosphaerella graminicola in the UK. In: Dehne, H.W., Gisi, U., Kuck, K.H., Russell, P.E. and H. Lyr eds, Modern Fungicides and Antifungal Compounds IV, BCPC, Alton, UK.
  • Fraaije, B.A., Lucas, J.A., Clark, W.S. & Burnett F.J. (2003). QoI resistance development in populations of cereal pathogens in the UK. In: Proceedings of the BCPC Congress, Crop Science andTechnology 2003. Volume 2, 689-94.
  • BAS Napier, RA Bayles, PL Stigwood and FJ Burnett (2000). Sensitivity of powdery mildew and yellow rust to DMI, morpholine and strobilurin fungicides in England and Scotland. Proceedings of the British Crop Protection Council Conference pests and Diseases 2000. pp 427- 434.
  • Burnett, F. J., Oxley, S. J. P., Laing, A. P. (2000). The use of PCR diagnostics in determining eyespot control strategies in wheat. Proceedings of Brighton Crop Protection Conference 2000.
  • Hughes, G., McRoberts, N., Burnett, F. J. (1999). Decision-making and diagnosis in disease management. Plant Pathology 48, 147-153. Full Text

Prof Fiona Burnett

Group Manager - Crop & Soils Systems

Address: Crop & Soils Systems, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4133

Fax: 0131 535 4144

E-mail: fiona.burnett@sruc.ac.uk