John Elphinstone

John is a senior phytobacteriologist at Fera. He is involved in bacteriology diagnostic services as well as being instrumental in the research on taxonomy, diagnosis, epidemiology and control of phytopathogenic bacteria.


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  • Area of expertise
    Bacterial diseases of potato and other crops
  • Years of experience
  • Highest qualification

John regularly consults with government and the EU on development and implementation of policy on monitoring and eradication of quarantine bacteria.

John is a member of the EPPO panel on diagnosis of plant pathogenic bacteria and a founding member of the European Association of Phytobacteriologists. He is currently managing research projects on bacterial pathogens of potatoes (Pectobacterium spp. and Ralstonia solanacearum), tomatoes (rhizogenic Rhizobium radiobacter) and mushrooms (Pseudomonas tolaasii and P. gingeri) as well as understanding the biological diversity of soils in relation to plant health and productivity.

Potato crop testing

Potatoes are just one of the crops the Fera crop health team can test for problems.

Potato Testing
Attending or speaking at

Latest Papers and Articles

Abdurahman A, Griffin D, Elphinstone JG, Struik PC, Schulz S, Schulte-Geldermann E and Sharma K. 2017. Molecular characterization of Ralstonia solanacearum strains from Ethiopia and tracing potential source of bacterial wilt disease outbreak in seed potatoes. Plant Pathology DOI: 10.1111/ppa.12661

Sapp M, Lewis E, Moss S, Barrett B, Kirk S, Elphinstone J, Denman S. 2016. Identification of bacteria associated with the acute oak decline syndrome in England using Metabarcoding. Forests 2016, 7(5), 95; doi:10.3390/f7050095

Pritchard L, Glover R, Humphris S, Elphinstone JG and Toth IK. 2015. Genomics and taxonomy in diagnostics for food security. Analytical Methods 8; 12 DOI: 10.1039/c5ay02550h. 

Skelsey, P., Elphinstone, J. G., Saddler, G. S., Wale, S. J. and Toth, I. K. (2015), Spatial analysis of blackleg-affected seed potato crops in Scotland. Plant Pathology. doi: 10.1111/ppa.12455Pritchard, L., Glover, R.H., Humphris, S., Elphinstone, J.G. and Toth, I.K. 2016. Genomics and taxonomy in diagnostics for food security: soft-rotting enterobacterial plant pathogens. Analytical Methods 8:12-24.

Events past and future

John attends annual meetings of the EPPO panel on diagnosis of plant pathogenic bacteria and the European Association of Phytobacteriologists.

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John and their team work with customers to deliver the following services within Fera...

John works across teams involved in the diagnosis of bacterial plant diseases, the development and validation of diagnostic methods, disease epidemiology and control and the taxonomy of emerging and established bacterial plant pathogens.

Insect Monitoring

Providing you with the information you need to make pest control decisions.

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Soil Health Unit

Health tests, organism monitoring and metal detection for your soil, amongst other services

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Grower support tools

Cutting edge software to help growers optimise their crop yield and health

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All Crop Health Services

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