Professor Mahmut Tör


Chair of Molecular Plant and Microbial Biology

Molecular Plant and Microbial Biosciences Research Unit

Contact Details

tel: 01905 5422360

Professor Tör leads the Molecular Plant and Microbial Biosciences Research Unit and mentors MRes students, PhD students, post-docs, and visiting researchers.  His teaching has been strongly influenced by his research activities in molecular plant-microbe interactions, promoting and embedding research-led teaching. 

Leader of the Molecular Plant and Microbial Biosciences Research Unit

Education and qualifications

  • 1991: Ph.D. Plant Biotechnology, University of London, UK
  • 1987: MSc, Applied Plant Sciences, University of London, UK
  • 1984: BSc Plant Protection, Çukurova University, Turkey

Career Summary

  • 2014-Present            Professor, University of Worcester, UK
  • 2010-2014                Senior Lecturer, University of Worcester, UK
  • 2003-2010                Research Leader, Warwick HRI, University of Warwick, UK
  • 1997-2003                Research Fellow, Horticultural Research International, UK
  • 1994-1997                Assistant Professor, University of Akdeniz, Turkey
  • 1991-1994                Research Fellow, University of London, UK


Professor Tör has been working on the genetics and molecular biology of plant-pathogen interactions for over 25 years. He has worked on plant-oomycete interactions and made significant contributions to the mapping and cloning of several disease resistance and signalling genes in plants and effector genes in pathogens. He has also used his experience of molecular genetics in the cloning of fruit ripening genes such as CNR1 from tomato. He developed a research interest in innate immunity and explored this field with a cross section of scientists working on animal and human innate immunity.

Professor Tör joined the University of Worcester in 2010 and has continued to work on plant-pathogen interactions. Over the years, he has obtained funding from BBSRC, DEFRA, The Leverhulme Trust, ERA-NET, British Council and TUBITAK. He has mentored over 75 researchers, including post-docs, PhD students and visiting scientists.  

His current research interests are in the field of food security that include fundamental and translational research aspects. 

Professor Tör is also a member of the Sustainable Environments Research GroupSustainable Environments Research Group

Current Research Projects:

Pulse-Downy Mildew Pathosystem: deploying disease resistance, pathogenomics and microbial biocontrol, BBSRC-LINK, 2020-2023. In Collaboration with NIAB, JIC, LSPB, Birds Eye, Syngenta, Elsoms, KWS, Limagrain, Senova, and Storm Seeds, Velcourt, PULSES-UK, IAR-AGRI, PGRO and AHDB. 

Food Microbiome Analysis by Using Next Generation Sequencing, TUBITAK, 2021-2022.

Development of Non-Transgenic Cucumber Lines Resistant to Powdery Mildew (Sphaerotheca fuliginea) Using CRISPR/Cas9 System, TUBITAK, 2021-2022

Generating molecular markers linked to CVYV resistance in cucumber, MY Genetic, 2019-2021.

Key research areas include:

  • The role of circadian regulation in pathogenicity
  • Biological control of fungal pathogens
  • The role of small RNA in plant-microbe interactions
  • Genome editing for generating disease resistant plants
  • Use of genomics to accelerate plant breeding  

Current PhD studies

Pengcheng Zhang: Intracellular RNA signalling in RNAi and its role in antiviral defence (Director of studies)

Gizem Ünal: Identification of gene targets that are involved in pathogenicity to control plant diseases by using the sRNA approach.

PhD project ideas

Role of small RNAs in Arabidopsis-downy mildew interaction
Smart biologics


Telli, O., Jimenez-Guiros, C., McDowell, J and Tör, M (2020) Effect of light and darkness on the growth and development of downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. Plant Pathology 2020; 69: 1291-1300

Yuan, C.,Li, H.,Chen, Q., Xu, X., Zhang, X., Jin, Z., He, M., Shi, N., Xue, D., Wang, H., Jackson, S., He, Y., Tör, M., Liu, Y., Qin, C. and Hong, Y. (2020) ⁠ A Foxtail Mosaic Virus-induced Flowering (FoMViF) Assay in Monocotyledonous Crops. Journal of Experimental Botany 71: 3012–3023

Lai,T., Wang, X., Ye, B., Jin, M., Chen, W., Wang, Y., Zhou, Y., Blanks, A., Gu, M., Zhang, P., Li, C., Wang, W., Liu, Y., Gallusci,P., Tör, M. and Hong, Y. (2020) Characterization of LeSPL-CNR and its functional relevance to cell death and fruit ripening in tomato. Journal of Experimental Botany.

Zhang, X., Kang, L., Zhang, Q., Meng, Q., Pan, Y., Yu, Z., Shi, N., Jackson, S., Zhang, X., Wang, H., Tör, M. and Hong, Y. (2020) An RNAi suppressor activates in planta virus-mediated gene editing. Functional and Integrative Genomics. 20: 471-477 DOI: 10.1007/s10142-019-00730-y.

Bilir, Ö., Telli, O. Norman, C., Budak, H., Hong, Y. and Tör, M. (2019) Small RNA inhibits infection by downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. MPP 20:1523-1534. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12863.

Zhang, X., Laia, T.,Zhanga, P., Zhangb, X., Yuana, C., Jina, Z.,Lia, H., Yua, Z., Qina, C., Tör, M., Mab, P., Cheng, Q., Hong, Y. (2019) Mini review: Revisiting mobile RNA silencing in plants. Plant Science 278: 113-117. 10.1016/j.plantsci.2018.10.025.

Devran, Z., Kahveci, E., Hong, Y., Studholme, D. J. and Tör, M. (2018) Identifying molecular markers suitable for Frl selection in tomato breeding. Theor Appl Genet. 10.1007/s00122-018-3136-0

Woods-Tör A, Studholme DJ, Cevik V, Telli O, Holub EB and Tör M (2018) A Suppressor/Avirulence Gene Combination in Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis Determines Race Speci?city in Arabidopsis thaliana. Front. Plant Sci. 9:265. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00265

Chen, W., Yu, Z., Wang, H., Wu, C., Kong, J., Wang, Z., Zhen,Q., Shi, N., Zhang, P., Zhong, S., Hunter, P., Manning, K., Tör, M. and Hong, Y. (2018) Comparative WGBS identifies genes that influence non-ripe phenotype in tomato epimutant Colourless non-ripening. Sci. China Life Sci. 61: 244-252

Lai, T, Jin, M, Wang,X, Chen, W, Wang, Y., Zhou, Y., Ye, B., Blanks, A. M., Gu, M., P., Zhang, Li, C., Osman, T., Wang, H., Liu, Y., Tör, M. and Hong, Y. (2017) Nucleus-localized zinc-binding LeSPL-CNR interacts with SlSnRK1 to control tomato fruit ripening. Submitted to Plant Journal

Qin C, Li B, Fan Y, Zhang X, Yu Z, Ryabov E, Zhao M, Wang H, Shi N, Zhang P, Jackson S, Tör, M. Cheng Q, Liu Y, Gallusci P, Hong Y (2017) Roles of Dicer-Like proteins 2 and 4 in Intra- and Intercellular Antiviral Silencing. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.00475

Tör, M., Woods-Tör, A. (2017) Fungal and Oomycete Diseases. In Brian Thomas, Brian G Murray and Denis J Murphy (Editors in Chief), Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Sciences, Vol 3, Waltham, MA: Academic Press, pp. 77–82

Tör, M., Woods-Tör, A. (2017) Genetic Modi?cation of Disease Resistance: Fungal and Oomycete Pathogens. In Brian Thomas, Brian G Murray and Denis J Murphy (Editors in Chief), Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Sciences, Vol 3, Waltham, MA: Academic Press, pp. 83–87

Heil M, Land WG and Tör, M. (2016) Editorial: Wound Recognition across the Tree of Life. Front. Plant Sci. 7:1319. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01319

Calis, O., Cekic, C., Soylu, S. and Tör, M. (2015) Identification of new resistance sources from diploid wild strawberry against powdery mildew pathogen. Pak. J. Agri. Sci. 52: 677-683

Andersson, M. X., Nilsson, A. K., Johansson, O., Adolfsson, L. E., Pinosa, F., Petit, C. G., Boztas, G., Aronsson, H., Mackey, D., Tör, M.Hamberg, M. and Ellerström, M. (2015) The isothiocyanate sulforaphane acts as a signalling molecule in Arabidopsis local defense responses. Plant Physiology 167: 251-261

Devran, Z., Kahveci, E., Özkaynak, E., Studholme, D. and Tör, M. (2015) Development of molecular markers tightly linked to PVR4 in pepper using next generation sequencing. Molecular Breeding 35: DOI: 10.1007/s11032-015-0294-5

Kamoun S, Furzer O, Jones JD, Judelson HS, Ali GS, Dalio RJ, Roy SG, Schena L, Zambounis A, Panabières F, Cahill D, Ruocco M, Figueiredo A, Chen XR, Hulvey J, Stam R, Lamour K, Gijzen M, Tyler BM, Grünwald NJ, Mukhtar MS, Tomé DF, Tör M. Van den Ackerveken G, McDowell J, Daayf F, Fry WE, Lindqvist-Kreuze H, Meijer HJ, Petre B, Ristaino J, Yoshida K, Birch PR, Govers F. (2015) The Top 10 oomycete pathogens in molecular plant pathology.  Mol Plant Pathol. 16: 413-434

Johansson, O. N., Fantozzi, E., Fahlberg, P., Nilsson, A. K., Buhot, N., Tör, M. and Andersson, M. X. (2014) Role of the penetration resistance genes PEN1, PEN2 and PEN3 in the hypersensitive response and race specific resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana.  Plant Journal 79: 466–476

Baysal, Ö and Tör, M. (2014) Smart biologics for crop protection in agricultural systems. Turk J Agric For. 38: 723-731.  DOI: 10.3906/tar-1309-26

Zhang. W., Fraiture, M., Kolb, D., Löffelhardt, B., Desaki, Y., Boutrot, F. F., Tör, M. Zipfel,, C, Gust, A. A. and Brunner, F. (2013) Arabidopsis RECEPTOR-LIKE PROTEIN30 and Receptor-Like Kinase SUPPRESSOR OF BIR1-1/EVERSHED Mediate Innate Immunity to Necrotrophic Fungi. Plant Cell 25: 4227-41.

Baysal, O., Lai, D., Xu, H-H., Siragusa, M., Çaliskan, M., Carimi, F., da Silva J. A. T. and Tör, M. (2013) A proteomic approach provides new insights into the control of soil-borne plant pathogens by Bacillus species. PLoS ONE 8: e53182. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053182

Rouxa, M., Schwessinger, B., Albrecht, C., Chinchilla, D., Jones, A., Holton, N., Malinovsky, F. G., Tör, M. de Vries., S. and Zipfel, C.  (2011) The Arabidopsis leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases BAK1/SERK3 and BKK1/SERK4 cooperate to regulate innate immunity. Plant Cell 23: 2440-55

Bailey, K., Çevik, V., Holton, N., Byrne-Richardson, J., Sohn, K., Coates. M., Woods-Tör, A., Hughes, L., Baxter, L., Jones, J. D. G., Beynon, J., Holub, E. B and Tör, M. (2011) Molecular Cloning of ATR5Emoy2 From Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis, an Avirulence Determinant That Triggers RPP5-mediated Defense in Arabidopsis. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. 24: 827–838

Barnaby, J. Y., Wang, W., Tada, Y., Li, H., Tör, M. Caldelari-Guex, D., Lee, D., Fu, X-D.,  and Dong, X. (2011) Timing Plant Immune Responses by a Central Circadian Regulator.  Nature 470: 110-114

Devran, Z., Firat, A., Tör, M. Mutlu, N., Elekçioglu, I. H. (2011) AFLP and SRAP markers linked to the mj gene for root-knot nematode resistance in cucumber.  Sci. Agric. .68: 115-119

Çakir, C and Tör, M. (2010) Factors influencing BSMV-mediated gene silencing in wheat.  Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology 74:246-253

Tör, M. Lotze, M. T. and Holton, N. (2009) Receptor mediated signalling in plants: molecular patterns and programmes. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 3645 - 3654

Bastas, K. K., Hekimhan, H., Maden, S. and  Tör, M. (2009) First Report of Bacterial Stalk and Head Rot Disease Caused by Pectobacterium atrosepticum on Sunflower in Turkey.  Plant Disease 93: 1352

Devran, Z., Sögüt, M. A., Gözel, U., Tör, M. and Elekçioglu, I. H. (2008) Analysis of genetic variation between populations of Meloidogyne spp.  Russian Journal of Nematology 16: 143-149

Wang, G., Ellendorff, U., Kemp, B., Mansfield, J. W., Forsyth, A., Mitchell, K., Bastas, K., Liu, C., Zipfel, C., Woods-Tör, A., M. de Wit, P. J. G., Jones, J. D. G., Tör, M. and Thomma, B. P. H. J. (2008) A genome-wide functional investigation into the roles of receptor-like proteins in Arabidopsis.  Plant Physiology 147:503-17

Borhan, M. H., Gunn, N., Cooper, A., Gulden, S., Rozwadowski, K., Tör, M. Rimmer, S. R. and Holub, E. B. (2008) WRR, a TIR-NB-LRR gene in Arabidopsis thaliana, confers resistance to four races of Albugo candida (white rust) collected from other crucifer hosts.  Molecular Plant microbe Interactions 21:757–768

Tör, M. (2008) Tapping into molecular conversation between oomycete pathogens and their host plants. European Journal of Plant Pathology. 122: 57-69

Lotze, M.T, Zeh, H.J., Rubartelli, A., Sparvero, L.J., Amoscato, A.A., Washburn, N.R., Devera, M.E., Liang, X., Tör, M. and Billiar, T. (2007) The grateful dead: damage-associated molecular pattern molecules and reduction/oxidation regulate immunity. Immunological Reviews 220: 60 – 81

Eulgem, T., Wang, X., Tsuchiya, T., Beasley, B., Tör, M., Zhu, T., McDowell, J., Holub, E. and Dangl, J. L. (2007) EDM2 is a novel component of RPP7-dependent disease resistance in Arabidopsis that controls RPP7 transcript levels.  Plant Journal 49: 829-839

Bayraktar, H., Dolar, F. S. and Tör, M. (2007) Determination of genetic diversity within Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.) Lab4r., the cause of Ascochyta blight of chickpea in Turkey.  Journal of Plant Pathology 89: 341 – 347

Manning, K., Tör, M., Poole, M., Hong, Y., Thompson, A., King, G., Giovannoni, J. and Seymour, G. B. (2006) A naturally occurring epigenetic mutation in an SBP-box transcription factor inhibits tomato fruit ripening.  Nature Genetics 38: 948-952

Fritz-Laylin, L. K., Krishnamurthy, N., Tör, M., Sjölander, K. V. and Jones, J. D. G. (2005) Phylogenomic analysis of the receptor-like proteins of rice and Arabidopsis reveals four major super-clades of resistance proteins and new candidate developmental genes.  Plant Physiology 138: 611-623 

Sinapidou, E., Williams, K., Nott, L., Bahkt, S., Tör, M., Bittner-Eddy, P. and Beynon, J. (2004) Two TIR:NB:LRR genes  are required to specify resistance to Peronospora parasitica isolate Cala2 in Arabidopsis.  Plant Journal 38: 898-909

Tör, M., Yemm, A. and Holub, E. (2003). Role of proteolysis in R-gene mediated defence in plants.  Molecular Plant Pathology 4, 287-296 

Tör, M., Gordon, P., Cuzick, A., Eulgem, T., Sinapidou, E., Mert, F., Can, C., Dangl, J. L. and Holub, E. B. (2002) Arabidopsis SGT1b is required for defence signalling conferred by several downy mildew (Peronospora parasitica) resistance genes. Plant Cell 14: 993-1003 

Tör, M., Manning, K., King G. J., Thompson, A. J., Jones, G. H., Seymour, G. B. and Armstrong, S. J. (2002).  FISH mapping on meiotic pachytene chromosomes of tomato localises the Cnr gene to the euchromatin on the long arm of chromosome 2.  Theoretical Applied Genetics 104: 165-170 

Rehmany, A. P., Lynn, J. R., Tör, M., Holub, E. B. and Beynon, J. (2000).  A comparison of Peronospora parasitica (Downy Mildew) isolates from Arabidopsis thaliana and Brassica oleracea using amplified fragment length polymorphism and internal transcribe spacer I sequence analyses.  Fungal Genetics and Biology 30: 95-103 

Thompson, A. J., Tör, M., Barry, C. S., Vrebalov, J., Orfila, C., Jarvis, M. C., Giovannoni, J.J., Grierson, D. and Seymour, G. (1999) Molecular and genetic characterization of a novel pleiotropic tomato ripening mutant.  Plant Physiology 120: 383-389

Bittner-Eddy, P., Can, C., Gunn, N., Pinel, M., Tör, M., Crute, I., Holub, E. B. and Beynon, J. (1999).  Genetic and physical mapping of the RPP13 locus, in Arabidopsis, responsible for specific recognition of several Peronospora parasitica (downy mildew) isolates. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 12: 792-802 

Tör, M (1998).  Recent developments in molecular plant-microbe interactions.  Turkish Journal of Biology 22: 271-285

Tör M., Twyford, C.T., Funes, I., Boccon-Gibod, J., Ainsworth, C.C. and Mantell, S.H. (1998) Isolation and culture of protoplasts from immature leaves and embryogenic cell suspensions of Dioscorea yams: tools for transient gene expression studies.  Plant Cell Tissue And Organ Culture 53: 113-125

Kayim, M. Koç, N. K. and Tör, M. (1996) Gene transfer into citrus (Citrus limon L.) nucellar cells by particle bombardment and expression of GUS activity.  Tr. J. Agriculture and Forestry 20: 349-352

Holub, E. B., Brose, E., Tör, M., Clay, C., Crute, I. R. and Beynon, J. L. (1995). Phenotypic and genotypic variation in the interaction between Arabidopsis thaliana and Albugo candida.  Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 8: 916-928

Tör, M., Holub, E. B., Brose, E., Musker, R., Gunn, N., Can, C., Crute, I. R. and Beynon, J. L. (1994). Map positions of three loci in Arabidopsis thaliana associated with isolate-specific recognition of Peronospora parasitica (downy mildew).  Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 7: 214-222

Tör, M. Ainsworth, C. and Mantell, S. H (1993).  Stable transformation of the food yam Dioscorea alata L. by particle bombardment. Plant Cell Reports 12: 468-473

Tör, M., Mantell, S. H. and Ainsworth, C. C. (1992).  Endophytic bacteria expressing b-glucuronidase cause false positives in transformation of Dioscorea species. Plant Cell Reports 11: 452-456 

Internal and External Roles


Member of the School of Science & the Environment's “Health and Safety Committee"      
Chair of the “Genetic Modification Safety Committee” within the School       
University “REF UoA5 Coordinator”.   
Member of the University’s “REF strategic Management Committee”.      
Member of the University’s “Academic Integrity Committee”.       
Member of the University’s “SRES Selection Panel”.


2020-Present       Core Member of BBSRC Grant Committee
2017-Present       BSPP (British Society for Plant Pathology) Treasurer
2016-Present       Pool Member of BBSRC Grant Committee      
British Council Newton Fund Reviewer       
Associate Editor, Frontiers in Plant–Microbe Interactions      
Editorial Board member of Journal of Environment and Agricultural Studies