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Professor Philip C Stevenson

Professor of Plant Chemistry and Head of Chemical Ecology and Plant Biochemistry Group
BSc., PhD., FRES.
Natural Resources Institute

Biography

Professor Phil Stevenson is Professor of Plant Chemistry at the University of Greenwich and has worked at the University since its merger with the Natural Resources Institute in 1996. He also held a position with NRI for his post-doctoral work between 1992 and 1995 and throughout this period was employed on a joint basis with the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; an arrangement that continues today.

Professor Stevenson obtained his BSc studying Applied Biology at Brunel University in 1988 and was awarded a PhD on Resistance Mechanisms in Arachis spp. to the Tobacco armyworm Spodoptera litura from the University of London in 1992 before carrying out his post-doctoral work on resistance mechanisms in Chickpea (Cicer spp.) to the fungal pathogens Botrytis grey mould and Fusarium wilt.

His research has focussed on the biological and ecological role of plant chemicals for applications to different agricultural development problems. These included studying natural resistance in crops to pests, using pesticidal plants (botanical insecticides) as benign and affordable alternatives to synthetic insecticides and research on pollen and nectar chemistry to determine their role in pollinator behaviour and ecology. Phil is the principle investigator or co-PI on several research grants and consultancies with a total value of £4 million won through competitive bids to programmes including: DFID, BBSRC, DEFRA, McKnight Foundation, European Union (African Caribbean and Pacific Science and Technology programmes), United States Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation (USA). Other smaller grants have been won competitively through the Science Foundation of Ireland, Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Millennium Science Foundation (Uganda) and DFID's competitive research facility. The projects have funded research activities, training and capacity building activities and agricultural development. This research has been published in 100 international journal articles, books and books chapters including recent papers in Science, PLoS One, and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

His international scientific role is represented through positions on the editorial boards of journals including Subject Editor at the Bulletin of Entomological Research, Regional Editor of Biopesticides International and the Editorial board of Crop Protection. He has chaired Organising Committees and been invited to provide key note lectures at International conferences and is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society.

Research/Scholarly Interests

My research interests lie in the opportunities to exploit plant chemicals to improve and enhance agriculture and agroecosystems in environmentally benign ways. These include understanding the chemical basis of resistance mechanisms in crops to insects and diseases and exploiting natural insecticidal compounds in plants that can replace synthetic and ecological damaging pesticides for small holder farmers in developing countries – e.g. botanical insecticides and pesticidal plants.

I am increasingly interested in the role plant chemicals play in the interactions between plants and insects – particularly pollinators. This work has a huge potential impact in understanding more about the role of natural products in bee food that might influence pollinator susceptibility to major constraints such as pathogens and parasites and also learning more about about how nutritional homeostasis in bees influences their ability to respond to or cope with pesticides.

My inaugural lecture was on the topic of 'Sex and Drugs and Pest Control: The Ecology and Application of Plant Chemistry' and was given on Wednesday, 11 June 2014.
The lecture can be viewed at http://youtu.be/5vrqaJpkjkw

Current and Previous Funded Research Projects

Optimising Pesticidal Plants

Technology Innovation, Outreach and Networks (OPTIONs) project is a project (Value Euros 1,000K) funded by the European Union Africa Caribbean and Pacific Groups of States Science and technology Programme to research ways to optimise the improved use and uptake of pesticidal plants as pest management alternatives for small holder farmers in sub Saharan Africa. The project will develop strategies to increase accessibility to plant materials through propagation and elite provenance selection based on chemical analysis and biological study to ensure that promotion of the technology is sustainable, reliable and effective.

Bee medicine

This project is in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts and Dartmouth College in USA and aims to determine how plant chemical sin the nectar and pollen of agricultural crops influence pollinators ability to cope with diseases including Nosema and Crithidia. This project will work closely alongside a National Science Foundation grant won by Phil at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew with the same partners and together will determine which flowering species impact positively or negatively on bees and potentially alleviate or exacerbate pollinator declines and colony collapses. The overall premise is that plant chemical could provide protection against disease or where toxic could weaken pollinators and make them more susceptible to the effects of diseases.

Future areas of research will probably focus more on the pollinators as the potential global impact of this work is huge in terms of enhancing pollinator health and providing important impacts at landscape levels. Stevenson's recent research published in Science and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment indicate the height of interest in this area of research.

Responsibilities within the University

  • Lead research on plant chemistry and chemical ecology associated with environmentally benign pest management and ecosystem enhancement to improve food security in agriculture.
  • I am responsible for the development and leadership of international research projects to provide effective, appropriate and environmentally benign agricultural technologies for poor rural families in tropical Africa and Asia to improve crop yields and enhance livelihoods. Target crops include rice, maize, cowpea, beans, chickpea, pigeon pea, groundnuts (peanuts) and sweetpotato for which I have studied natural resistance to insect pests and diseases or the use of pesticidal plants as pest control alternatives with the aim of reducing the reliance on pesticides.
  • Technical skills include most chromatography techniques for analytical and preparative plant chemistry, mass spectrometry and interpretation of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometry data for structural determination of novel chemicals from plants. I am also involved in bioassay design and development to evaluate biological activity of plant chemicals against plant diseases and insects pests and determine any potential agricultural application in both laboratory and field.

Selected Publications

Recent Conference Presentations

  • Stevenson, P.C., Nyirenda, S.P., Kamanula, J.F. & Belmain, S.R.. Phytochemical variation: a limiting factor in pesticidal plant applications in small holder farms in Africa. XXIV International Congress of Entomology, Daegu. South Korea, August 25-30August 2012, Plenary talk.
  • Arnold, S.E.J., Stevenson P.C., Belmain S.R. (2012). Intraspecific variation in responses to plant-derived odours in Callosobruchus maculatus: effects of age, sex and morph. XXIV International Congress of Entomology, Daegu. South Korea, August 25-30August 2012,
  • Stevenson P.C., 2011. Variable Chemistry in Tephrosia vogelii chemistry determines its efficacy in pest management for small scale farmers in Africa. Semio 11. A workshop on chemical ecology and multi-level pest management. . ICIPE, Nairobi, Kenya, 13-15 November 2011.
  • Wright, G.A., Baker, D., Mustard, J.A., Borland, A.M., Stevenson, P.C. 2011. Caffeine in floral nectar improves olfactory memory retention in honeybees. (Abstract). Symposium on Chemical Ecology: Reception, Detection and Deception. Royal Entomological Society National Science Meeting. University of Greenwich, Medway Campus, 7-9 September 2011. p. 37.
  • Stout, J., Tiedeken, E.J., Egan, P. Brown, M., Stevenson P.C., Wright, G.A. 2011. Toxic nectar and pollen in invasive Rhododendron ponticum: what are the impacts on pollinator communities? (Abstract). Symposium on Chemical Ecology: Reception, Detection and Deception. Royal Entomological Society National Science Meeting. University of Greenwich, Medway Campus, 7-9 September 2011. p. 36.
  • Stevenson, P.C., Nyirenda, S.P., Kamanula, J.F., Sileshi, G., Veitch, N.C., Belmain, S.R. 2011. Tephrosia vogelii has highly variable chemistry and pesticidal efficiacy against Callosobruchus maculatus. 2011. (Abstract). Symposium on Chemical Ecology: Reception, Detection and Deception. Royal Entomological Society National Science Meeting. University of Greenwich, Medway Campus, 7-9 September 2011. p. 31.
  • Arnold, S.E.J., Stevenson P.C., Belmain, S.R. 2011. Repellence of African plants and their effects on the host location behaviour of stored products beetles. (Abstract). Symposium on Chemical Ecology: Reception, Detection and Deception. Royal Entomological Society National Science Meeting. University of Greenwich, Medway Campus, 7-9 September 2011. p. 30.
  • Stevenson P.C. 3rd Biopesticides Conference, Hisar, India. 20-22 October 2010.
  • Kamanula et al., 2010 Mr John Kamanula presented a poster entitled Chemical composition and pesticidal properties of Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) against Larger Grain Borer (Prostephanus truncatus) at the 11th International Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Africa (ICCA) in Luxor, Egypt from 20-23 November 2010.
  • Chikukura, L., Mvumi B.M., Belmain S.R., Kamanula J.F., Sileshi G, Nyirenda, S. P. M, Stevenson P.C. 2010. Laboratory evaluation of indigenous pesticidal plants as grain protectants for resource poor farmers. Symposium on economically useful plants of Southern Africa. Protea Hotel, Cairo Road, Lusaka, Zambia, 21-23 June, 2010.
  • Muzemu, S., Mvumi B.M, Belmain S.R., Kamanula J.F., Sileshi G , Nyirenda, S. P., Stevenson P.C. 2010. Pesticidal effects of crude aqueous extracts of Lippia javanica and Solanum delagoense against aphids and red spider mites. Symposium on economically useful plants of Southern Africa. Protea Hotel, Cairo Road, Lusaka, Zambia, 21-23 June, 2010
  • Stevenson, P.C., Belmain, S.R., Sola, P., Kamanula, J.F., Veitch N.C. Bisdesmosidic saponins from Securidaca longepedunculata roots: evaluation of deterrency and toxicity to coleopteran storage pests. Symposium on economically useful plants of Southern Africa. Protea Hotel, Cairo Road, Lusaka, Zambia, 21-23 June, 2010.
  • Stevenson, P.C., Muyinza, et al; 13th International Society of Tropical Root Crops. Lima, Peru November 2nd-6th 2009.
  • Stevenson P.C., Thamara K. Dayarathna, Steven R. Belmain, Phosiso Sola and Nigel C. Veitch. 2009. Bisdesmosidic saponins from Securidaca longepedunculata roots: Evaluation of deterrency and toxicity to Coleopteran storage pests. 8th Phytochemical Society of Europe meeting on Biopesticides, La Palma, Canary Is., Spain. 21-26th September 2009. (Abstract)
  • Stevenson, P. C. Belmain, S. R., Stephen P. Nyirenda, Phosiso Sola, Brighton M. Mvumi, Gudeta Sileshi, John Kamanula and Monique S.J. Simmonds. Optimising sustainable use of pesticidal plants by subsistence farmers in southern Africa. 8th Phytochemical Society of Europe meeting on Biopesticides, La Palma, Cananry Is., Spain. 21-26th September 2009. (Abstract)
  • Muyinza, Harriet, Stevenson, Philip C., Talwana, Herbert, Hall, David R., Farman, Dudley I. and Mwanga, Robert O.M. (2009) Root chemicals could offer opportunities for breeding for sweet potato resistance to the weevil cylas puncticollis boheman (coleoptera: apionidae). In: Aspects of African Biodiversity. Proceedings of the Pan Africa Chemistry Network Biodiversity Conference, Nairobi, 10-12 September 2008. Royal Society of Chemistry, UK, pp. 49-57. ISBN 9781847559487 (Print) 9781847559647 (online) (Submitted) (doi:10.1039/9781847559647)
  • Belmain, S.R., Stevenson, P.C., Simmonds, M.S.J., Mvumi, B.V., Sileshi, G.S., Sola, P., Nyirenda, S.P. and Kamanula, J. (2008) Can botanical pesticides be used safely and reliably in stored product protection? XIII International Congress of Entomology, 6-12th July, Durban, South Africa.
  • Muyinza H., Stevenson, P.C., Talwana H., Hall,. D.R., Farman, D.I., Mwanga, R.O.M., A Chemical Basis for Resistance in Sweet Potato to the Sweet Potato Weevil Cylas puncticollis. CHEMRAWN XII. CHEMRAWN XII - Chemistry, Sustainable Agriculture and Human Well Being in Sub-Saharan Africa; 2-5 Dec 2007, Stellenbosch, South Africa. (Oral presentation).
  • Kamanula, J.K., Masamba, W.R.L, Henry, E. Nyirenda, G.K.C. and Stevenson, P.C., Insecticidal properties of citronella (cymbopogon nardus) essential oil against larger grain borer (prostephanus truncatus). CHEMRAWN XII. CHEMRAWN XII - Chemistry, Sustainable Agriculture and Human Well Being in Sub-Saharan Africa; 2-5 Dec 2007, Stellenbosch, South Africa, (poster).
  • Pande S., R. K. Neupane, M. A. Bakr, P. Stevenson, J. N. Rao, Bill Macleod, K. H. M. Siddique, G. K. Kishore, R. N. Chaudhary And S. Joshi (2005) Rehabilitation Of Chickpea In Nepal And Bangladesh Through Integrated Management Of Botrytis Grey Mould. Innovations for sustainable plant health: 15th Biennial Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference. 26th-30th September 2005, Geelong, Victoria, Australia (poster).

Books

  • Stevenson, Philip C., Nyirenda, Stephen P., Mvumi, Brighton, Sola, Phosiso, Kamanula, John M., Sileshi, Gudeta and Belmain, Steven R. (2012) Pesticidal plants: a viable alternative insect pest management approach for resource-poor farming in Africa. In: Biopesticides in Environment and Food Security: Issues and Strategies. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, India , pp. 212-238. ISBN 9788172337971
  • Pande, S., Rao, J.N., Sharma, M., Pathak, M. and Stevenson, P. (2010) Mass-screening techniques for the early selection of disease resistance in chickpea (Cicer arietinum). In: Mass Screening Techniques for Selecting Crops Resistant to Diseases. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, Austria, pp. 201-234. ISBN 978-92-0-105110-3
  • Yadav, Shyam S., McNeil, David L. and Stevenson, Philip C. (Eds.) (2007) The lentil: an ancient crop for modern times. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. ISBN 978-1-4020-6312-1 (Print), 978-1-4020-6313-8 (Online)
  • Yadav, Shyam S., Stevenson, Philip C., Rizvi, A.H., Manohar, M., Gailing, S. and Mateljan, G. (2007) Uses and consumption. In: The Lentil: An Ancient Crop for Modern Times. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 33-46. ISBN 978-1-4020-6312-1 (Print) 978-1-4020-6313-8 (Online) (doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6313-8 (10.1007/978-1-4020-6313-8_4 for chapter))
  • Stevenson, Philip C., Dhillon, M.K., Sharma, H.C. and El Bouhssini, Mustapha (2007) Insect pests of lentil and their management. In: The Lentil: An Ancient Crop for Modern Times. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 331-348. ISBN 978-1-4020-6312-1 (Print) 978-1-4020-6313-8 (Online) (doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6313-8 (10.1007/978-1-4020-6313-8_20 for chapter))
  • Sharma, H.C., Gowda, C.L.L., Stevenson, Philip C., Ridsdill-Smith, T.J., Clement, S.L., Ranga Rao, G.V., Romies, Joerg, Miles, Melina and Bouhssini, M. (2007) Host plant resistance and insect pest management in chickpea. In: Chickpea Breeding and Management. CAB International , Wallingford, UK, pp. 520-537. ISBN 9781845932138
  • Stevenson, Philip C., Grzywacz, David, Pande, Suresh, Rao, Narayana, Neupane, Ram Krishna, Chaudhary, Ram N. and Bourai, Vinay A. (2006) Promoting the adoption of improved ICM technologies in chickpea by poor farmers in Nepal. In: Perspectives on pests II: achievements of research under UK Department for International Development Crop Protection Programme 2000–05. Natural Resources International Ltd., Aylesford, UK, pp. 152-154. ISBN 0954645278
  • Stevenson P.C. and Aslam, S.N. (2006) The Chemistry of the Genus Cicer L. in Atta-ur-Rahman (Editor): Studies in Natural Products Chemistry Vol. 33. Bioactive Natural Products (Part M). Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2006, pp.905-956. ISBN 0-444-52717-6.
  • Stevenson PC, Pande S, Pound B and Neupane RK. 2005. A strategy for wealth generation through chickpea production. Information Bulletin No. 70. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics 24 pp. ISBN 92-9066-482-7.
  • Pande, S., PC Stevenson, RK Neupane and D Grzywacz (eds.). 2005. Policy and strategy for increasing income and food security through improved crop management of chickpea in rice fallows in Asia. Summary of a NARC-ICRISAT-NRI Workshop, 17-18 November 2004, Kathmandu, Nepal. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. 252 pp. ISBN 92-9066-479-7.
  • Bourai,V., Pande, S., Neupane, R.K., Stevenson, P.C., 2005. Farmer's empowerment, soil enrichment and wealth generation through chickpea IPM in Nepal. In Policy and strategy for increasing income and food security through improved crop management of chickpea in rice fallows in Asia. Summary of a NARC-ICRISAT-NRI Workshop, 17-18 November 2004, Kathmandu, Nepal. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. 252 pp. ISBN 92-9066-479-7.
  • Stevenson, P.C., Pande, S. and Pound, B. 2005 Countrywide extension of Integrated Crop Management of Chickpea in Nepal: Lessons learned and future approaches. Pp 206-217, In, Policy and strategy for increasing income and food security through improved crop management of chickpea in rice fallows in Asia. Summary of a NARC-ICRISAT-NRI Workshop, 17-18 November 2004, Kathmandu, Nepal. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. 252 pp. ISBN 92-9066-479-7.
  • Pande, S., R.K. Neupane, P.C. Stevenson, D. Grazywacz, V.A. Bourai, J. N. Rao, and G. K. Kishore (2005) Integrated Crop Management of Chickpea in Nepal: Past, Present and Future. In Policy and strategy for increasing income and food security through improved crop management of chickpea in rice fallows in Asia. Summary of a NARC-ICRISAT-NRI Workshop, 17-18 November 2004, Kathmandu, Nepal. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. 252 pp. ISBN 92-9066-479-7.
  • Stevenson, P.C., S. Pande, R.K. Neupane, C.N. Chaudary, V.A. Bourai, J. Narayana Rao & D. Grzywacz. (2005) The adoption of Integrated Crop Management Technologies for Chickpea by Poor Farmers in Nepal. pp. 135-142. In Policy and strategy for increasing income and food security through improved crop management of chickpea in rice fallows in Asia. Summary of a NARC-ICRISAT-NRI Workshop, 17-18 November 2004, Kathmandu, Nepal. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. 252 pp. ISBN 92-9066-479-7.
  • Sharma, H.C., Stevenson, P.C., and Gowda C.L.L. 2005. Heliothis/Helicoverpa management: emerging trends and prospects for future research. Pages 453-462 in Heliothis/Helicoverpa Management: Emerging Trends and Strategies for Future Research (Sharma, H.C., ed.). New Delhi, India: Oxford and IBH Publishers.
  • Stevenson, P.C., Green, P.W.C., Simmonds, M.S.J., and Sharma, H.C. 2005. Physical and chemical mechanisms of plant resistance to Helicoverpa armigera: Recent research on chickpea and pigeonpea. Pages 209-222 in Heliothis/Helicoverpa Management: Emerging Trends and Strategies for Future Research (Sharma, H.C., ed.). New Delhi, India: Oxford and IBH Publishers.
  • Pande, S, Bourai, VA, Stevenson, P.C. and Neupane RK (2003) Empowerment through enrichment. IPM of chickpea in Nepal 2. Information Bulletin No 65 Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, 28pp ISBN 92-9066-463-0.
  • Pande, S., Johansen, C., Stevenson, P.C., and Grzywacz, D. (eds.) 2001. On-farm IPM of chickpea in Nepal: proceedings of the International Workshop on Planning and Implementation of On-farm IPM of Chickpea in Nepal, 6-7 September 2000, Kathmandu, Nepal. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics; and Chatham, Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, UK: Natural Resources Institute. 133 pp. ISBN 92-9066-438-X.http://www.icrisat.org/web/uploads/presentations/09032003121556CPE134.pdf

External Recognition

  • Subject Editor, Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • Regional Editor, Biopesticides International
  • Editorial Board, Crop Protection.

Contact Information

Professor Philip C Stevenson

Natural Resources Institute

University of Greenwich

Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.

Tel: +44 (0)1634 883212

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