Dr George Littlejohn

Dr George Littlejohn

Lecturer in Applied Biology

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


2016 –  present       Lecturer in Applied Biology and Programme Lead, Environmental Biotechnology School of Biological and Marine Sciences, Plymouth University


2012 – 2016          Research Fellow       School of Biosciences, University of Exeter

2007 – 2012          Research Fellow       School of Biosciences, University ofExeter

2006 – 2007          Postdoctoral Research Assistant              Plant Science Group,IBLS, University of Glasgow

1999 – 2006          Ph.D.       University of Glasgow

1994 – 1999          B.Sc.(Hons), Genetics (With Work Placement)   University of Glasgow

Professional membership

2016– present    Member,  International Society for Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions

2014– present    Fellow,  Royal Microscopical Society   ( 2010– 2014,  Ordinary Member)   

2013– present    Fellow,   Higher Education Academy (2010-2014, Associate Fellow)                                         

2012– present    Member,  American Society of Plant Biologists

2010 – present    Member, European Microscopy Society  

2010 – present    Member, Society for Experimental Biology (President's Medallist, EPA, 2014)

Roles on external bodies

2017                         BBSRC grant review panel member     

2016                         BBSRC Bioimaging Review Group     

2015 - 2018              SEB+ Section Chair, Council Member & trustee, Society for Experimental Biology 

Teaching interests

I teach on 

BIOL119 Introduction to biology
BIOL111 Animal and Plant Physiology
BIOL125PP Scientific Methods and Ethics
BIOL217 Environmental Plant Physiology
BIOL228 Applied plant cell and molecular biology
BIOL301 Plant Biotechnology (Module Lead)
BIOL321 Pharmacology and atural products

I am also Programme Lead for the Environmental Biotechnology undergraduate degree programme and Bioscience and Animal Conservation Science top-up degrees.

Research interests

I am interested in using minimally invasive imaging to understand mechanisms of pathogenesis in plants. My current interest includes the role of circadian biology in rice blast disease. 

Grants & contracts

2018-2020        "FIND: Fluorescence Imaging for Nutrition and Disease" Agritech Cornwall Project, European Regional Development Fund 

Key publications are highlighted

Littlejohn GR 2018 'SUMO enters the ring: the emerging role of SUMOylation in Magnaporthe oryzae pathogenicity' New Phytologist 219, (3) 848-849 , DOI PEARL
Sassmann S, Rodrigues C, Milne SW, Nenninger A, Allwood E, Littlejohn GR, Talbot NJ, Soeller C, Davies B & Hussey PJ 2018 'An Immune-Responsive Cytoskeletal-Plasma Membrane Feedback Loop in Plants' Curr Biol 28, (13) 2136-2144.e7 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Sakulkoo W, Osés-Ruiz M, Oliveira Garcia E, Soanes DM, Littlejohn GR, Hacker C, Correia A, Valent B & Talbot NJ 2018 'A single fungal MAP kinase controls plant cell-to-cell invasion by the rice blast fungus' Science 359, 1399-1403 Publisher Site , DOI PEARL
Fones HN & Littlejohn GR 2017 'From Sample to Data: Preparing, Obtaining, and Analyzing Images of Plant-Pathogen Interactions Using Confocal Microscopy' 257-262 , DOI
Sambles C, Moore K, Lux TM, Jones K, Littlejohn GR, Gouveia JD, Aves SJ, Studholme DJ, Lee R & Love J 2017 'Metagenomic analysis of the complex microbial consortium associated with cultures of the oil-rich alga Botryococcus braunii' MicrobiologyOpen 6, (4) e00482-e00482 , DOI PEARL
Osés-Ruiz M, Sakulkoo W, Littlejohn GR, Martin-Urdiroz M & Talbot NJ 2016 'Two independent S-phase checkpoints regulate appressorium-mediated plant infection by the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, (2) E237-E244 , DOI PEARL
FRICKER MARKD, MOGER JULIAN, LITTLEJOHN GEORGER & DEEKS MICHAELJ 2016 'Making microscopy count: quantitative light microscopy of dynamic processes in living plants' Journal of Microscopy 263, (2) 181-191 , DOI PEARL
Littlejohn GR, Scott G & Williams M 2016 'Innovations and best practice in undergraduate education' F1000Research 5, 646-646 , DOI PEARL
Gupta YK, Dagdas YF, Martinez-Rocha A-L, Kershaw MJ, Littlejohn GR, Ryder LS, Sklenar J, Menke F & Talbot NJ 2015 'Septin-Dependent Assembly of the Exocyst Is Essential for Plant Infection by Magnaporthe oryzae' The Plant Cell 27, (11) 3277-3289 , DOI PEARL
Lewis LA, Polanski K, de Torres-Zabala M, Jayaraman S, Bowden L, Moore J, Penfold CA, Jenkins DJ, Hill C & Baxter L 2015 'Transcriptional Dynamics Driving MAMP-Triggered Immunity and Pathogen Effector-Mediated Immunosuppression in Arabidopsis Leaves Following Infection with Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000' The Plant Cell 27, (11) 3038-3064 , DOI PEARL
de Torres Zabala M, Littlejohn G, Jayaraman S, Studholme D, Bailey T, Lawson T, Tillich M, Licht D, Bölter B & Delfino L 2015 'Chloroplasts play a central role in plant defence and are targeted by pathogen effectors' Nature Plants 1, (6) , DOI PEARL
Littlejohn GR, Mansfield JC, Parker D, Lind R, Perfect S, Seymour M, Smirnoff N, Love J & Moger J 2015 'In Vivo Chemical and Structural Analysis of Plant Cuticular Waxes Using Stimulated Raman Scattering Microscopy' Plant Physiology 168, (1) 18-28 , DOI PEARL
Littlejohn GR, Meckel T, Schwarzländer M & Costa A 2014 'Functional imaging in living plants—cell biology meets physiology' Frontiers in Plant Science 5, , DOI PEARL
Hutt H, Everson R, Grant M, Love J & Littlejohn G 2014 'How clumpy is my image?' Soft Computing 19, (6) 1541-1552 , DOI PEARL
Littlejohn GR, Mansfield JC, Christmas JT, Witterick E, Fricker MD, Grant MR, Smirnoff N, Everson RM, Moger J & Love J 2014 'An update: improvements in imaging perfluorocarbon-mounted plant leaves with implications for studies of plant pathology, physiology, development and cell biology' Frontiers in Plant Science 5, , DOI PEARL
Mansfield JC, Littlejohn GR, Seymour MP, Lind RJ, Perfect S & Moger J 2013 'Label-free Chemically Specific Imaging in Planta with Stimulated Raman Scattering Microscopy' Analytical Chemistry 85, (10) 5055-5063 , DOI PEARL
Exposito-Rodriguez M, Laissue PP, Littlejohn GR, Smirnoff N & Mullineaux PM 2013 'The Use of HyPer to Examine Spatial and Temporal Changes in H2O2 in High Light-Exposed Plants' 185-201 , DOI PEARL
Littlejohn GR & Love J 2012 'A Simple Method for Imaging <em>Arabidopsis</em> Leaves Using Perfluorodecalin as an Infiltrative Imaging Medium' Journal of Visualized Experiments (59) , DOI
Littlejohn GR, Gouveia JD, Edner C, Smirnoff N & Love J 2010 'Perfluorodecalin enhances in vivo confocal microscopy resolution of Arabidopsis thaliana mesophyll' New Phytologist 186, (4) 1018-1025 , DOI PEARL
2007 'Errata' The Plant Journal 51, (4) 738-738 , DOI
Campanoni P, Sutter JU, Davis CS, Littlejohn GR & Blatt MR 2007 'A generalized method for transfecting root epidermis uncovers endosomal dynamics in Arabidopsis root hairs' The Plant Journal 51, (2) 322-330 , DOI PEARL
Oses-Ruiz M, Martin-Urdiroz M, Soanes DM, Kershaw MJ, Cruz-Mireles N, Valdovinos-Ponce G, Molinari C, Littlejohn GR, Derbyshire P & Menke F 0 'A hierarchical transcriptional network controls appressorium-mediated plant infection by the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae' , DOI
Lopez-Moya F, Martin-Urdiroz M, Oses-Ruiz M, Fricker MD, Littlejohn GR, Lopez-Llorca LV & Talbot NJ 0 'Chitosan inhibits septin-mediated plant infection by the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae in a Protein Kinase C and Nox1 NADPH oxidase-dependent manner' , DOI
2015 Functional Imaging in living Plants - Cell Biology meets Physiology. Frontiers Media SA , DOI
Foster AJ, Littlejohn GR, Soanes DM & Talbot NJ 2016 'Strategies for nutrient acquisition by Magnaporthe oryzae during the infection of rice' Host - Pathogen Interaction Microbial Metabolism, Pathogenicity and Antiinfectives John Wiley & Sons
Conference Papers
Hutt H, Everson R, Grant M, Love J & Littlejohn G 2013 'How clumpy is my image? Evaluating crowdsourced annotation tasks' 2013 13th UK Workshop on Computational Intelligence (UKCI) 9-/-0/2013 9-/-0/2013 IEEE , DOI

Other academic activities

I am actively involved in the Society for Experimental Biology, where I sat on the SEB Council and Chaired the SEB+ section (2015-18). More information here: http://www.sebiology.org/SEBplus/about-seb

I also act as reviewer for several academic publications and funding bodies and contributed to the BBSRC Bioimaging Review, 2016.

Additional information


2014        Society for Experimental Biology President’s Medal (Education and Public Affairs).

2013 – 14   Exeter University Merit Award

2012 – 13   Exeter University Merit Award

2010          European Biophysics Award: 1st Prize for a presentation at the Società Italiana di Fisica International School of Physics “Enrico Fermi” CLXXVII Course “Advanced Methods in Optical Fluorescence Microscopy Towards Nanoscopy”

2007 – 08   Exeter University Merit Award

1999           Pontecorvo Prize in Genetics (Graduating class 1st prize), University ofGlasgow



2015           Elected Society for Experimental Biology EPA (SEB+) SectionChair

2015           Council Member, Trustee and Cell and EPA (SEB+) Section Committees, Society for Experimental Biology

2014           Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society (Ordinary Member 2010-2014)

2013           Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Associate 2010 – 2013)

2012           University of Exeter ASPIRE Fellow (awarded for research-led education).


Invited talks

2018     Research seminar, University of York, UK

2017     Research seminar, University of Warwick, UK

2016     Research seminar, University of Alicante, Spain

2016     Invited lecture series on advanced imaging, University of Alicante, Spain

2015     Research seminar, University of Durham, UK.

2015     Research seminar, Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, University of Nottingham, UK.

2015     12th New Phytologist workshop “The apoplast as battleground for plant–microbe interactions” Gießen, Germany.

2015     Research seminar, Institute of Phytomedicine, University of Bonn, Germany.

2014     Society for Experimental Biology President’s Medallist Talk (Education & PublicAffairs), Main Meeting, Manchester, UK.

2014     Society for Experimental Biology, Careers Talk, SEB Main Meeting, Manchester, UK.

2010     Research talk and biography, Britain Needs Bioscientists, University of Exeter,Tremough, UK. 

Twitter: @geolittlejohn