Professor Jurriaan Ton

Dr Jurriaan Ton

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 0081



  • 2015: Professor of Plant Environmental Signalling. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK.
  • 2015: Monitoring editor of Plant Physiology.
  • 2014: Co-director of the Plant Production & Protection (P3) Institute (
  • 2012: ERC Research Fellow.
  • 2011-2015: Lecturer. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK.
  • 2008-2011: Principal Investigator and BBSRC Research Fellow. Rothamsted Research, Centre of Sustainable Pest and Disease Management, UK.
  • 2004-2008: Principal Investigator and NWO-VENI Research Fellow. Department of Biology, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
  • 2004: Post-doc position. Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Entomology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
  • 2001-2003: Post-doc position. Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
  • 2001: Post-doc position. Section Phytopathology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
  • PhD in Biology. (2001) Section Phytopathology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
  • MSc in Biology. (1996) Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

Key Research Interests

Jurrian Ton Research Interests edit

Our lab investigates how plants employ their immune system to adapt to environmental stress. Plants in relatively stress-free environments invest most of their resources in growth and reproduction. If plants live in hostile environments and are attacked by harmful microbes or insects, they activate inducible defence mechanisms. Activations of these defences is often costly, due to allocation of limited resources to defensive compounds, or toxicity of the defence response to the plant's own metabolism. Plants are also capable of acquiring a less costly form of resistance, which can be activated after perception of environmental alarm signals that sensitise the plant's immune system. This "defence priming" results in a faster and/or stronger defence reaction when the plant is attacked at a later stage.

Research in our lab is divided between four themes. W have a long-standing interest in the mechanisms by which priming-inducing chemicals, such as beta-aminobutyric acid (BABA), trigger immune priming. This work, led to the discovery of the BABA receptor, which controls broad-spectrum disease resistance and plant growth via separate signalling pathways (Luna et al., 2014). A large section of the lab investigates the epi-genetic basis of immune priming, which stems from our previous discovery that heavily diseased Arabidopsis plants can prime the immune system of their progeny (Luna et al., 2012). Current efforts focus on the role of DNA methylation in disease resistance (Lopez, Stassen et al., 2016) and transgenerational immune priming. A third line of research focuses on the role of root exudation chemistry in shaping disease suppresive microbial soil communities. Part of this work focuses on the role of benzoxazinoid exudates in shaping root microbial communities in maize (Neal et al., 2012). Finally, we collaborate with agricultural companies, such as ENZA Zaden, to translate our basic research and optimise crop protection through novel defence priming strategies (Luna et al., 2016).

Jurriaan Ton research interests 2


  • APS 132 - Level 1 tutorials
  • APS 134 - Genes, Cells and Populations
  • APS 222 - Level 2 tutorials
  • APS 276 - Symbiosis
  • APS 308 – Environmental Regulation in Plants
  • APS 330 - Level 3 Research Projects
  • APS 331 - Level 3 Dissertations
  • APS 406 - Level 4 Research Projects
  • MRes and PhD students


  • Dr. Oliver Berkowitz, Murdoch University, Australia
  • Prof. Vincent Colot, INRA, France
  • Dr. Paal Krokene and Dr. Melissa Megeroy, NIBIO, Norway
  • Dr. Klaus Schlaeppi, Agroscope, Switzerland
  • Dr. Matthias Erb, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Dr. Victor Flors, University of Jaume I, Spain
  • Prof. David Baulcombe, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Prof. Corné Pieterse, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Mike Roberts, University of Lancaster, UK

Current Group Members

  • Dr. Pierre Pétriacq (P3 Research Fellow)
  • Dr. Ana Lopez-Sanchez (Post-doc)
  • Dr. Joost Stassen (Post-doc)
  • Dr. Ritushree Jain (Post-doc)
  • Dr. Anne Cotton (Post-doc)
  • David Pardo (Technician)
  • Roland Schwarzenbacher (PhD student)
  • Alex Williams (PhD student)
  • Will Buswell (PhD student)
  • Mustafa Yassin (MRes student)

Ton lab group members

Former Group Members

  • Dr. Estrella Luna; University of Sheffield, UK
  • Dr. Shakoor Ahmad; Rothamsted Research, UK
  • Dr. Yuhua Zhang; Rothamsted Research, UK
  • Dr. Marieke van Hulten; Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Sjoerd van der Ent; Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Lab Webpage:

Selected Publications (asterisks indicate corresponding authorships)

Lopez, A., Stassen, J., Furci, L., and Ton, J.* (2016) The role of DNA (de)methylation in immune responsiveness of Arabidopsis. Plant J. in press; doi: 10.1111/tpj.13252

Pétriacq, P., Stassen, J., and Ton, J.* (2016) Spore density determines infection strategy by the plant pathogenic fungis Plectosphaerella cucumerina. Plant Phys. 170(4): 2325-2325

Luna, E., Beardon, E., Scholes, J., Ravnskov, S. and Ton, J.* (2016) Optimizing chemically induced resistance in tomato against Botrytis cinerea. Plant Dis. 100: 704-710

Erb, M., Veyrat, N., Robert, C.A.M., Xy, H., Frey, M., Ton, J., and Turlings, T.C.J. (2015) Indole is an essential herbivore-induced volatile priming signal in maize. Nat. Comm. 6: 6273

Luna, E., van Hulten, M., Zhang, Y., Berkowitz, O., Ana-López, A., Pétriacq, P., Sellwood, M.A., Chen, B., van de Meene, M.L., Pieterse, C.M.J., Flors, F., and Ton, J.* (2014) Plant perception of b-aminobutyric acid is mediated by an aspartyl-tRNA synthetase. Nat. Chem. Biol. 10: 450-456

Luna, E., López, A., Kooiman, J., and Ton, J.* (2014) Role of NPR1 and KYP in long-lasting induced resistance by ß-aminobutyric acid. Front. Plant Sci. 5:184. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00184

Cameron, D., Neal, A., Van Wees, S.A.C.M., Ton, J.* (2013) Mycorrhiza-induced resistance: more than the sum of parts? Trends Plant Sci. 10: 539-554

Pastor, V., Luna, E., Mauch-Mani, B., Ton, J.,* and Flors, V.* (2013) Primed plants do not forget. Environ. Exp. Bot. 94: 46-56

Neal, A.L. and Ton, J.* (2013) Systemic defense priming by Pseudomonas putida KT2440 in maize depends on benzoxazinoid exudation from the roots. Plant Signal. & Behav. e22655

Neal, A., Ahmad, S., Gordon-Weeks, R., and Ton, J.* (2012) Benzoxazinoids in root exudates of maize attract Pseudomonas putida to the rhizosphere. PLoS ONE 7(4): e35498

Luna, E., Bruce, T.J.A., Roberts, M.R., Flors, V., and Ton, J.* (2012) Next-generation systemic acquired resistance. Plant Physiol. 157: 317-327

Ahmad, S., Veyrat, N., Gordon-Weeks, R., Zhang, Y., Martin, J., Smart, L., Glauser, G., Erb, M., Frey, M., and Ton, J.* (2011) Benzoxazinoid metabolites regulate innate immunity against aphids and fungi in maize. Plant Physiol. 157: 317-327

Ahmad, A., Van Hulten, M., Martin, J., Pieterse, C.M.J., Van Wees, S.C.M., and Ton, J.* (2011) Genetic dissection of natural variation in basal defences between Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. Plant Cell Environ. 34: 1191-1206

Luna, E., Pastor, V., Robert, J., Flors, V., Mauch-Mani, B., and Ton, J.* (2011) Callose deposition: a multifaceted plant defence response. Mol Plant-Microbe Interact. 24: 183-193

Van der Ent, S., Van Hulten, M., Pozo, M.J., Czechowski, T., Udvardi, M.K., Pieterse, C.M.J., Ton, J.* (2009) Priming of plant innate immunity by rhizobacteria and beta-aminobutyric acid: differences and similarities in regulation. New Phytol. 183: 419-431

Ton, J., Flors, V., and Mauch-Mani, B. (2009) The multifaceted role of ABA in disease resistance. Trends Plant Sci. 14: 310-7

Erb, M., Flors, V., Karlen, D., de Lange, E., Planchamp, C., D'Alessandro, M., Turlings, T.C., Ton, J.* (2009) Signal signature of aboveground-induced resistance upon belowground herbivory in maize. Plant J. 59: 292-302

Heil, M., and Ton, J. (2008) Long-distance signalling in plant defence. Trends Plant Sci. 13: 264-272

Ton, J*., D'Alessandro, M., Jourdie, V., Jakab, G., Karlen, D., Held, M., Mauch-Mani, B., and Turlings, T.C.J. (2007) Priming by air-borne signals boosts direct and indirect resistance in maize. Plant J. 49: 16-26

Van Hulten, M., Pelser, M., Van Loon, L.C., Pieterse, C.M.J., and Ton, J.* (2006) Costs and benefits of priming for defence in Arabidopsis. Proc. Natl.Acad. Sci. USA. 103: 5602-5607

Prime-A-Plant Group: Conrath, U., Beckers, G.J.M., Flors, V., Garcia-Agustin, P., Jakab, G., Mauch, F., Newman, M.-A., Pieterse, C.M.J., Poinssot, B., Pozo, M.J., Pugin, A., Scaffrath, U., Ton, J., Wendehenne, D., Zimmerli, L. and Mauch-Mani, B. (2006) Priming: getting ready for battle. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 19: 1062-1071

Ton, J., Jakab, G., Toquin, V., Flors, V., Iavicoli, A., Maeder, M.N., Métraux, J.-P, and Mauch-Mani, B. (2005) Dissecting the b-aminobutyric acid-induced priming phenomenon on Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 17: 987-999

Ton, J. and Mauch-Mani, B. (2004) Beta-amino-butyric acid-induced resistance against necrotrophic pathogens is based on ABA-dependent priming for callose. Plant J. 38: 119-130