School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Jonathan Stocks


PhD student



Project title: Genomics tools for enhanced efficiency of selection for superior forestry trees resistand to Hymenoschyphus pseudoalbidus (ask dieback)

Summary: Jonathan is a PhD student working with Dr. Buggs at Queen Mary University of London. He is funded by Science without Borders, a Brazilian Government scholarship programme, through its higher education agency CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico). He did his undergraduate studies at the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil and holds a Masters Degree in Forestry Sciences from the same university.

Jonathan worked for 8 years in the Brazilian forestry sector at Aperam BioEnergia, a company that plants Eucalyptus for charcoal production, supplying the Aperam Inox South America stainless steel industry. His core role was in Forest inventory and Planning, working with Long Term and Tactical Forest Planning and coordinating Forest inventory data collection and analysis.

Aperam BioEnergia’s strong background in Eucalyptus genetic improvement has also directed his interest into forest tree breeding strategies using advanced genomics tools.

The focus of the project will be the common ash Fraxinus excelsior, whose populations are being devastated in Europe by the fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (causing ash dieback). This project will build on substantial genomic work and field trials being carried our on ash in the UK, to begin to develop a strategy for selective breeding for resistance to the fungal pathogen. The objectives are to use genomic tools to enhance efficiency of selection for superior trees. This includes:
a) Use restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing to produce genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism data for ash trees in field-screening trials.
b) Assess marker-assisted approaches to tree breeding by testing potential genetic markers (identified in previous studies) for low H. pseudoalbidus susceptibility in ash.
c) Investigate the potential of genomic selection methods for breeding ash trees with low susceptibility to H. pseudoalbidus.