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The School of Agriculture, Policy and Development has a number of specialist laboratories in our main building, supporting a wide range of research and education projects.

Plant pathology laboratory

The plant pathology laboratory contains facilities for isolating, multiplying and studying micro-organisms, especially fungi that cause plant diseases.

Facilities within the laboratory include: 

  • a Category 2 biosafety cabinet
  • illuminated incubators with adjustable temperatures for day and night
  • facilities for preparing media and stains
  • two dissecting microscopes, one with computer control and camera
  • a compound microscope with transmitted light or UV epifluorescence capability.


Besides plant disease work (including virus transmission), the lab is used by staff and students needing microscope facilities or the biosafety cabinet for other specialisms.

Molecular genetics laboratory

This well-equipped, modern laboratory has all the apparatus necessary for the extraction and quantification of nucleic acids and proteins. This apparatus enables the accurate identification of species, or individuals, based on their genetic profile, and the assessment of the expression of selected genes from any material.

The lab is used in a wide range of fundamental and applied research studies that include those on viruses, fungi, plants, soil microflora and insects. Specific examples include studies on:

  • identification of genes and their expression in crop plants in response to disease, heat stress or nutrient application
  • analysis of endophytic fungi (those that live within a plant)
  • molecular interaction between viruses, their insect host and the plant on which the insect feeds.


Principal instruments used in the lab include a SpectraMax multi-mode spectrophotometer plate reader, nanodrop spectrophotometer (nucleic acid assessment), DirectDetect (protein IR spectrometer), tissue lyser (up to 192 nucleic acid extractions at a time), quantitative PCR, and an electrophoresis facility.

Analytical laboratories

There are four analytical laboratories within the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development. These offer an analytical portfolio for a wide range of matrices including blood, plasma, milk, tissues, digesta, urine, faeces, animal feeds and components, human foods and plants.

Two new analytical laboratories support school-wide animal, plant and soil research interests and contain the latest MW digestor (Ethos Easy), two Agilent gas chromatographs, and the Perkin Elmer elemental analyser Avio 500 ICP-OES.

In addition, the Department for Animal Sciences accommodates two specialist laboratories:

Fermentation laboratory

The fermentation laboratory is a Containment Level 2 laboratory with facilities for the measurement of in vitro digestibility and fermentation using Ankom Daisy incubators, an automated gas production system, and the rumen simulation technique (RUSITEC).

In addition, the lab also performs proximate analysis (nitrogen, fibre, fat, lipids, energy, carbohydrates, starch, sugars, ash, lignin) on a variety of materials.

Metabolism laboratory

The metabolism laboratory is a further Containment Level 2 facility equipped for the biochemical analysis of metabolites, markers and tracers in a wide range of matrices.

Routine analysis is undertaken for volatile fatty acids, amino acids, fatty acids, metabolites (glucose, lactate, nefa, ammonia, urea, beta-hydroxybutyrate, albumin, and blood gases), enzymes (gamma glutamyl transferase), markers (chromium, cobalt, and ytterbium), stable isotope tracers, gases (methane, sulphur hexafluoride), and polyphenol.

Mycorrhiza laboratory

The mycorrhiza laboratory is a clean facility operating to support sterile culture techniques and the assessment of mycorrhizal colonisation in plant roots. This specialist facility operates closely with the molecular genetics laboratory and the plant pathology laboratory.

A collection of ectomycorrhizal and ericoid mycorrhizal fungi are stored in the lab for use in experiments by our researchers. Assessment and colonisation checks of our arbuscular mycorrhizal collection, maintained at the Controlled Environment Laboratories, are also made in this laboratory.

The lab contains laminar flow air, dissecting and compound microscopes, and specialist incubators.

Incoming field or soil-contaminated samples are processed in the plant pathology lab and outgoing samples often undergo further analysis in the molecular biology laboratory or other facilities.

Environmental laboratories

We have a range of specialist environmental science laboratories that enable a wide range of analyses of soil, plant and animal materials.

The environmental, mycorrhiza, plant pathology and molecular genetics laboratories are augmented with a facility that houses a range of incubators, -80°C freezers, and walk-in freezer and chiller rooms.

On campus, there are insect rearing and state-of-the-art flight cages, as well as glasshouse facilities for conducting controlled pollination experiments on crops and wild plants.