Pieter van West (Professor/Principal Investigator, University of Aberdeen) is the Microbiology Programme Leader in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. He graduated as a molecular plant pathologist (MSc, Cum Laude & PhD) at the Wageningen University (1988-1993 & 1994-1998), which was followed by a post-doctoral project at the University of Aberdeen (1998-2000). He was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to study “Fundamental molecular processes in Oomycete pathogens” (2000-2008) and became a Lecturer (2004), a Senior Lecturer (2005), a Reader (2009) and currently holds a Chair in Oomycete Biology (2012).

[caption id="attachment_223" align="alignleft" width="200"]Peter van West Prof. Peter van West
University of Aberdeen

His current research programme in the Aberdeen Oomycete Laboratory focuses mainly on oomycete biology. Oomycetes, or water moulds, are a distinct group of eukaryotic microbes with often a fungal-like morphology, but with a much closer genetic similarity to brown algae and diatoms. Pathogenic oomycetes infect a wide range of organisms including crop plants, weeds, ornamental plants, trees, fish, humans, insects, crustaceans, brown algae, nematodes, fungi and even other oomycetes.

In the Aberdeen Oomycete Laboratory, several economically and environmentally important water moulds are studied at most disciplinary levels (taxonomy, ecology, epidemiology, biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology and especially host-microbe interactions). The most important animal pathogenic oomycetes under investigation are Saprolegnia parasitica, Saprolegnia australisSaprolegnia diclina and Aphanomyces spp. The plant pathogenic species include Phytophthora infestans and several Pythium spp. and the marine algal pathogenic species include Eurychasma dicksonii and Anisolpidium spp.

He has conducted and participated in expeditions and field trips with a scope in oomycete research, notably to the Falkland Islands, the Canadian Arctic, and Ascension Island.
Within the framework of the research expedition to Ascension, Pieter is particularly interested in collecting biological samples from fresh-water and salt-water for the presence of oomycete and fungal pathogens. In particular oomycetes that may infect algae or crustaceans, and fungi that attack sea turtle eggs.