Teagasc has appointed Steven Kildea, as a plant pathologist in the Crop Science Department, based in Oak Park, Carlow. Steven takes over from Eugene O’ Sullivan who has retired after years of service to Irish tillage farmers in the area of plant diseases. Eugene’s work on identifying the development of resistance of Septoria populations to the Strobilurin family of fungicides was world leading. More recently the Teagasc team in Oak Park led the way in identifying the shift in Septoria sensitivity to Triazoles. Steven, a native of county Monaghan, qualified with a B.Agr from UCD, before going on to complete a Masters in UCD in 2005. He received a PhD from Queens University Belfast where his thesis was on “Fungicide resistance in the wheat pathogen Mycosphaerella graminicola” (the cause of septoria tritici blotch). This was a Walsh fellowship supervised jointly by Dr. Eugene O’Sullivan and Dr. Ewen Mullins at Oak Park and Dr. Louise Cooke and Dr. Peter Mercer at Queens. Since 2008 Steven has been working in Oak Park, firstly investigating the Irish Phytophthora infestans (potato blight) population and most recently in cereal disease control.
Steven will be leading Teagasc’s work on cereal and potato disease control, including the monitoring of Irish pathogen populations in particular to fungicides and host resistances. The main emphasis of the research programme is on Septoria on wheat, Rhynchosporium and net blotch on barley and potato late blight.