Profile of James Doonan

James Doonan
Postdoctoral Research Officer
01248 38 8392


Currently, I am a post-doctoral researcher funded by Forest Research, the Monument Foundation and Woodland Heritage to establish the molecular interactions which underpin bacterial and fungal mediated necrosis of oak tissue, particularly within Acute Oak Decline (AOD) and Chronic Oak Decline (COD). This work is a collaboration between Bangor University and Forest Research (Alice Holt, Surrey).

AOD is a recently described decline-disease affecting oak trees in the United Kingdom. It is caused by a complex pathobiome of interacting bacteria, resulting in degradation and necrosis of bark tissue. This causes ring-barking or ‘girdling’ as nutrients are no longer transported through phloem and sapwood. However, oak trees are resilient and when affected many oaks can repel bacterial pathogens. Furthermore, an oak must first become susceptible to bacterial pathogens through the predisposing factors of decline. Predisposing and contributing factors of decline are biotic and abiotic, including drought and pests such as the buprestid beetle Agrilus biguttatus – an insect found in >90% cases of AOD. The incidence of AOD is increasing as climatic fluctuations increase incidence of drought and other perturbations, weakening the resilience of oaks and subjecting them to increased likelihood of decline-disease.



Ph.D Genomic analysis of bacterial species associated with Acute Oak Decline. Bangor University. 2012-2017.
MSc. Population genetics of the intertidal mollusc Kathariana tunicata. Queens University Belfast. 2010-2012.
BSc. (hons). Microbiology. University of Glasgow. 2003-2007


Broberg M, Doonan J, Mundt F, Denman S, McDonald JE. 2018. Integrated multi-omic analysis of host-microbiota interactions in acute oak decline. Microbiome 6: 21.

Denman S*, Doonan J*, Ransom-Jones E, Broberg M, Plummer S, Kirk S, Scarlett K, Griffiths AR, Kaczmarek M, Forster J, et al. 2018. Microbiome and infectivity studies reveal complex polyspecies tree disease in Acute Oak Decline. The ISME Journal 12: 386–399.

Doonan J, Beatty GE, Sigwart JD, Provan J. 2012. Extensive local-scale gene flow and long-term population stability in the intertidal mollusc Katharina tunicata (Mollusca: Polyplacophora). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 106: 589–597.

Doonan J, Denman S, Gertler C, Pachebat JA, Golyshin PN, McDonald JE. 2015. The intergenic transcribed spacer region 1 as a molecular marker for identification and discrimination of Enterobacteriaceae associated with acute oak decline. Journal of applied microbiology 118: 193–201.

Doonan J, Denman S, McDonald JE, Golyshin PN. 2016. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing analysis of soft-rot Enterobacteriaceae in polymicrobial communities. In: Metagenomics. Springer New York, 85–97.

Ransom-Jones E, McCarthy A, Haldenby S, Doonan J, McDonald J. 2017. Lignocellulose-Degrading Microbial Communities in Landfill Sites Represent a Repository of Unexplored Biomass- Degrading Diversity Emma. mSphere 2: e00300-17.

*Joint first author