Sandra Denman, BSc, HDE, MSc, PhD

Project Leader and Senior Research Scientist

Sandra Denman


Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5600
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5640
Fax: +44 (0)1420 23653

Forest Research
Alice Holt Lodge
Surrey GU10 4LH

Sandra obtained a PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. She has extensive experience in soilborne and stem canker diseases. Her main interests are causes, effects and management of oak declines, where she uses a holistic research approach. Her specific interests are on the pathology and microbiological interactions in acute oak decline and chronic oak decline.

Current roles

  • Principal Investigator oak declines
  • Director of a multidisciplinary team carrying out oak decline research

Current Tree Health programme: Understanding threats to resilience

Project : Oak declines

Responsible for:

  • Planning and leading research projects
  • Managing an integrated multidisciplinary team situated at various national and international venues
  • Identifying knowledge gaps, developing research strategies and shaping research direction
  • Obtaining external funding for research on AOD in the UK (>£M)
  • Sourcing required skills
  • Carrying out research
  • Collating, reporting and publishing findings
  • Transferring information to the sector, interested parties, local authorities, tree groups and charities in the UK 

Current research foci

  • Pathology of AOD and COD
  • Taxonomy of organisms associated with AOD including entomological, bacteriological and mycological studies
  • Developing rapid diagnostics
  • Metabolomics
  • Dendrochronology – historical predisposition factors
  • Entomology
  • Epidemiology including infection pathways, analyses of spatial aspects
  • Mapping (Climex mapping included) and monitoring selected sites
  • Managing reports on the distribution of AOD in the UK
  • Management research
  • Providing management advice.



  • British Mycological Society
  • British Society for Plant Pathology
  • South African Society for Plant Pathology

Current international research collaboration:

  • CBS (Netherlands)
  • Forest and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI, South Africa)
  • Ghent University (Belgium)
  • UPM-INIA, Madrid (Spain)
  • University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • USDA Forest Services (USA)

Current national research collaboration:

  • Aberystwyth University
  • Bangor University
  • East Malling Research Institute
  • Fera
  • Harper Adams University
  • Imperial College, London
  • Rothamsted Research Institute
  • Swansea University
  • University of Essex
  • University of the West of England


  • Initiator of research on Acute Oak Decline (AOD) and raising awareness of oak health in the UK
  • Secure government, industry, stakeholder funding partnerships
  • Obtain significant external funding for Oak Decline research
  • Establish wide ranging collaborative research networks and partnerships with universities, research organisations, practitioners and stakeholders
  • Extensive knowledge transfer on forest and tree health and pathology
  • Advisor to Parliamentary Enquiries (tree pathology) and the Science Select Committee on forest research
  • Invited Advisor on Acute Oak Decline to HRH the Prince of Wales
  • Supervision of numerous post graduate studentships and post-doctoral research projects

Research areas

  • Acute Oak Decline
  • Chronic Oak decline 

Main recent publications

Publications in peer reviewed scientific journals (2012 to present)


Denman, S., Doonan, J., Ransom-Jones, E., Broberg, M., Plummer, S., Kirk, S., Scarlett, K., Griffiths, A.R., Kaczmarek, M., Forster, J., Peace, A., Golyshin, P.N., Hassard, F., Brown, N., Kenny, J.G., McDonald, J.E. (2017) Microbiome and infectivity studies reveal complex polyspecies tree disease in Acute Oak Decline. International Society Microbial Ecology Journal.

Denman, S. , Barrett, G., Kirk, S.A., McDonald, J.E., Coetzee, M.P.A. (2017) Identification of Armillaria species on oak in Britain: Implications for Oak Health. Forestry 90(1), 148-161.

Brady, C., Arnold, D., McDonald, J., Denman, S. (2017) Taxonomy and identification of bacteria associated with Acute Oak Decline.World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 33(143), Springer submitted online 16 June 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s11274-017-2296-4.

Brown, N., van den Bosch, F., Parnell, S. and Denman, S. (2017) Integrating regulatory surveys and public reports to map outbreaks of forest diseases: Acute Oak Decline in England and Wales. Royal Society Proceedings B 284: 20170547

Brown, N., Jeger, M., Kirk, S., Williams, D., Xu, X., Pautasso, M.,Denman, S. (2017) Acute Oak Decline and Agrilus biguttatus: The Co-Occurrence of Stem Bleeding and D-Shaped Emergence Holes in Great Britain. Forests 8(3), 87. doi:10.3390/f8030087.

Kaczmarek, M., Mullett, M.S., McDonald, J.E., Denman, S. (2017) Multilocus sequence typing provides insights into the population structure and evolutionary potential of Brenneria goodwinii, associated with acute oak decline

Reed, K., Denman, S., Leather, S., Forster, J., Inward, D. (2017) The lifecycle of Agrilus biguttatus: the role of temperature in its development and distribution, and implications for Acute Oak Decline. Agricultural and Forest Entomology manuscript ID is AFE(2017)2937 submitted.


Denman, S. , Plummer, S., Kirk, S.A., Peace, A., McDonald, J.E. (2016) Isolation studies reveal a shift in the microbiome of oak affected with Acute Oak Decline. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 39 (7), 484-490.

Brady, C., Allainguillaume, J., Denman, S., Arnold, D. (2016) Rapid identification of bacteria associated with Acute Oak Decline by high resolution melt (HRM) analysis. Letters in Applied Microbiology 63(2), 89-95.

Doonan, J., Denman, S., McDonald, J.E., Golyshin, P.N. (2016) Shotgun metagenomic sequencing analysis of soft-rot Enterobacteriaceae in polymicrobial communities. Methods in Molecular Biology 1539, 85-97.

Sapp, M., Lewis, E., Moss, S., Barrett, B., Kirk, S., Elphinstone, J., Denman, S. (2016) Metabarcoding of bacteria associated with the acute oak decline syndrome in England. Forests 7(5), 95.

Vuts, J., Woodcock, C.M., Sumner, M., Caulfield, J.C., Reed, K., Inward, D.J.G., Leather, S.R., Pickett, J.A., Birkett, M.A., Denman, S. (2016) Responses of the two-spotted oak buprestid, Agrilus biguttatus (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), to host tree volatiles. Pest Management Science 72, 845-851.


Brown, N., Inward, D.J.G., Jeger, M., Denman, S. (2015) A review of Agrilus biguttatus in UK forests and its relationship with acute oak decline. Forestry 88, 53-63.

Brown, N., Jeger, M., Kirk, S., Xu, X., Denman, S. (2015) Spatial and temporal patterns in symptom expression within eight woodlands affected by Acute Oak Decline. Forest Ecology and Management 360, 97-109.

Brady, C., Irisawa, T., Iino, T., Ohkuma, M., Arnold, D.,Denman, S. (2015) Gibbsiella papilionis Kimet al. 2013 is a later heterotypic synonym ofGibbsiella dentisursi Saito et al. 2012.International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 65(12), 4788-91.

Doonan, J., Denman, S., Gertler, C., Pachebat, J.A., Golyshin, P.N., McDonald, J.E. (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(1), 193-201.


Denman, S. , Brown, N., Kirk, S., Jeger, M., Webber, J.F. (2014) A description of the symptoms of Acute Oak Decline in Britain and a comparative review on causes of similar disorders on oak in Europe . Forestry 87, 535-551.

Brady, C., Hunter, G., Kirk, S., Arnold, D., Denman, S. (2014) Rahnella victoriana sp. nov., Rahnella bruchi sp. nov., Rahnella woolbedingensis sp. nov., classification of Rahnella genomospecies 2 and 3 as Rahnella variigena sp. nov. and Rahnella inusitata sp. nov., respectively and emended description of the genus Rahnella. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 37, 545-552.

Brady, C., Hunter, G., Kirk, S., Arnold, D., Denman, S. (2014) Description of Brenneria roseae sp. nov. and two subspecies, Brenneria roseae subspecies roseae ssp. nov and Brenneria roseae subspecies americana ssp. nov. isolated from symptomatic oak. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 37, 391-401.

Brady, C., Hunter, G., Kirk, S., Arnold, D., Denman, S. (2014) Gibbsiella greigii sp. nov., a novel species associated with oak decline in the USA. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 37, 417-422.

Brown, N., Kirk, S., Jeger, M., Webber, J.F., Denman, S. (2014) A description of the symptoms of Acute Oak Decline in Britain and a comparative review on causes of similar disorders on oak in Europe. Forestry 87 (4), 535-551.

Scanu, B., Hunter, G.C., Linaldeddu, B.T., Franceschini, A., Maddau, L., Jung, T. and Denman S. (2014). A taxonomic re-evaluation reveals that Phytophthora cinnamomi and P. cinnamomi var. parvispora are separate species. Forest Pathology 44(1), 1–20.


Denman, S. , Brady, C., Kirk, S., Cleenwerck, I., Venter, S., Coutinho, T.A., De Vos, P. (2012) Brenneria goodwinii sp. nov., associated with acute oak decline in the UK. Int. Journal Syst Evol Microbiology 62, 2451-2456.

Brady, C., Cleenwerck, I., Denman, S., Venter, S.N., Rodriguez-Palenzuela, P., Coutinho, T.A., De Vos, P. (2012) Proposal to reclassify Brenneria quercina (Hildebrand and Schroth 1967) Haubenet al. 1999 into a new genus, Lonsdalea gen. nov., asLonsdalea quercina comb. nov., descriptions ofLonsdalea quercina subsq. quercina comb. nov.,Lonsdalea quercina subsq. Iberica subsq. nov. and Lonsdalea quercina subsp. británica subsp. nov., emendation of the description of the genus Brenneria, reclassification of Dickeya dieffenbachiae as Dickeya dadantii subsq. Dieffenbachiae comb. nov., and emendation of the description of Dickeya dadantii.International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 62(7), 1592-1602.