Malcolm Press

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Malcolm Press
Malcolm Colin Press

(1958-09-18) 18 September 1958 (age 62) [1]
Alma mater
Awards BES presidents Medal (2005)
Scientific career
Thesis Responses to acidic deposition in blanket bogs  (1983)
Doctoral advisor John A. Lee [3] [4]
Notable students Julian Hibberd (postdoc)

Malcolm Colin Press (born 18 September 1958) [1] is a British ecologist, professor and Vice-Chancellor of the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), in the United Kingdom. [1] [5]



Press was educated at the Westfield College, [1] part of the University of London gaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science in 1980 followed by a PhD from the University of Manchester in 1984 supervised by John A. Lee. [3] In 2008, he gained a Diploma in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Sheffield.


Following his PhD, Press was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at University College London (UCL) from 1985 to 1989.

He was appointed a Lecturer in 1989 at the University of Manchester and promoted to senior lecturer in 1992. He moved to the University of Sheffield in 1994, where he was a Reader until 1998, then professor of Physiological Ecology, and Head of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences from 2002.

He was appointed Pro-vice-chancellor and Head of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham in 2008. From 2013 he was Birmingham's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer. [6] [7]

Press started his position as Vice-Chancellor at MMU in June 2015 [8] [9] [10] [11] where he took over from John Brooks who held the post from 2005 to 2015. [12] [13]

Press was president of the British Ecological Society (BES) 2007–2009, and was awarded the BES president's medal in 2005. From 2009 to 2012, he was a member of the Council of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. [14] Between 2012 and 2018, he was on the Board of Trustees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, appointed by Lord Taylor. [2] Since 2015 he has been a trustee of the World Wide Fund for Nature [15] UK. In 2017, he was appointed as Chair of the Manchester Memorial Advisory Group, serving until 2020. In 2020, he was appointed a trustee of the British Council. He sits on the boards of UCAS, [16] and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. [17] Press also sits on the boards of a number of university-linked businesses, including Manchester Science Partnerships, [18] Health Innovation Manchester, [19] and the Oxford Road Corridor. [20]


Press is internationally recognised as a researcher in the field of sustainable agriculture, climate change and tropical forests. [21] Highlights include:

Impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on upland vegetation: his PhD was the first demonstration of the impact of pollutant nitrogen on a British terrestrial ecosystem. [22] [23] [24]

Impacts of climate change on terrestrial Arctic ecosystems: community changes to temperature and nutrients are driven by the response of key species and their interactions. [25] [26] [27] [28]

Interactions between parasitic plants and their cereal hosts in sub-Saharan Africa: control and mechanisms of tolerance and resistance. [29] [30] [31]

Impacts of parasitic plants on ecosystem structure and function: hemiparasites are keystone species and ecosystem engineers, shaping community structure through impacts on decomposition and nutrient cycling. [32] [33] [34] [35]

Factors that control the regeneration of dipterocarp seedlings in South East Asian tropical rain forests. [36] [37] [38]

Related Research Articles

Mycorrhiza Symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a vascular plant

A mycorrhiza is a mutual symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant. The term mycorrhiza refers to the role of the fungus in the plant's rhizosphere, its root system. Mycorrhizae play important roles in plant nutrition, soil biology and soil chemistry.

Apoplast The extracellular space, outside the plasma membrane of plants

Inside a plant, the apoplast is the space outside the plasma membrane within which material can diffuse freely. It is interrupted by the Casparian strip in roots, by air spaces between plant cells and by the plant cuticle.

Arbuscular mycorrhiza

An arbuscular mycorrhiza is a type of mycorrhiza in which the symbiont fungus penetrates the cortical cells of the roots of a vascular plant forming arbuscules.

<i>Striga</i> A genus of flowering plants belonging to the broomrape family

Striga, commonly known as witchweed, is a genus of parasitic plants that occur naturally in parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia. It is in the family Orobanchaceae. Some species are serious pathogens of cereal crops, with the greatest effects being in savanna agriculture in Africa. It also causes considerable crop losses in other regions, including other tropical and subtropical crops in its native range and in the Americas.


A fructan is a polymer of fructose molecules. Fructans with a short chain length are known as fructooligosaccharides. Fructans can be found in over 12% of the angiosperms including both monocots and dicots such as agave, artichokes, asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions, yacón, jícama, barley and wheat.


Corallorhiza, the coralroot, is a genus of flowering plants in the orchid family. Except for the circumboreal C. trifida, the genus is restricted to North America.

Myco-heterotrophy Symbiotism between certain parasitic plants and fungi

Myco-heterotrophy is a symbiotic relationship between certain kinds of plants and fungi, in which the plant gets all or part of its food from parasitism upon fungi rather than from photosynthesis. A myco-heterotroph is the parasitic plant partner in this relationship. Myco-heterotrophy is considered a kind of cheating relationship and myco-heterotrophs are sometimes informally referred to as "mycorrhizal cheaters". This relationship is sometimes referred to as mycotrophy, though this term is also used for plants that engage in mutualistic mycorrhizal relationships.

<i>Rhizopogon</i> Genus of fungi

Rhizopogon is a genus of ectomycorrhizal Basidiomycetes in the family Rhizopogonaceae. Species form hypogeous sporocarps commonly referred to as "false truffles". The general morphological characters of Rhizopogon sporocarps are a simplex or duplex peridium surrounding a loculate gleba that lacks a columnella. Basidiospores are produced upon basidia that are borne within the fungal hymenium that coats the interior surface of gleba locules. The peridium is often adorned with thick mycelial cords, also known as rhizomorphs, that attach the sporocarp to the surrounding substrate. The scientific name Rhizopogon is Greek for 'root' (Rhiz-) 'beard' (-pogon) and this name was given in reference to the rhizomorphs found on sporocarps of many species.


Cardenolide is a type of steroid. Many plants contain derivatives, collectively known as cardenolides, including many in the form of cardenolide glycosides (cardenolides that contain structural groups derived from sugars). Cardenolide glycosides are often toxic; specifically, they are heart-arresting. Cardenolides are toxic to animals through inhibition of the enzyme Na+/K+‐ATPase, which is responsible for maintaining the sodium and potassium ion gradients across cell membranes.

John Albert Raven FRS FRSE is a British botanist, and emeritus professor at University of Dundee and the University of Technology Sydney. His primary research interests lie in the ecophysiology and biochemistry of marine and terrestrial primary producers such as plants and algae.

Mycorrhizal network Underground hyphal networks that connect individual plants together

Mycorrhizal networks are underground hyphal networks created by mycorrhizal fungi that connect individual plants together and transfer water, carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients and minerals.


An ectomycorrhiza is a form of symbiotic relationship that occurs between a fungal symbiont, or mycobiont, and the roots of various plant species. The mycobiont is often from the phyla Basidiomycota and Ascomycota, and more rarely from the Zygomycota. Ectomycorrhizas form on the roots of around 2% of plant species, usually woody plants, including species from the birch, dipterocarp, myrtle, beech, willow, pine and rose families. Research on ectomycorrhizas is increasingly important in areas such as ecosystem management and restoration, forestry and agriculture.

PACMAD clade A major clade in the grass family Poaceae

The PACMAD clade (previously PACCMAD, PACCAD, or PACC) is one of two major lineages (or clades) of the true grasses (Poaceae), regrouping six subfamilies and about 5700 species, more than half of all true grasses. Its sister group is the BOP clade. The PACMAD lineage is the only group within the grasses in which the C4 photosynthesis pathway has evolved; studies have shown that this happened independently multiple times.

Ectomycorrhizal extramatrical mycelium

Ectomycorrhizal extramatrical mycelium is the collection of filamentous fungal hyphae emanating from ectomycorrhizas. It may be composed of fine, hydrophilic hypha which branches frequently to explore and exploit the soil matrix or may aggregate to form rhizomorphs; highly differentiated, hydrophobic, enduring, transport structures.

<i>Philidris cordata</i> Species of ant

Philidris cordata is a species of ant in the genus Philidris. Described by Smith in 1859, the species is endemic to Indonesia and New Guinea. This species is a frequent inhabitant of the ant plant genera: Myrmecodia and Hydnophytum.

Orchid mycorrhizae are symbiotic relationships between the roots of plants of the family Orchidaceae and a variety of fungi. All orchids are myco-heterotrophic at some point in their life cycle. Orchid mycorrhizae are critically important during orchid germination, as an orchid seed has virtually no energy reserve and obtains its carbon from the fungal symbiont.


Strigolactones are a group of chemical compounds produced by a plant's roots. Due to their mechanism of action, these molecules have been classified as plant hormones or phytohormones. So far, strigolactones have been identified to be responsible for three different physiological processes: First, they promote the germination of parasitic organisms that grow in the host plant's roots, such as Strigalutea and other plants of the genus Striga. Second, strigolactones are fundamental for the recognition of the plant by symbiotic fungi, especially arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, because they establish a mutualistic association with these plants, and provide phosphate and other soil nutrients. Third, strigolactones have been identified as branching inhibition hormones in plants; when present, these compounds prevent excess bud growing in stem terminals, stopping the branching mechanism in plants.

Mycorrhiza helper bacteria Group of organisms

Mycorrhiza helper bacteria (MHB) are a group of organisms that form symbiotic associations with both ectomycorrhiza and arbuscular mycorrhiza. MHBs are diverse and belong to a wide variety of bacterial phyla including both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Some of the most common MHBs observed in studies belong to the phylas Pseudomonas and Streptomyces. MHBs have been seen to have extremely specific interactions with their fungal hosts at times, but this specificity is lost with plants. MHBs enhance mycorrhizal function, growth, nutrient uptake to the fungus and plant, improve soil conductance, aid against certain pathogens, and help promote defense mechanisms. These bacteria are naturally present in the soil, and form these complex interactions with fungi as plant root development starts to take shape. The mechanisms through which these interactions take shape are not well-understood and needs further study.

Some types of lichen are able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. This process relies on the presence of cyanobacteria as a partner species within the lichen. The ability to fix nitrogen enables lichen to live in nutrient-poor environments. Lichen can also extract nitrogen from the rocks on which they grow.

Nancy Collins Johnson is an American earth scientist who is the Regents’ Professor and Director of the School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. Her work considers soil microbial ecology and the study of mycorrhizal fungi. She was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2020.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Anon (2015). "Press, Prof. Malcolm Colin". Who's Who . (online Oxford University Press  ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.10000142.(subscription or UK public library membership required)(subscription required)
  2. 1 2 "Professor Malcolm Press has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Lord Taylor". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  3. 1 2 Press, Malcolm Colin (1983). Responses to Acidic Deposition in Blanket Bogs. (PhD thesis). University of Manchester. Copac   36522465. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015.
  4. "Emeritus Professor John A Lee". Sheffield: University of Sheffield. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012.
  5. "Brazil and beyond: inside Birmingham and Nottingham universities' research partnership". The Guardian . 15 March 2012. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014.
  6. "Professor Malcolm Press, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer, Life and Environmental Sciences". Birmingham: University of Birmingham. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013.
  7. "Professor Malcolm Press BSc, PhD, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Knowledge Transfer)". Birmingham: University of Birmingham. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  8. "Professor Malcolm Press begins as Vice-Chancellor: New era for Manchester Metropolitan University". Manchester Metropolitan University. Archived from the original on 5 June 2015.
  9. "Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor". Manchester Metropolitan University. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015.
  10. Jump, Paul (2013). "Birmingham pro v–c's remark infuriates staff". Times Higher Education . Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  11. "UK Government Research Grants awarded to Malcolm Press". Research Councils UK. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015.
  12. Anon (2015). "Brooks, Prof. John Stuart". Who's Who . (online Oxford University Press  ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.8907.(subscription or UK public library membership required)(subscription required)
  13. "Manchester Metropolitan University appoints new vice-chancellor". Manchester: Manchester Evening News. 12 December 2014. Archived from the original on 15 February 2016.
  14. "UCAS welcomes three new Trustees to our Board". UCAS. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  15. "Malcolm Press". WWF. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  16. "Board of Trustees". UCAS. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  17. "". Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  18. "MANCHESTER SCIENCE PARTNERSHIPS LIMITED - Officers (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  19. "Our Board". Health Innovation Manchester. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  20. "Board". Oxford Road Corridor. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  21. "Scopus preview - Scopus - Author details (Press, Malcolm)". Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  22. Press, M. C.; Lee, J. A. (December 1982). "Nitrate Reductase Activity of Sphagnum Species in the South Pennines". New Phytologist. 92 (4): 487–494. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1982.tb03406.x. ISSN   0028-646X.
  23. Woodin, S.; Press, M. C.; Lee, J. A. (March 1985). "Nitrate Reductase Activity in Sphagnum Fuscum in Relation to Wet Deposition of Nitrate from the Atmosphere". New Phytologist. 99 (3): 381–388. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1985.tb03666.x. ISSN   0028-646X.
  24. Press, M. C.; Woodin, S. J.; Lee, J. A. (May 1986). "The Potential Importance of an Increased Atmospheric Nitrogen Supply to the Growth of Ombrotrophic Sphagnum Species". New Phytologist. 103 (1): 45–55. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1986.tb00595.x. ISSN   0028-646X.
  25. Press, M.C.; Potter, J.A.; Burke, M.J.W.; Callaghan, T.V.; Lee, J.A. (April 1998). "Responses of a subarctic dwarf shrub heath community to simulated environmental change". Journal of Ecology. 86 (2): 315–327. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2745.1998.00261.x . ISSN   0022-0477.
  26. Bale, Jeffery S.; Masters, Gregory J.; Hodkinson, Ian D.; Awmack, Caroline; Bezemer, T. Martijn; Brown, Valerie K.; Butterfield, Jennifer; Buse, Alan; Coulson, John C.; Farrar, John; Good, John E. G. (January 2002). "Herbivory in global climate change research: direct effects of rising temperature on insect herbivores". Global Change Biology. 8 (1): 1–16. Bibcode:2002GCBio...8....1B. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2486.2002.00451.x. ISSN   1354-1013.
  27. Richardson, Sarah J.; Press, Malcolm C.; Parsons, Andrew N.; Hartley, Susan E. (June 2002). "How do nutrients and warming impact on plant communities and their insect herbivores? A 9‐year study from a sub‐Arctic heath". Journal of Ecology. 90 (3): 544–556. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2745.2002.00681.x . ISSN   0022-0477.
  28. Sloan, Victoria L.; Fletcher, Benjamin J.; Press, Malcolm C.; Williams, Mathew; Phoenix, Gareth K. (December 2013). "Leaf and fine root carbon stocks and turnover are coupled across Arctic ecosystems". Global Change Biology. 19 (12): 3668–3676. Bibcode:2013GCBio..19.3668S. doi:10.1111/gcb.12322. PMID   23846848.
  29. Scholes, Julie D; Press, Malcolm C (April 2008). "Striga infestation of cereal crops – an unsolved problem in resource limited agriculture". Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 11 (2): 180–186. doi:10.1016/j.pbi.2008.02.004. PMID   18337158.
  30. Swarbrick, P. J.; Huang, K.; Liu, G.; Slate, J.; Press, M. C.; Scholes, J. D. (July 2008). "Global patterns of gene expression in rice cultivars undergoing a susceptible or resistant interaction with the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica". New Phytologist. 179 (2): 515–529. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02484.x. PMID   19086183.
  31. Cissoko, Mamadou; Boisnard, Arnaud; Rodenburg, Jonne; Press, Malcolm C.; Scholes, Julie D. (December 2011). "New Rice for Africa (NERICA) cultivars exhibit different levels of post-attachment resistance against the parasitic weeds Striga hermonthica and Striga asiatica". New Phytologist. 192 (4): 952–963. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03846.x . PMID   21883232.
  32. Hartley, S. E.; Green, J. P.; Massey, F. P.; Press, M. C. P.; Stewart, A. J. A.; John, E. A. (September 2015). "Hemiparasitic plant impacts animal and plant communities across four trophic levels". Ecology. 96 (9): 2408–2416. doi:10.1890/14-1244.1. ISSN   0012-9658. PMID   26594698.
  33. Quested, Helen M.; Cornelissen, J. Hans C.; Press, Malcolm C.; Callaghan, Terry V.; Aerts, Rien; Trosien, Frank; Riemann, Petra; Gwynn-Jones, Dylan; Kondratchuk, Alexandra; Jonasson, Sven E. (December 2003). "Decomposition of Sub-Arctic Plants with Differing Nitrogen Economies: A Functional Role for Hemiparasites". Ecology. 84 (12): 3209–3221. doi:10.1890/02-0426. ISSN   0012-9658.
  34. Press, Malcolm C.; Phoenix, Gareth K. (23 February 2005). "Impacts of parasitic plants on natural communities: Tansley review". New Phytologist. 166 (3): 737–751. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2005.01358.x . PMID   15869638.
  35. Fisher, James P.; Phoenix, Gareth K.; Childs, Dylan Z.; Press, Malcolm C.; Smith, Stuart W.; Pilkington, Michael G.; Cameron, Duncan D. (April 2013). "Parasitic plant litter input: a novel indirect mechanism influencing plant community structure". New Phytologist. 198 (1): 222–231. doi:10.1111/nph.12144. PMID   23356534.
  36. Massey, Fergus P.; Massey, Kate; Press, Malcolm C.; Hartley, Sue E. (24 March 2006). "Neighbourhood composition determines growth, architecture and herbivory in tropical rain forest tree seedlings: Neighbourhood effects on S. leprosula". Journal of Ecology. 94 (3): 646–655. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2006.01127.x .
  37. Bagchi, Robert; Press, Malcolm C.; Scholes, Julie D. (January 2010). "Evolutionary history and distance dependence control survival of dipterocarp seedlings". Ecology Letters. 13 (1): 51–59. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01397.x. PMID   19849708.
  38. Bagchi, Robert; Philipson, Christopher D.; Slade, Eleanor M.; Hector, Andy; Phillips, Sam; Villanueva, Jerome F.; Lewis, Owen T.; Lyal, Christopher H. C.; Nilus, Reuben; Madran, Adzley; Scholes, Julie D. (27 November 2011). "Impacts of logging on density-dependent predation of dipterocarp seeds in a South East Asian rainforest". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 366 (1582): 3246–3255. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0034. ISSN   0962-8436. PMC   3179629 . PMID   22006965.
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Brooks
Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University