Dr Jassy Drakulic

Jassy’s research concentrates on honey fungus, developing tests to diagnose the disease and understanding the interactions between different honey fungus species

What do you do?

I’m a Plant Pathologist researching the biology and management of honey fungus in UK gardens. My previous specialist area was the interactions between wheat pests and pathogens. In 2017, I launched the nationwide Honey Fungus Hunt – asking members of the public to record sightings of honey fungus mushrooms. The survey received 170 responses, of which 113 were confirmed to be honey fungus. The results from the survey can be found on the honey fungus hunt project page and are being used to inform the direction of future research.

I am also project lead for the RHS in the HOMED (Holistic Management of Emerging forest pests & Diseases) EU Horizon 2020 project.

I also support RHS Gardening Advice, diagnosing plant diseases and providing advice on managing diseases on gardens.

“Honey fungus is a difficult disease to manage. I hope to find new control measures and educate gardeners about the options available to manage a garden where honey fungus is present.”

Why is your team’s research important?

Honey fungus is a plant killer without a cure. It is not picky about the plants it kills – hedgerows, trees, climbers, shrubs and fruit crops can all be lost to this disease.
RHS Gardening Advice diagnoses the disease more often than any other but we have gaps in our understanding about the biology of the fungus and how it can be controlled.
My work seeks to discover how different species of honey fungus live and infect plants in UK gardens. I am working to create more accurate disease diagnosis and tailored management advice. Much of our current understanding of the disease comes from studies on forests, so it is important to verify the aspects that hold true for gardens and whether we should approach disease management in the same way.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Characterising the dispersal mechanisms and variation of honey fungus populations (in collaboration with University of California, Davis)
  • Developing reliable tools to study honey fungus in collaboration with Bartlett’s Tree Experts, University of Reading and University of Bristol
  • HOMED: Holistic Management of Emerging forest pests and Diseases
  • Improving disease management advice for gardens with honey fungus infections
  • I also coordinate the RHS Plant Health Undergraduate Summer Studentship programme

Completed projects

  • RHS Honey Fungus Hunt (2017–18)
  • Identifying the cause of UK box blight outbreaks over the last 20 years


  • I was selected to present the RHS honey fungus research at the International Congress of Plant Pathology in 2018 and at the Congress of European Mycologists in Warsaw and Białowieża in 2019
  • I was awarded a BSPP Senior Fellowship (2019–20) and an RHS Coke Trust Bursary to fund a 3-month research trip to University of California, working with Dr Kendra Baumgartner on honey fungus population genetics


PhD Students

  • Co-supervisor to Helen Rees who is researching, Investigating the use of Trichoderma endophytes for protection against honey fungus, at University of Bristol
  • Co-supervisor of Morgan Millen who is studying Trichoderma endophytes as protectants against Armillaria root rot, at the University of Bristol

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