Professor Matthew Tinsley


Biological and Environmental Sciences University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Professor Matthew Tinsley

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About me

About me

Professor of Evolutionary Ecology studying host-parasite systems.

I am keen to support PhD candidates to apply through funding schemes such as the NERC-IAPETUS DTP, Commonwealth Scholarships, Carnegie Trust etc.


PhD - University of Cambridge (2003)

BA - University of Cambridge (1999)

Research Activities

My research focuses predominantly on host-parasite evolutionary ecology, it spans controlled laboratory systems, through to natural field ecology. Most of my work studies insects, but I also investigate other invertebrates , as well as amphibians. The majority of the work in our lab group currently centres on the immunological and evolutionary interactions between fungal pathogens and insect hosts. The fungal pathogens we focus on are used as biopesticides in environmentally sustainable crop protection, whilst most of our insect work is now focussed on agricultural pests.

Research (6)

Key topics:

Immune system evolution, Drosophila, entomopathogenic fungi, genetic variation in pathogen defence, host-parasite coevolution, senescence, bumblebee ecology, insect sex ratios, ladybirds, invasive species, ecological impacts of ionizing radiation, sustainable crop pest control with biopesticides.

You can find out more about our biopesticide work here:

And our horticultural whitefly work here:

Lab members:

Jess Burrows is a PhD student studying the effects of ionizing radiation on immune defence in bumblebees. Co-supervised by Nick Beresford (CEH) and David Copplestone.

Rosie Mangan is a post-doc funded by BBSRC investigating novel methods of pest control using entomopathogenic fungi to combat insecticide resistance evolution.

Danielle Mackenzie: after doing a PhD in the lab some time ago Danielle has now returned to work as a BBSRC-funded post-doc working on the genetic basis of resistance evolution in crop pests to fungal bio-insecticides and the impacts of biopesticides on beneficial insects.

Lucy Nevard is a post-doc funded by AHDB-BBSRC currently undertaking a meta-analysis of the effects of coinfection as part of our project "Assessing the impacts of tank-mixing on biopesticide efficacy".

Mia Graham worked as a technician funded by our BBSRC project "Assessing the market potential of a novel resistance management framework for fungal biopesticides in UK glasshouse horticulture" during 2019-2020 and then successfully won a NERC PhD studentship in 2020 to continue related whitefly-biopesticide work.

Rose McKeon was an undergraduate at Stirling, during which time she worked with our group in a number of roles supporting research work on biopesticide resistance and farmer-acceptance of biopesticide products. She then won a NERC PhD studentship in 2020 to investigate the evolution of resistance to biopesticides in insect pests. Co-supervised by Luc Bussiere and by Mike Ritchie & Carolin Kosiol (St Andrews).


Surya Senthilkumar was a visiting postdoctoral fellow funded by DAIC in India. Her work focussed on climate change impacts of biopesticide efficacy and onward transmission.

Jim Neate did a masters at Harper Adams before he joined us as a technician to work on our BBSRC ENDORSE project for which he maintained our insect cultures and conducted work on the potential impacts of biopesticides on beneficial insects. He moved on to work with Oxitec in Oxford on sustainable pest control strategies.

Hadyn Murray worked with our team after a masters in Glasgow; he worked as a technician supporting our work on the determinants of biopesticide virulence. He moved on to work as an Environmental Consultant in the central belt of scotland.

Arianna Chiti completed a BSc degree at Stirling University followed by an MRes at Swansea; she worked with us as a technician in support of our work mapping the genetic basis of fungal biopesticide resistance. Arianna has now gone on to study for a PhD in Stirling on parasitoid wasp evolutionary ecology with Dr Becky Boulton.

Marcelo Muller joined our lab group from December 2020 till July 2021 on a BEPE FAPESP postdoctoral fellowship on secondment from Brazil. His work investigated the linkages between feeding behaviour and biopesticide resistance in Helicoverpa armigera.

Ester Ferrari worked with us a technician on our BBSRC-funded ENDORSE project from 2019-2021. She has now moved to a permanent post in Ireland at TEAGASC - The Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Horticultural Development Unit.

Kat Raines finished her PhD in 2018 studying the impact of radiological contamination on bumblebees, work that is centred on the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Kat moved on to work as a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow based at Stirling and then to continue related work with Radioactive Waste Management.

Katie Murray finished her PhD in 2018. She studied the ecology of parasitism in the invasive harlequin ladybird. She is now a Scottish Government statistician.

Craig Anderson was a post-doc investigating the impact of chronic radiation exposure in the Chernobyl exclusion zone on the evolution of Drosophila melanogaster. He is now a research fellow at the MRC Human Gentics Unit, University of Edinburgh.

Marco Kubiak finished his MPhil thesis in 2017 studying immune senescence in Drosophila. In 2020 he successfully won a PhD studentship to study at Cardiff University

Jess Scriven finished her PhD in 2016 investigating the comparative ecology of closely related cryptic bumblebee species, she is now a statistician for the Scottish Government.

Sumayia Bashir finished her PhD in 2014. She used Drosophila to study interactions between immune defence, metabolism and mitochondrial function.

Danielle Mackenzie  finished her PhD in 2014 investigating the mechanisms of immune senescence in Drosophila.

Penelope Whitehorn finished her PhD in 2011, which focused on the impact of inbreeding on bumblebees and which I co-supervised. Penelope spent some time as a post doc fellow at Stirling investigating the negative effects of insecticides on non-target insects and is now carrying on this work at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

Andy Dobson is a post-doc who was worked alongside my group for a number of years as an independent research fellow. Amongst other topics, he researches the ecology of tick populations as vectors for Lyme disease and other infections of humans and wildlife; he is now based at Edinburgh University.


Enhancing Diversity to Overcome Resistance Evolution
PI: Professor Matthew Tinsley
Funded by: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

BIOMIX: Assessing the impacts of tank-mixing on biopesticide efficacy
PI: Professor Matthew Tinsley
Funded by: Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)

Assessing the market potential of a novel resistance management framework for fungal biopesticides in the UK glasshouse horticulture sector
PI: Professor Matthew Tinsley
Funded by: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

PI: Professor David Copplestone
Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council

The Immune System and Senescence: Why do we age?
PI: Professor Matthew Tinsley
Funded by: Royal Society

Reproductive Ecology of Arctic Insects
PI: Professor Matthew Tinsley
Funded by: The Carnegie Trust

Outputs (41)



Beresford NA, Horemans N, Copplestone D, Raines KE, Orizaola G, Wood MD, Laanen P, Whitehead HC, Burrows JE, Tinsley MC, Smith JT, Bonzom J, Gagnaire B, Adam-Guillermin C & Gashchak S (2020) Towards solving a scientific controversy - The effects of ionising radiation on the environment. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 211, Art. No.: 106033.


Dobson A, Auld S & Tinsley MC (2015) Insufficient evidence of infection-induced phototactic behaviour in Spodoptera exigua: a comment on van Houte et al. (2014). Commentary on: van Houte S, van Oers MM, Han Y, Vlak JM, Ros VID. 2014 Baculovirus infection triggers a positive phototactic response in caterpillars to induce ‘treetop’ disease. Biol. Lett. 10, 20140680. (doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0680). Biology Letters, 11, Art. No.: 20150132.;


Bussiere L, Tinsley MC & Laugen A (2013) Female preferences for facial masculinity are probably not adaptations for securing good immunocompetence genes. Commentary on: Scott IML, Clark AP, Boothroyd LG, Penton-Voak IS. 2012. Do men’s faces really signal heritable immunocompetence? Behav Ecol. 24:579–589.. Behavioral Ecology, 24 (3), pp. 593-594.


Whitehorn PR, Tinsley MC & Goulson D (2009) Kin recognition and inbreeding reluctance in bumblebees [Reconnaissance de la parentèle et mécanismes pour éviter la consanguinité chez les bourdons; Verwandtschaftserkennung und Inzuchtvermeidung bei Hummeln]. Apidologie, 40 (6), pp. 627-633.