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international development

Scotland-India research collaboration delivers clean water for primary schools (News)

Primary school students will benefit from wastewater treatment and clean water at their school in India thanks to a joint project led by the James Hutton Institute and funded by the Scottish Government. While visiting India, Sco ... Read more

Understanding agricultural sustainability in the highlands of Borneo (News)

For generations, rice has been a key crop for the Kelabit people who populate the highlands of Malaysian Borneo – so much so that the slow-growing variety grown in the area shares a name with the region and its main town, Ba ... Read more

Quikgro: developing potato varieties suited to sub-Saharan conditions (News)

Potato is a key food and cash crop contributing both to food security and the local economy in Kenya, Malawi and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists from the James Hutton Institute in collaboration with the University of S ... Read more

Scottish potato expertise supporting root, tuber and banana breeders in Africa (News)

Scientists from the James Hutton Institute are taking part in an international research effort aimed at pinpointing the quality traits that determine the adoption of new root, tuber and banana (RTB) varieties of cassava, yam, swee ... Read more

Hutton expertise supporting Scotland-India links (News)

Scientists from the James Hutton Institute took part in the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation delegation in support of a visit by Scotland's Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, to India from the 4th to the 7th of D ... Read more

Open-source software tools released to accelerate plant breeding in developing countries (News)

Crop breeders in developing countries can now access free tools to accelerate the breeding of better crops varieties, thanks to a collaboration between the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, the GOBII project at Cornell Univ ... Read more

Scottish and Kenyan potato experts strengthen collaborative links (News)

Scientists, plant health officials, representatives from farmers’ organisations and potato growers from Scotland and Kenya participated in a workshop held in Nairobi to discuss findings from BBSRC and Scottish Government fun ... Read more

CREW and James Hutton Limited to explore prospects of India-UK collaboration at TECH Summit (News)

Representatives from James Hutton Limited, the James Hutton Institute’s commercial subsidiary, and the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) are to take part in the TECH Summit 2016, which will see thought leaders, businesse ... Read more

New Hydro Nation International Fellows Programme launched in India (News)

As part of the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation International Programme, which promotes Scotland’s response to key global water challenges, The Scottish Government and The Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) have a ... Read more

Genomics, Gene Discovery and Genome Editing in Crops (Event)

Diverse climatic and geographical zones in Peru are home to a great variety of crops (e.g., potatoes, quinoa, asparagus, and coffee). Recent advances in genomics and biotechnology offer great potential to address biotic and abioti ... Read more

MAJI: More Action for Just Initiatives for Climate Change Adaptation in Southern Africa (Project)

The James Hutton Institute helps to support effective and equitable water management that will be sustainable in the long-term (and in the face of climate change), through its role in supporting a VSO-led project called “&qu ... Read more

Slovenian researchers visit to discuss CropSustaIn progress (News)

Researchers from the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia (AIS) visited the James Hutton Institute as part of the CropSustaIn project, which looks into alternatives for sustainable crop production in Slovenia in the face of global c ... Read more

Scottish research helps tackle global and local agricultural challenges (News)

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute have endorsed and repeated the view of this week’s high-profile Development Dialogues conference in New York that work to ‘climate-proof’ agriculture lies at the core of ... Read more

Poisoned Arrows on target for success (News)

Drama, history and botany are cleverly interwoven in Poisoned Arrows, a new ambitious production to mark the bicentenary of famous Scots explorer David Livingstone. On Saturday and Sunday 26 and 27 October 2013, the Royal Botani ... Read more

Poisoned Arrows (Event)

Members of the public are being invited to join a mission to find John Kirk, Livingstone’s botanist, and meet African storytellers along the way sharing tales of useful plants, wild drugs, food and magic. Find out what has ... Read more

Aberdeen scientist with avid following in Nepal (News)

An Aberdeen-based water scientist has gained himself a readership of more than 300,000 people across Asia and the world. However Sohan Ghimire, who works at the James Hutton Institute, is not a fiction writer on the bestseller lis ... Read more

Scottish researchers keep Malawi links alive (News)

Scotland’s links with Malawi, first forged almost 200 years ago by the explorer and missionary David Livingstone, are being kept alive through environmental projects involving Scottish researchers and communities in the Afri ... Read more

Community-based Management of Environmental challenges in Latin America (Research Page)

COMET-LA was a project coordinated by the University of Cordoba and funded under the European Commission Framework Programme 7. The acronym stands for “COmmunity-based Management of EnvironmenTal challenges in Latin America& ... Read more

Director of Science
Director of Science
Lesley.Torrance@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Invergowrie
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK

 

Lesley is Director of Science at the James Hutton Institute and Professor of Biology at the University of St Andrews. She was President of the British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) in 2014.

Current research interests

Molecular biology of plant virus-host and virus-vector interactions

Aims: To understand the role and function of virus encoded proteins and their interactions in the pathogenicity and spread of plant virus diseases.

Background: Potato is an important crop in Scotland with around about 1.3 million tonnes of potatoes produced and 76,000 tonnes of seed exported to over 30 countries (outside the EU). Pests and diseases are a major constraint to the industry causing economic losses by decreased tuber yield and quality, and rejection of exports.

Soil-borne potato mop-top virus (PMTV) and aphid transmitted potyviruses (principally PVY) are economically important problems in potato seed crops that are difficult to control. No sources of resistance to PMTV have been identified in Solanum tuberosum and there are no reliable methods to control the spread of PMTV by the soil-borne plasmodiophorid vector Spongospora subterranea (that also causes powdery scab disease on potato tubers).

In addition, the application of insecticides to control the spread of aphid-borne potato potyviruses such as PVY is not effective. It is expected that aphid populations may build up earlier in the season and aphid-borne virus spread may increase because of the warmer temperatures predicted with environmental change.

Studying the molecular interactions between virus-host and virus-vector will provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of virus transmission and host resistance. The practical outputs of the work will be to identify new sources of resistance and more effective methods of disease control.

Current focus: Investigating a novel resistance to PVY (and other potyviruses) that we have discovered in Solanum tuberosum Group Phureja germplasm; the effect of heat stress on virus resistance and the molecular basis of mature plant resistance in potato.

Studies on the localisation and function of PMTV TGB movement proteins have revealed that PMTV infection includes a nuclear/nucleolar phase important for long distance movement in the vascular system and that the movement protein TGB1 determines nucleolar targeting and we are investigating a host factor that mediates nuclear association. In vitro culture of potato 'hairy root' systems have been established to investigate the molecular mechanism of vector transmission of PMTV.

Other research in the lab concerns working with partners in Africa to improve seed potato production systems and collaboration with Ziejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences on soil-borne viruses.

News

Potato research meeting in Kenya

A meeting funded by a BBSRC GCRF Impact accelerator accounts award to the University of St Andrews was held in Nairobi on 11 November. The meeting highlighted recent research findings from predominantly BBSRC and RESAS funded research on virus resistance, heat tolerance and early maturity conducted by Mark Taylor, Lesley Torrance, Alison Roberts, Glenn Bryan and colleagues.

Delegates also heard about potato varieties suited to Kenyan growing conditions including varieties developed by James Hutton Ltd in collaborative breeding contracts. The meeting allowed networking of researchers, plant health officials, potato growers and industry with discussions on the needs of Kenyan potato farmers.

New collaboration

 

NSF/BBSRC Project on The spatial epidemiology of a vector-borne plant virus (PVY) with partners in USA led by Professor A Power, University of Cornell.

New developments

Mayan Gold potatoesThe potato cultivar Mayan Gold has passed national Perfomance Trials in Kenya and is approved for distribution to farmers. Mayan Gold has excellent properties that are beneficial for small holder rural farmers including PVY resistance, fast cooking time, good fry quality and good taste.

Our paper on distribution of pests and diseases in Kenyan potato growing regions has been published in Potato Research: Occurrence and distribution of potato pests and diseases in Kenya.

Strengthening Potato Production in SSA; Malawi and Kenya

Potato field trial at Bvumbwe Research StationMalawi: Working with partners Paul Demo, CIP potato seed specialist, Malawi and Felistus Chipungu, Department Agriculture Research Services, Bvumbwe Research Station.

This Scottish Government supported project aims to contribute to poverty reduction and food security through strengthening the development of sustainable potato production and marketing systems for improved productivity and trade. The main achievements to date are in renovation and upgrading facilities for mini tuber production, the introduction and evaluation of new cultivars and capacity building.

Field training in testing for bacterial wilt in MalawiIn collaboration with DARS, CIP and SASA, Edinburgh we delivered a training course in seed potato crop inspection, disease identification, and diagnostic in Dedza District of Malawi, 13–16 March 2012. Lesley Torrance and two senior potato seed inspectors (John Ellicott and Maureen McCreath) travelled from Scotland to Malawi for the training.

The course had 37 trainees from different organisations in Malawi involved in seed quality control, seed production, or in backstopping farmers. We conducted classroom and field work and surveyed local farmers’ fields. This year was a bad one for late blight with many crops destroyed or badly affected. Potato crops were also affected by PVY and bacterial wilt. We found recombinant strains of PVY in potato crops.

Scottish Government Funded Potato Project, Training Course, Near Dedza Pottery, Malawi, March 2012 from eric monaghan on Vimeo.

Kenya: The project is supported by The Monsanto Fund and we are working with partners Dr Hassan Were (Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kakamega), Dr J. Kabira, KARI Tigoni and Professor F. Olubayo (University of Nairobi).

The main outcomes of this project are:

  • A comprehensive pest and disease survey in all five major potato producing areas in Kenya.
  • Identification of areas of low aphid pressure for seed tuber multiplication.
  • Introduction of tissue culture microplants of 12 cultivars with different agronomic qualities to KARI Tigoni who have bulked up the material.

Vales Sovereign potatoes sent to KenyaAll introduced cultivars are growing well in the region. Sufficient material of three cultivars has been submitted for National Performance Trials and we are collaborating with the Kenyan National Potato Council to disseminate information and demonstrate the qualities of the new material in field trials.

Bibliography

  • Were, H. K.; Olubayo, F.M.; Kabira, J.; Aura, J.; Torrance, L., (2015) Aphids infesting potato in Kenya., In: Low, J., Nyongesa, M., Quinn, S. & Parker, M. (eds.). Potato and Sweetpotato in Africa: Transforming the Value Chains for Food and Nutrition Security. CAB International, Chapter 38, 396-404.
  • Tilsner, J.; Taliansky, M.E.; Torrance, L., (2014) Plant virus movement., In: Harper, D. (ed.). eLS, Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, A20711.
  • Al-Mrabeh, A.; Anderson, E.A.; Torrance, L.; Evans, A.; Fenton, B., (2010) A literature review of insecticide and mineral oil use in preventing the spread of non-persistent viruses in potato crops., The Potato Council Ltd., Stoneleigh, 65pp.
  • Haupt, S.; Ziegler, A.; Cowan, G.H.; Torrance, L., (2009) Studies of the role and function of Barley stripe mosaic virus encoded proteins in replication and movement using GFP fusions., In: Hicks, B.W. (ed.). Viral Applications of Green Fluorescent Protein. Methods in Molecular Biology Volume 515. Springer, Berlin, Germany, Chapter 20, 287-297.
  • Torrance, L., (2008) Pomovirus., In: Mahy, W.J. & van Regenmortel, M. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Virology. 3rd edition. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 282-287
  • Taliansky, M.E.; Torrance, L., (2008) Plant virus movement., In: Harper, D. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, A20711
  • Taliansky, M.E.; Torrance, L.; Kalinina, N.O., (2008) Role of plant virus movement proteins., In: Foster, G.D., Hong, G., Johansen, I.E. & Nagy, P.D. (eds.). Plant Virology Protocols: From Viral Sequence to Protein Function. 2nd edition. Humana Press, Totowa, New Jersey, pp33-54.
  • Haupt, S.; Ziegler, A.; Torrance, L., (2008) Localisation of viral proteins in plant cells: protein tagging., In: Foster, G.D., Johansen, I.E., Hong, Y. & Nagy, P.D. (eds.). Plant Virology Protocols: From Viral Sequence to Protein Function. 2nd edition. Humana Press, Totowa, New Jersey, pp463-473.
  • Torrance, L.; Koenig, R., (2004) Furovirus., In: Fauquet, C.M., Mayo, M.A., Maniloff, J., Desselberger, U. & Ball, L.A. (eds.). Virus Taxonomy, Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp1027-1032.
  • Torrance, L., (2004) Antibody and nucleic acid based techniques., In: Lapierre, H. & Signoret, P. (eds.). Virus diseases of Poaceae (Gramineae). INRA Editions, Paris, pp99-108.
  • Torrance, L., (2000) Genus Furovirus., In: Van Regenmortel, M.H.V., Fauquet, C. & Bishop, D.H.L (eds.). Virus Taxonomy, Seventh report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Harcourt International, pp904-908.
  • Harper, K.; Toth, R.L.; Mayo, M.; Torrance, L., (1999) Selection of anti-plant virus single chain variable fragments from phage display libraries., In: Ziegler, A. & Harper, K. (eds.). Recombinant antibodies-applications in plant science and plant pathology. Taylor & Francis, pp37-55.
  • D'Arcy, C.J.; Domier, L.L.; Torrance, L., (1999) Detection and diagnosis of luteoviruses., CABI Publishing, Wallingford.
  • Torrance, L., (1999) Pomoviruses (Pomovirus) 327., In: Webster, R.G. & Granoff, A. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Virology. Second Edition, Academic Press, pp1361-1364.
  • Reavy, B.; Arif, M.; Torrance, L., (1998) Early detection of the fungus-transmitted virus, Potato mop-top virus.., In: Manceau, C. & Spak, J. (eds.). Advances in the Detection of Plant Pathogens by Polymerase Chain Reaction. Proceedings COST 823 Meeting, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic 1996, pp17-21.
  • Barker, H.; Torrance, L., (1997) Importance of Biotechnology for Germplasm Health and Quarantine., CAB International
  • Torrance, L., (1997) Developments in serological methods to detect and identify plant viruses., Kluwer Academic Publishers, London.

  • Taliansky, M.E.; Shaw, J.; Torrance, L., (2011) Role of the nucleolus in plant virus pathogenicity., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2010, pp42-43.
  • Torrance, L.; Toth, I.K.; Cooke, D.E.L.; Fenton, B.; Blok, V.C.; Lees, A.K., (2010) Risks of new or emerging pests and pathogens posed by environmental change., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2009, pp14-17.
  • Torrance, L., (2009) Plant pathology., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2008, pp27-31.
  • Torrance, L.; Cowan, G.H.; Haupt, S.; Ziegler, A., (2003) The role of Potato mop-top virus proteins in intracellular movement., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2002/2003, pp104-105.
  • Machray, G.C.; Brown, J.W.S.; Oparka, K.J.; Torrance, L., (2002) Mechanisms and Processes., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2001/2002, pp101-104.
  • Ziegler, A.; Reavy, B.; Cowan, G.H.; Mayo, M.A.; Torrance, L., (2000) Heterologous expression systems for the production of functional antibody fragments., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1998/99, pp139-141.
  • Torrance, L.; Ziegler, A.; Mayo, M.A.; Toth, I.K.; Blok, V.C.; Duncan, J.M., (2000) New technologies for the detection and identification of pathogens, pests and environmental pollutants.., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1999/2000, pp51-54.
  • Torrance, L.; Ziegler, A.; Harper, K.; Mayo, M.A., (1998) Engineered antibodies: readily adaptable tools for basic and applied research.., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1997/98, pp111-113.
  • Torrance, L.; Robinson, D.J., (1998) Tobacco rattle and potato mop-top viruses: the causes of spraing disease in potato tubers.,

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social Researcher
kerry.waylen@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)1224 395313

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

Current research interests

Kerry's main ongoing research projects

Her research is motivated by the following research questions:

  • When might it make sense to adopt new concepts and instruments for environmental management? How can we best understand the challenges and consequences of implementing such new concepts, especially those (such as the 'Ecosystem Approach') that encourage a systemic approach to connect multiple issues?
  • How are different knowledges produced and used in collaboration and decision-making for environmental management? If and how do concepts (such as ecosystem services) or tools (such as scenario-planning) influence processes of knowledge co-production, including in science-policy interfaces?
  • How can we better enable stakeholder participation in environmental management, including Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) ?  What are the social and environmental consequences of doing so?

Kerry's expertise includes the following skills for carrying out, managing and communicating research:

  • Qualitative research methods e.g. semi-structured interviews, participant observation, Rapid Rural Appraisal, qualitative thematic analysis using both inductive and deductive approaches.
  • Quantitative research methods e.g. design, deployment and quantiative analysis of paper and online surveys for primary data collection, design and deplyment of systematic reviews and meta-analyses to identify and analyse secondary data
  • Extensive experience in leading design and facilitation of workshops for knowledge exchange and/or research data collection.
  • Skilled in engaging and communicating with varied audiences using varied methods, from short written briefings, longer reports and academic papers, through to videos, oral presentations and blog posts.
  • Expertise in research project management, line management, student supervision, and research ethics.

Kerry currently co-supervises 2 PhD students: Sam Poskitt, who is exploring the potential of scenario-planning to support learning for sustainable development, with Dr Andrew Ainslie at the University of Reading; and Kirsty Holstead, who is building understanding of community water governance, with Dr Shona Russell at the University of St Andrews.

Kerry is a trustee of the Orskov Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports students and communities to develop sustainable land use to support livelihoods in lower-income countries. She is also a research associate of CECHR, the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at Dundee.   Within the Institute, Kerry is leader of the 'Society Institutions and Governance' sub-group of SEGS, and she also founded the SEGS blog.

Past research

Exploring institutional constraints to adopting more systemic and/or participatory approaches to environmental management:

  • She jointly led research with Kirsty Blackstock to understand the potential and challanges of implementing the Ecosystem Approach, funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016.  Click here to visit the webpage of the Ecosystem Approach Review. This work also relates to the ideas of exploring the challenges multi-level governance as noted above, and of communication as noted below.

Analysing processes of knowledge co-production relating to environmental management:

  • Kerry co-led WP2 for the FP7 project ‘SPIRAL’ (Science Policy Interfaces for Research Action and Learning, for biodiversity) Visit the Project website to find out more about this project, and see the EPC paper and Biodiversity and Conservation paper in the list below for academic outputs she led on.
  • Kerry helped design the ESPPI:CREW project, which aims to monitor and evaluate science-policy and practice links for the Scottish Centre of Expertise in Waters, which has been operating since 2011.  She was also involved in CATCH II – which aimed to try to better connect policy, practitioners working in and for integrated catchment management.

Understanding and tackling the challenges faced by conservation initiatives in the 'Global South':

  • COMET-LA was a EU FP7 project on the Community-based Management of Environmental Challenges in Latin America, that ran 2012-2015.  Kerry was part of a small team exploring if and how scenario-planning can assist communities in Latin America to identify and develop sustainable community-based management for their natural resources in the face of climate change and increased competition for the use of natural resources. Visit our short animated youtube video on scenario-planning for more information about what this concept can offer.
  • Since December 2012 Kerry has supported work in Malawi to support villages and district-level planning for integrated natural resource management.  She has provided expertise to two projects lead by VSO.  The first project called "Water Futures: Towards Equitable Resource Strategies" aimed to improve the resilience of Malawian water management, whilst from late 2014 the second project 'MAJI' focuses on how to take account of climate change.  Kerry, together with Julia Martin-Ortega, provides expertise on community engagement on topics of ecosystem services and for co-constructing scenarios of future change.
  • Kerry’s past PhD work at Imperial College London (2006-2009) focused on understanding social factors linked to success in community-based conservation projects, involving fieldwork in Nepal and Kalmykia, Russia, as well as a systematic review of the factors affecting ‘success’ in developing-country community-based conservation projects. The thesis can be downloaded from the Imperial College Conservation Science website.

Prior to working at the James Hutton Institute Kerry's PhD research, carried out at Imperial College London, examined how the combination of individual views, culture and local institutions could significantly influence the outcomes of community-based conservation in developing countries.  In addition to policy-relevant work with NGOs, her prior academic experience included social research into attitudes towards nature resources in Trinidad, as part of an MSc from Imperial College. Her first degree is a MA in Natural Sciences, from Cambridge University.

Bibliography

  • Young, J.; Waylen, K.A.; van den Hove, S.; Watt, A., (2016) SPIRAL Improving science-policy interfaces for biodiversity., In: Martinuzzi, A. & Sedlacko, M. (eds.). Knowledge Brokerage for Sustainable Development. Innovative Tools for Increasing Research Impact and Evidence-Based Policy-Making. Greenleaf Publishing, Saltaire, UK, pp275-290.
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Waylen, K.A., (2016) Delivering ecosystem services at a national scale: institutions and governance., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp18-19.
  • Waylen, K.A.; Blackstock, K.L., (2016) Concepts: 'Eco' terminology., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp4-5.
  • Waylen, K.A.; Gearey, B.R.; Blackstock, K.L., (2016) Peatlands and cultural ecosystem services., In: Bonn, A., Allott, T., Evans, M., Joosten, H. & Stoneman, R. (eds.). Peatland Restoration for Ecosystem Services. Ecological Reviews Series, British Ecological Society, Cambridge University Press, Chapter 7, pp114-128.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.