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David Roberts

Staff picture: David Roberts
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Research Scientist
+44 (0)1382 568700

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK


Current research interests

Strategies for quantifying and controlling free-living nematode populations and consequent damage by Tobacco Rattle Virus to improve potato yield and growth - funded by the Technology Strategy Board, (Began January 2011, 5 year project) this multi-partner collaboration combining the expertise of industry with colleagues at The James Hutton Institute (Roy Neilson, Vivian Blok and Finlay Dale) and SAC (Andy Evans) aims to address concerns in the UK potato industry related to the impending withdrawal of approved nematicides and long-term concerns regarding the effects of climate change on free-living nematode populations. The project aims to develop a rapid molecular pre-plant molecular test for the target nematodes of concern, assess damage threshold levels of nematodes on current potato cultivars, identify potential alternative control strategies and develop molecular markers to facilitate the breeding of new potato cultivars resistant to Tobacco Rattle Virus.

Invasive New Zealand flatworm study. We are utilising a large historical collection of invasive flatworms held at The James Hutton Institute in combination with new samples sent in by the public to investigate any changes in the flatworm genome that could be indicative of adaptation to our climate (With Roy Neilson and Brian Boag).

Prevalence study of Pratylenchus species. Utilising samples brought in for other projects we are studying the prevalence and distribution of Pratylenchus species in Scottish potato-growing fields using a combination of taxonomy, species-specific PCR and sequence analysis. 

Past research

  • 2011- current Post Doctoral Research. Ecological Sciences, The James Hutton Institute, Dundee.  Strategies for quantifying and controlling free-living nematode populations and consequent damage by Tobacco Rattle Virus to improve potato yield and growth - funded by the Technology Strategy Board.
  • 2005 –2010 Post Doctoral Research fellow/Lab manager
    Environment Plant Interactions, SCRI
    Development of molecular diagnostic assay.  Environmental monitoring using high-throughput molecular approaches. Primarily focusing on analysing water samples for biological quality compared to existing indices. No details can be given for reasons of commercial protection.  Project led to formation of EnPrint.
  • 1999–2003 Post Doctoral Research Fellow
    Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Aberdeen
    Evolution and ecology of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli.
  • 1997-1999 Project leader/Post Doctoral Researcher
    National Diagnostics Centre, University College Galway
    Development of rapid diagnostic aids for human pathogenic fungi.
  • 1996-1997 Research Officer, Kings College London.
  • BSc (Hons) and PhD - Kings College London.


  • Roberts, D.M.; Oliveira, C.M.G.; Neilson, R.; Blok, V.C. (2016) Molecular diagnostics of plant-parasitic nematodes., In: Oliveira, C.M.G., dos Santos, M.A. & e Castro, L.H.S. (eds.). Diagnose de Fitonematoides. Millennium Editora Ltda, Campinas, Brazil, pp281-324.

  • Neilson, R.; Roberts, D.; Loades, K. (2019) Project 102272 SoilBio - Assessment of SOIL quality using a BIOindicator - Period 1 report., Confidential Consortium Report of activities for Period 1of SoilBio, submitted to Innovate UK.
  • Neilson, R.; Roberts, D.M. (2012) Strategies for quantifying and controlling free living nematode populations and consequent damage by tobacco rattle virus to improve potato yield and quality., Interim Report for 2011 to Potato Council, AHDB and TSB.

  • Neilson, R.; Roberts, D.M.; Loades, K.W.; Lozana, A.; Daniell, T. (2018) Healthy soils for crop production., Crop Protection in Northern Britain 2018: The Dundee Conference, Environmental Management and Crop Production, Apex City Quay Hotel, Dundee, 27-28 February 2018. Conference Proceedings, 17-20.
  • Roberts, D.M.; Rodenhurst, M.; Otter, J.; Dale, M.F.B.; Blok, V.C.; Neilson, R. (2012) Identifying free living nematode populations., Proceedings Crop Protection in Northern Britain 2012, Dundee, 28-29 February 2012.
  • Roberts, D.; Daniell, T.J. (2007) Are molecular tools useful for environmental monitoring?, British Phycological Society, Bristol, 3-5 January 2007.

Printed from /staff/david-roberts on 09/12/22 12:07:48 AM

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.