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Jennie Brierley

Staff picture: Jennie Brierley
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Potato Pathologist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK


Senior researcher in potato pathology and diagnostics



Current research interests

My main research interests are developing the use of molecular diagnostic techniques for the detection and quantification of seed and soil-borne potato pathogens: both as a research tool to investigate the epidemiology of potato pathogens, and in supporting the management of potatoes by quantifying disease risk. By employing appropriate sampling strategies in conjunction with DNA extraction and molecular real-time PCR techniques to detect and quantify target pathogens we can validate the relationship between detectable inoculum and disease risk. Furthermore, the impact of soil-borne inoculum on disease can be investigated in conjunction with other control factors such as host resistance, crop management and chemical control options. Much of my research has been collaborative, both within the UK and internationally. Research targets have been Spongospora subterranea (powdery scab); Colletotrichum coccodes (black dot); Rhizoctonia solani AG-3 (black scurf/stem canker); Helminthosporium solani (silver scurf) and pathogenic Streptomyces spp. (common scab).

At present I am focusing on the effect of crop management practices, in particular how soil organic matter content effects the introduction and persistence of pathogens through a crop rotation. This research utilizes the Centre for Sustainable Cropping: a long-term platform for research on arable sustainability.

I am the research deliverable leader for Scottish Government RESAS workpackage RD2.1.5 "in-field detection". The aim is to improve detection of economically important pests/pathogens/diseases affecting key Scottish crops to improve decision making for growers and control recommendations leading to improved disease control.

I am a key staff member leading Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPM) research at The James Hutton Institute. For details of ongoing IPM research areas and projects, please visit the IPM@Hutton website

I am a Postgraduate liaison officer and member of the Postgraduate Stundentship Committee.





Past research

  • Scottish Crop Research Institute (2001)
    Epidemiological studies into the bacterial soft rot disease of potatoes Erwinia carotovora spp. Atroseptica (black leg).
  • Cambridge University Farm (1998-2001)
    Experimental field trials investigating a range of agronomic factors affecting the size distribution of tubers in potato crops.
  • Rothamsted Research (1997-1998)
    Investigating the use of SPAD meters for diagnosing the nitrogen status of wheat.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, KEW, Seed Conservation Section (1995-1997)
    Seed physiology of seagrass species.


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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.