Ian obtained his PhD from Warwick University in 1991 on potato blackleg disease, and has since worked on plant diseases in agriculture, forestry and horticulture, as well as with soil microbes and microbial biotechnology, the latter with Novo Nordisk in Denmark. He has been undertaking plant health research at the James Hutton Institute (formerly Scottish Crop Research Institute) in Dundee for over 20 years focussing his efforts on both strategic and applied research, bringing him into regular contact with Scottish Government, industry and the public to whom he regularly presents his work. Between 2011-16 he led the plant health work at the Institute, and is now their contact for the Scottish Government-funded Strategic Research Programme Theme 2 “Productive and sustainable Land Management and Rural Economies”. He is currently the Director of the Plant Health Centre.
Recently, following a working group on PCN, a report entitled ‘Potato cyst nematode (PCN) and the future of potato production in Scotland’ was submitted to Scottish Government highlighting the PCN problem in detail and outlining practical recommendations for its reduction.
Scottish Government agreed to fund in full the recommendations in the report and this project will aim to:
• develop resistance markers to PCN to inform breeding programs,
• introduce diploid breeding strategies to generate PCN resistant varieties relevant to the Scottish fresh potato market,
• improve the understanding of the mechanisms of PCN tolerance in potatoes,
• methods of groundkeeper control and management,
• novel and improved IPM tools for PCN management,
• create a decision support tool for PCN control in Scotland, building upon the AHDB’s PCN calculator
This report is the output of a call-down project that assesses the type of plant health problems in Scotland that GE could address, with potential benefits, barriers to deployment and dis-benefits noted.
Following a Ministerial round table meeting on PCN in June 2020, a working group of over 50 potato industry, government and academic partners was set up (from both Scotland and the wider UK) to identify a clear strategy for dealing with the PCN crisis. Following over 320 person hours of scheduled meetings, plus many days of personal discussions, recommendations for how to combat the growing threat of PCN to the Scottish potato industry have been proposed.
The Plant Health Centre completed an in-depth review of its first 18-months of activity for our funder (the Scottish Government through RESAS) in September 2019. While the full report is not yet available to the public, we have created a summary leaflet that outlines out achievements over this period.
Status, Scottish specific issues, Plant Health Centre perspective and Key priorities and recommendations concerning the threat from Potato Cyst Nematode to Scotland