Ian Toth

Photo of Ian Toth
Centre Director
The James Hutton Institute

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.


Project Lead: Matt Elliot
The Plant Health Centre was commissioned by the Scottish Government to review evidence relating to the potential of new gene editing technologies to address plant health issues in Scotland, with potential benefits, barriers to deployment and dis-benefits noted
Project Lead: Ian Toth
Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) is a threat to the Scottish seed potato and bulb industries: SASA estimates that 15% of the area regularly planted with potatoes in Scotland is now infested with PCN, with an estimated increase in spread of 5% per year. If this spread is not controlled, in 25-30 years there could potentially be no suitable land left for seed potato or bulb production.

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


Agriculture | Policy Document

PCN Working Group - Final Report

March 2021

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.