Scotland's Rural College
I am working at SRUC as a plant population geneticist on the broadening of the genetic basis of barley (Hordeum) to look at sustainable ways of stable crop outputs in relation to limited nutrient input but also pathogen and herbivore resistance. I also use traditional landraces and wild relatives of barley from all over Europe to find traits for appliance in agriculture.
I am involved in a project on the population genetics of the pathogen Ramularia and its potential for invasiveness in Scottish crops where I co-supervise PhD student Marta Piotrowska. I am also co-supervising PhD student Maria Scholten on a project involving the population genetics of oats (Avena) from Uist to compare diversity throughout its Scottish distribution.
I did my PhD project in Glasgow where I looked at the consequences of mating system variation in North American Arabidopsis lyrata. A. lyrata has a physiological self-incompatibility (SI) mechanism that recognizes self pollen but in some individuals this mechanism broke down. I have used phylogeographic methods to test whether this breakdown had occurred once or several times independently. I have also been looking whether this breakdown had consequences in terms of inbreeding depression, pathogen susceptibility, and pollinator attraction. Furthermore I have worked on phylogeography and ecology of invasive species.
My interests lie mainly in mating system dynamics, pathogen host interactions, sustainable management of crops and the potential of natural populations for agricultural practices.