£2.2m European grant for crop disease research awarded to James Hutton Institute

Two scientists at the James Hutton Institute have been awarded European Research Council (ERC) grants of £1.1 million each to research crop pathogens over the next five years.

Dr Jorunn Bos and her research team will look at the chemical factors that determine which aphids feed on which crop plants.

She said: "This is important fundamental research that promises to lead to innovative discoveries that are crucial to the future development of novel and sustainable aphid control strategies."

Meanwhile Dr Edgar Huitema and team will study the molecular basis of plant diseases by using both pathogen and crop genome sequences. They will use as a model the vegetable pest Phytophthora capsici, and if successful, apply the same approach to other related pathogens such as P. infestans, the cause of late blight in potato and tomato.

Huitema said: "My lab will study these processes in unprecedented detail and then use this information to generate better solutions to prevent crop loss."

He said of the grants: "They will contribute to the continuation of innovative high-impact science and the recruitment of young talented scientists to our teams in Dundee."

ERC Starting Grants aim to help early-career researchers establish a group to pursue research that is innovative and beyond the state-of-the-art.

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