Students gain insight into the work of AFBI
Two University students have been gaining valuable experience, working in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Newforge, alongside two of the most experienced and respected scientists in their field.
Allison Chapman examining potato plants in the field at AFBI Newforge
Allison Chapman, from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Cheshire, is currently studying for a PhD on the recent Phytophthora infestans population changes within the UK funded by the UK Potato Council. P. infestans causes potato late blight and is best known for being the reason behind the Irish potato famine in the 1840s. This pathogen is still a major economic threat to the potato industry today, through loss of yield and the cost of disease control.
Allison is based at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee where her supervisors are Dr Alison Lees, Dr David Cooke and Professor Paul Birch. Her six weeks at AFBI have allowed her to gain knowledge from Dr Louise Cooke’s extensive experience whilst undertaking a field trial investigating how different strains of potato late blight compete within the natural environment.
Londonderry student Alexander Gilliland is studying Biological Science (Ecology) with Management (Hons) at the University of Edinburgh. He received a British Society for Plant Pathology Summer Student Bursary, which has given him the chance to come and work in AFBI’s Applied Plant Science and Biometrics Division on a summer placement for 10 weeks.
Alexander Gilliland working in the laboratory at AFBI Newforge
Alexander is working in the AFBI labs under the supervision of leading plant pathologists, Dr Alistair McCracken and Dr Louise Cooke studying Phytophthora ramorum and the serious disease it causes on Japanese Larch in Northern Ireland.
Alexander is working with cutting edge technology and experiencing life in a professional scientific laboratory. He has taken the opportunity to learn a variety of techniques such as allozyme genotyping, mating tests, DNA extraction, PCR, identification and culturing of P. ramorum.