About Us

Pectobacterium atrosepticum is one of the most economically damaging bacterial plant pathogens in the UK, causing blackleg disease of potato plants and soft rot of tubers. The priority of project DeS-BL (Building a Decision Support Tool for Potato Blackleg Disease) is to develop an integrated suite of decision support tools for farmers, agronomists and policymakers to facilitate management of the disease

Our Objectives

To identify new ways to control blackleg disease through research undertaken in a number of work packages (any one of which could offer a new breakthrough in the treatment of blackleg), and then to use data from them, combined with other unique datasets, to develop a decision support tool(s) for use by industry. 

Work Package 1

- Role of free-living nematodes (FLN) on potato plant infection - below ground

- Role of insects on potato plant infection - above ground

Work Package 2

- Influence of irrigation on FLN and the consequences for blackleg development

- Role of cover crops in a rotation to mitigate blackleg

Work Package 3

- Effect of irrigation, cover crops, root architecture and root exudates on Pectobacterium / other rhizosphere microbes

- Identification of bacteriocins from soil and rhizosphere microbes for use in biocontrol

Work Package 4 

- Trends in blackleg incidence over space and time influenced by a range of data sets using ArcGIS

- Effect of climate change on future distributions of Pectobacterium and FLN in GB

- Identify drivers of blackleg outbreaks and develop a model to forecast risk of occurrence

- Integrate project data into a simple decision support tool for predicting blackleg risk 

Work Package 5

- Co-construct ideas with policy and industry and discuss findings from the project

- Examine the impact of implementing the decision support tool 

work package links diagram

Schematic showing main connections between works packages and objectives


Meet the Team

Project Leader


Work Package 1

Work Package 1 Lead. Senior Principle Research Leader
The James Hutton Institute
Senior Research Scientist
The James Hutton Institute
Research Scientist
The James Hutton Institute

Work Package 2

Work Package 2 Lead. Acting Head of Potato Research Group
Bayer Crop Science

Work Package 3

Work Package 3 Lead. Professor of Evolutionary Genetics
University of Glasgow
Reader in Plant Pathology
University of Glasgow
Director of the Durham Crop Centre
University of Durham
Reader in Information Engineering
University of Glasgow

Work Package 4

Work Package 4 Lead. Principle Research Scientist
The James Hutton Institute
Managing Director SoilEssentials Ltd.

Work Package 5

Work Package 5 Lead. Global Talent Chair in Mathematics
University of Strathclyde
Crop Health and Protection Senior Scientist
Environmental Economist
University of Newcastle

Advice across Work Packages

Senior Agronomist and Director of Scottish Agronomy
Scottish Agronomy
SA Consulting