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Aberdeen, United Kingdom

The James Hutton Institute is a new interdisciplinary scientific research institute in Scotland. The institute brings together the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute. The new institute, named after Scottish geologist James Hutton, one of the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, will combine existing Scottish expertise in agricultural research, soils and land use, and will make contributions to issues including food and energy security, biodiversity, and climate change. With more than 600 employees, the new institute will be among the largest research centres in the UK. Wikipedia.

Pakeman R.J.,James Hutton Institute
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2011

1.Functional diversity has been suggested as an important descriptor of an assemblage and as an indicator of ecosystem function. However, there has been little testing of recent functional diversity measures on field data and across environmental gradients of disturbance and productivity. This study tested how three recently developed measures of functional diversity behave in practice and what could be deduced about assembly rules operating in the systems studied. 2.Data from 30 plant communities in a small area, comprising arable fields, mown and grazed grasslands, moorland and woodland, were analysed in terms of these diversity indices. Functional Divergence, Evenness and Richness were independent of each other, but Richness correlated to species diversity through the sampling effect. 3.As evidenced by reduced Functional Richness, habitat filtering operated at a significant proportion of the sites sampled. Functional Richness was also reduced against expectations at high levels of both productivity and disturbance. Functional Divergence showed no clear patterns, but Functional Evenness showed a clear promotion by disturbance and a reduction at high standing biomass. 4.Synthesis. Knowledge of how functional diversity is related to the environment provides indications of the processes governing community assembly, and the possibility of developing them as measures of ecosystem function. © 2011 The Author. Journal of Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society. Source

After domestication, during a process of widespread range extension, barley adapted to a broad spectrum of agricultural environments. To explore how the barley genome responded to the environmental challenges it encountered, we sequenced the exomes of a collection of 267 georeferenced landraces and wild accessions. A combination of genome-wide analyses showed that patterns of variation have been strongly shaped by geography and that variant-by-environment associations for individual genes are prominent in our data set. We observed significant correlations of days to heading (flowering) and height with seasonal temperature and dryness variables in common garden experiments, suggesting that these traits were major drivers of environmental adaptation in the sampled germplasm. A detailed analysis of known flowering-associated genes showed that many contain extensive sequence variation and that patterns of single- and multiple-gene haplotypes exhibit strong geographical structuring. This variation appears to have substantially contributed to range-wide ecogeographical adaptation, but many factors key to regional success remain unidentified. © 2016 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved. Source

Hogenhout S.A.,John Innes Center | Bos J.I.B.,James Hutton Institute
Current Opinion in Plant Biology | Year: 2011

Insect herbivores have highly diverse life cycles and feeding behaviors. They establish close interactions with their plant hosts and suppress plant defenses. Chewing herbivores evoke characteristic defense responses distinguishable from general mechanical damage. In addition, piercing-sucking hemipteran insects display typical feeding behavior that suggests active suppression of plant defense responses. Effectors that modulate plant defenses have been identified in the saliva of these insects. Tools for high-throughput effector identification and functional characterization have been developed. In addition, in some insect species it is possible to silence gene expression by RNAi. Together, this technological progress has enabled the identification of insect herbivore effectors and their targets that will lead to the development of novel strategies for pest resistances in plants. © 2011. Source

Phosphorus commonly limits crop yield and is frequently applied as fertilizer; however, supplies of quality rock phosphate for fertilizer production are diminishing. Plants have evolved many mechanisms to increase their P-fertilizer use efficiency, and an understanding of these traits could result in improved long-term sustainability of agriculture. Here a mutant population is utilized to assess the impact of root hair length on P acquisition and yield under P-deficient conditions alone or when combined with drought. Mutants with various root hair phenotypes were grown in the glasshouse in pots filled with soil representing sufficient and deficient P treatments and, in one experiment, a range of water availability was also imposed. Plants were variously harvested at 7 d, 8 weeks and 14 weeks, and variables including root hair length, rhizosheath weight, biomass, P accumulation and yield were measured. The results confirmed the robustness of the root hair phenotypes in soils and their relationship to rhizosheath production. The data demonstrated that root hair length is important for shoot P accumulation and biomass, while only the presence of root hairs is critical for yield. Root hair presence was also critical for tolerance to extreme combined P deficit and drought stress, with genotypes with no root hairs suffering extreme growth retardation in comparison with those with root hairs. The results suggest that although root hair length is not important for maintaining yield, the presence of root hairs is implicit to sustainable yield of barley under P-deficient conditions and when combined with extreme drought. Root hairs are a trait that should be maintained in future germplasm. Source

Martin-Ortega J.,James Hutton Institute
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2012

A key element of the European Water Framework Directive is the role that economic tools and principles have been assigned in achieving its objectives. This has raised important research and implementation questions that have set the water agenda in Europe in the last ten years and will continue to do so. This paper examines these key questions and reviews the progress that has been made in addressing them. Key research-policy challenges ahead are identified. These include addressing "wicked" problems, such as the operationalisation of the ecosystem service approach; challenging assumed principles for cost-effectiveness and disproportionality; and effectively co-constructing knowledge with stakeholders. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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