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Lesley Torrance

School of Biology

Biomolecular Sciences Building

North Haugh

St Andrews

KY16 9ST

United Kingdom

E-mail: lt27@st-andrews.ac.uk

Research overview

Plant viruses cause major disease epidemics in important food crops and are a major threat to food security in many countries particularly in the developing world.  The predicted warming of the climate caused by environmentaal change is expected to increase the abundance and geographic range of many insects that spread viruses (virus vectors) which in turn may increase the occurrence of virus diseases. Potato is the third largest food crop in the world.  In Scotland, last year, around about 1.3 million tonnes were produced with 76,000 tonnes of seed potatoes exported to over 30 countries (not including to EU countries).  Pests and diseases cause major economic losses by decreased tuber yield and quality, and rejection of exports. 

Viruses are parasites that must take over the host cell’s functions to replicate and produce more virus particles.  My research focuses on the role and function of virus coded proteins in these processes, investigating their subcellular localisation and molecular interactions.  In addition, we investigate mechanisms of host resistance to viruses.  This work will identify essential host molecules needed for replication and spread and a better understanding of defence processes. The practical outputs of this work will be to identify new sources of resistance and more effective methods of disease control.   

Other research in the lab concern working with partners in Africa to improve seed potato production systems and collaboration with Ziejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences on soil-borne viruses.

A new area of research is on viruses that occur in soils.  This is an understudied area that is important for soil function. 

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Research publications

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