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Joan Cottrell, BSc, PhD

Programme Group Manager

Joan Cottrell


Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5900
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5927
Fax: +44 (0)131 445 5124

Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Midlothian EH25 9SY

Joan Cottrell joined Forest Research in 1991, where she established the molecular laboratory and is responsible for introducing molecular marker technology.

Current role

Programme Group Manager

Responsibility for the management of the molecular laboratory that uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based techniques to assess genetic diversity, genetic structure and gene flow in natural tree populations of species such as oak, black poplar and wild cherry.

The genetic conservation group has been involved in several large EU funded projects such as FAIROAK, EUROPOP and OAKFLOW which aim to assess the genetic diversity in tree species on a European scale.

In addition, the laboratory is collaborating with staff in the Centre for Forest Resources and Management to use molecular markers to search for quantitative trait loci in Sitka spruce. We also collaborate with Tree Health staff in the Centre for Climate Change and have contributed to work on Horse Chestnut Bleeding Canker and Pine tree lappet moth.

Current programmes and projects

  • Genetic conservation
    Improving our understanding of the genetic resources present in British tree populations. This includes:
    • Research into the genetic diversity and geneflow in British populations of oak, black poplar, ash, rowan, cherry and Scots pine
    • Maintenance and measurement of provenance trials of rowan and ash from populations sampled across Britain
    • Collaborating with landscape ecologists to examine the effect of various features of the landscape matrix on genetic connectivity using wood crickets as a model species
    • Developing molecular tests to identify the species of origin of faecal samples for fox, pine marten, capercaillie, black grouse and various species of bat; these have been used by field ecologists to confirm presence of these species.
  • Using molecular technology to characterise the biology of Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi, the bacterium which which causes bleeding canker of horse chestnut
    Includes applying molecular techniques to try to discover the origin of a population of Pine tree lappet moth which was discivered a few years ago in Scotland.
  • Selection and testing of conifers
    Marker aided selection in Sitka spruce - managing the molecular contribution to this programme.

Affiliations and achievements

  • 2004 Silvicultural Prize awarded by the Institute of Chartered Foresters for best paper in the journal ‘Forestry’.
  • British representative for EUFORGEN poplar network
  • Member of the UK Plant Genetic Resources Group
  • PhD supervision of students from for Edinburgh and Southampton Universities and external examiner for PhD theses from Bangor and Southampton University.

Main recent publications

A’Hara, S.W., Scobie, A.R., Broome, A., Long, D. & Cottrell, J.E (In press). Development of microsatellite markers in twinflower (Linnaea borealis L.), a rare Scottish pinewood plant. Molecular Ecology Resources

Salmela, M.J., Cavers, S.,  Cottrell, J.E., Iason, G.R. &  Ennos, R.A. (2011). Seasonal patterns of photochemical capacity and spring phenology reveal genetic differentiation among native Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) populations in Scotland. Forest Ecology and Management, 262, 1020-1029.

Stephenson, P., Harris, N., Cottrell, J., Ralph, S., Bohlmann, J. & Taylor, G. (2011). A transcriptomic approach to identify genes associated with wood density in Picea sitchensis. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 26, Supplement 11, 82-96.

Salmela, M.J., Cavers, S., Wachowiak, W., Cottrell, J.E., Iason, G.R. & Ennos, R.A. (2010). Understanding the evolution of native pinewoods in Scotland will benefit their future management and conservation. Forestry, 83, 535-545.

Green, S., Studholme, D.J., Laue, B.E., Dorati, F., Lovell, H., Arnold, D., Cottrell, J., Bridgett, S., Blaxter, M., Huitema E., Thwaites, R., Sharp, P.M., Jackson, R.W. & Kamoun, S. (2010). Comparative Genome Analysis Provides Insights into the Evolution and Adaptation of Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi on Aesculus hippocastanum. PLoS ONE, Vol. 5 (4) e10224.

de Carvalho, D., Ingvarsson, P.K., Joseph, J., Suter, L., Sedivy, C., Macaya-Sanz, D., Cottrell, J., Heinze, B., Schanzer, S. & Lexer, C.  (2010). Admixture facilitates adaptation from standing variation in the European aspen (Populus tremula L.), a widespread forest tree. Molecular Ecology 19, 1638–1650.

Sutherland, B.G., Belaj, A., Nier, S., Cottrell, J.E., Vaughan, S.P, Hubert, J. & Russell, K. (2010). Molecular biodiversity and population structure in common ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) in Britain; implications for conservation. Molecular Ecology. 19, 2196-2211.

A’Hara, S., Samuel, S. & Cottrell, J. (2009). The role of DNA fingerprinting in the conservation of the native black poplar. British Wildlife, December 2009 110-115.

Cottrell, J.E., Vaughan, S.P., Connolly, T., Sing L., Moodley, D.J. & Russell, K. (2009). Contemporary pollen flow, characterization of the maternal ecological neighbourhood and mating patterns in wild cherry (Prunus avium L.). Heredity 103 (2) 118-128.

A'Hara, S.W., Hancock, M. Piertney, S.B. & Cottrell, J.E. (2009). The development of a molecular assay to distinguish droppings of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) from those of capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus). Wildlife Biology. 15 (3) 328-337.

Jensen, J. Larsen, A., Nielsen, L. & Cottrell, J. (2009). Hybridization between Quercus robur and Q. petraea in a mixed oak stand in Denmark. Annals of Forest Science 66 706-717.

Green,S ., Laue, B., Fossdal,C.G., A'Hara, S.W. & Cottrell, J. E. (2009). Infection of horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) by Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi and its detection by quantitative real-time PCR. Plant Pathology  58 731-744. 

A'Hara, S.W. & Cottrell, J.E. (2009). Development of a set of highly polymorphic genomic microsatellites (gSSRs) in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.). Molecular Breeding, 23, 349-355.

Vanhala, T. & Cottrell, J. E. (2008). Development of microsatellite markers for the wood cricket, Nemobius sylvestris (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Molecular Ecology Resources, 8, 1340-1343.

Smulders, M.J.M., Cottrell, J. E., Lefèvre, F., van der Schoot, J., Arens, P., Vosman, B., Tabbener, H. E., Grassi, F., Fossati, T., Castiglione, S., Krystufek, V., Fluch, S., Burg, K., Vornam, B., Pohl, A., Gebhardt, K., Alba, N., Agúndez, D., Maestro, C., Novitol, E., Volosyanchuk, R. T., Pospíšková, M., Bordács, S., Bovenschen, J., van Dam, B. C., Koelewijn, H. P., Halfmaerten, D., Ivens, B., van Slycken, J., Vanden Broeck, A., Storme, V. & Boerjan, W. (2008). Structure of the genetic diversity in Black poplar (Populus nigra L.) populations across European river systems: consequences for conservation and restoration. Forest Ecology and Management, 255, 1388-1399.

Vaughan, S.P., Cottrell, J. E., Moodley, D.J., Connolly, T. & Russell, K. (2007). Clonal structure and recruitment in British wild cherry (Prunus avium L).  Forest Ecology and Management, 242, 419-430.

Vaughan, S.P., Cottrell, J.E., Moodley, D.J., Connolly, T. & Russell, K. (2007). Distribution of fine scale genetic structure in British wild cherry (Prunus avium L.) Heredity, 98, 274-283.

A'Hara, S.W. & Cottrell, J.E. (2007). Characterization of a suite of 40 EST-derived microsatellite markers for use in a Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) marker aided selection program. Silvae Genetica, 56: 138-141.

Lowe, A., Unsworth, C., Gerber, S., Davies, S. White, A., Munro, R., Kelleher, C., King, A., Brewer, S. & Cottrell, J. (2006). Route, speed and mode of oak postglacial colonisation across the British Isles : integrating molecular ecology, palaeoecology and modelling approaches. Botanical Journal of Scotland, Special Issue 'Atlantic Oakwoods', pp59-82.

Vanden Broeck, A.N., Cottrell, J.E., Quataert, P., Breyne, P., Storme, V., Boerjan, W. & Van Slycken, J. (2006). Paternity analysis of Populus nigra L. offspring in a Belgian plantation of native and exotic poplars Annals of  Forest Science 63: 783-790.

Keary, K., A'Hara, S., Whitaker, H. & Cottrell, J. (2005). Assessment of genetic variation in black poplar in Ireland using microsatellites. Irish Forestry 62, 6-18.

A’Hara, S. W. & Cottrell, J.E. (2004). A set of microsatellite markers for use in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) developed from Picea glauca EST sequences. Mol. Ecol. Notes, 4, 659-663.

Cottrell, J.E., Krystufek, V., Tabbener, H.E., Milner, A., Connelly, T. Sing, L., Fluch, S., Burg, K., Lefèvre, F. Achard, P. Bordács, S., Gebhardt, K., Vornam, B., Smulders R., Vanden Broeck, A.H., Van Slycken, J., Storme, V., Boerjan, W., Castiglione, S. Fossati, T., Alba, N., Agúndez, D., Maestro, C., Novitol, E., Bovenschen, J. & van Dam, B. (2005). Post glacial migration of Populus nigra L: lessons learnt from chloroplast DNA. For. Ecol. Manag., 206, 71-90.

Vanden Broeck, A.H., Storme, V., Cottrell, J.E., Boejeran, W., Van Bockstaele, E., Quatert, P. & Van Slycken, J. (2004). Gene flow between cultivated poplars and native black poplar (Populus nigra L.): a case study along the Meuse on the Dutch-Belgian border. For. Ecol. Manag., 107, 285-294.

Storme, V., Boejeran, W., Vanden Broeck, A.H., Ivens, B., Halfmaerten, D., Van Slycken, J, Castiglione, S., Grassi, F., Fossati, T., Cottrell, J.E., Tabbener, HE Lefevre, F., Imbert, E., Fluch, S., Krustufek, V., Burg, K., Bordacs, S., Gebhardt, K., Vornam, B., Pohl, A., Alba, N., Bovenschen, J., van Dam, B., van der Schoot, J., Vosman, B. & Smulders, M.J.M. (2004). Ex situ conservation of black poplar in Europe: duplications and diversity in nine genebank collections and their use for conservation and nature development. Theoretical & Applied Genetics, 108, 969-981

Lowe A.J., Munro, R., Samuel, S. & Cottrell, J.E.(2004). The utility and limitations of chloroplast DNA analysis for identifying native British oak stands and for guiding replanting strategy. Forestry, 77, 335-347.

Cottrell, J.E. Samuel C. J. & Sykes, R. (2004). The species and chloroplast DNA haplotype composition of oakwoods in the Forest of Dean planted between 1720 and 1993. Forestry, 77(2), 100-106.

Tabbener, H.E. & Cottrell, J.E. (2003). The use of PCR based DNA markers to study paternity of poplar seedlings. For. Ecol. Manag. 179, 363-376.

Cottrell, J.E., Munro, R.C., Tabbener, H.E., Milner, A.D., Forrest, G.I. & Lowe, A. (2002). Comparisons of fine scale genetic structure within two British oakwoods using microsatellites; impacts of recolonisation dynamics and past management. For. Ecol & Manag. 176, 287-303.

Forrest, I., Tabbener, H., Cottrell, J. & Connolly, T. (2001). The genetic structures of a range of Douglas-fir provenance collections after planting in different European countries, assessed with two biochemical marker systems. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 29, 769-792.

Kremer, A., Dupouey, J. L., . Deans, J. D,  Cottrell, J.,  Csaikl, U.,  Finkeldey, R.,  Espinel, S.,  Jensen, J.,  Kleinschmit, J.,  Van Dam, B., Ducousso, A.,  Forrest, I.,  Lopez de Heredia, U.,  Lowe, A. J.,  Tutkova, M.,  Munro, R. C.,  Steinhoff, S. &  Badeau, V. (2002). Leaf morphological differentiation between Quercus robur and Quercus petraea is stable across western European mixed oak stands. Annals of Forest Science, 59, 777-787.

Petit, R.J., Brewer, S., Bordacs, S., Burg, K., Cheddadi, R., Coart, E., Cottrell, J., Csaikl, U., Deans, D., Fineschi, S., Finkeldey, R., Goicoechea, P., Jensen, J., Konig, A., Lowe, A., Madsen, S.F., Matyas, G., Munro, R.C., Oledska, I., Slade, F.P.D., Tabbener, H., Van Dam, B., Ziegenhagen, B., de Beaulieu, J. & Kremer, A. (2002). Postglacial colonisation routes of European white oaks inferred from the variation of chloroplast DNA and from the analysis of fossil pollen. For Ecol Manag 156, 49-74.

Petit, R.J., Csaikl, U., Bordacs, S., Burg, K., Coart, E., Cottrell, J., Deans, D., Dumolin-Lapegue, S., Fineschi, S., Finkeldey, R., Gillies, A., Goicoechea, P., Jensen, J., Konig, A., Lowe, A., Madsen, S.F., Matyas, G., Oledska, I., Pemonge, M., Slade, F.P.D., Tabbener, H., Taurchini, D., Van Dam, B., Ziegenhagen, B. & Kremer, A. (2002). Chloroplast DNA variation in European white oaks: synthesis based on data from over 2500 populations. For Ecol Manag 156, 5-26.

Mariette, S., Cottrell, J.E., Csaikl, U., Goikoetxea, P., Konig, A., Lowe, AJ., Van Dam, B.C., Barreneche, T., Bodenes, C., Streiff, R. & Kremer, A. (2002). Comparison of levels of genetic diversity detected with AFLP and microsatellite markers within and among mixed Q. petraea (Matt) Leibl. and Q. robur stands. Silvae Genetica, 51, 72-79.

Kremer, A., Kleinschmit, J., Cottrell, J., Cundall, N., Deans, J.D., Ducousso, A., Koenig, A., Lowe, A.J., Munro, R.C., Petit, R.J. &  Ziegenhagen, B. (2002). Is there a correlation between chloroplastic and nuclear divergence, or what are the roles of history and selection on genetic diversity in European oaks? For. Ecol. Manag. 156, 75-88.

Cottrell, J.E., Munro, R.C., Tabbener, H.E., Gillies, A.C.M., Forrest, G.I., Deans, J.D. & Lowe, A.J. (2002). Distribution of chloroplast DNA variation in British oaks (Quercus robur and Q. petraea):the influence of postglacial colonisation and human management. For. Ecol. Manag. 156,181-196

Provan, J., Soranzo, N., Wilson, N.J., McNicol, J.W., Forrest, G.I., Cottrell, J. & Powell W. (1998). Gene pool variation in Caledonian and European Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) revealed by chloroplast simple sequence repeats Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 265: 1697-1705.

Cottrell, J.E, Forrest, G. I. & White, I.M.S. (1997). The use of RAPD analysis to study diversity in British black poplar (Populus nigra L. (Pursch) W. Wettst. (Salicaceae) in Great Britain. Watsonia, 21, 305-312.

Cottrell, J.E, Forrest, G. I. & White, I.M.S. (1997). The use of Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA markers to identify and estimate the relatedness of clones belonging to the genus Populus. Bot J. Scotl. 49, 89-102.

Cottrell, J.E. & White, I.M.S. (1995). The use of isozyme genetic markers to estimate the rate of outcrossing in a Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong. Carr.) seed orchard. New Forests, 10, 111-122.

Cottrell J.E., Duffus, C. M., Paterson, L. & Mackay, G.R. (1995). Properties of potato starch: effects of genotype and growing conditions. Phytochemistry, 40, 1057-1064.

Cottrell, J.E., Duffus, C.M., Mackay, G.R. & Allison, M.J. (1993). The effects of storage on the surface morphology of starch granules of the cultivated potato, Solanum tuberosum L. Potato Research, 36, 107-117.

Cottrell, J.E., Duffus, C.M., Mackay, G.R., Allison, M.J. & Bain, H. (1993). The effect of storage temperature on reducing sugar concentration and the activities of three amylolytic enzymes in tubers of the cultivated potato, Solanum tuberosum L. Potato Research, 36, 119-125.

Duffus, C.M., Cottrell, J.E., Mackay, G.R. & Allison M.J. (1991). Low temperature sweetening in potatoes. Plant Physiology, 96, 58-60.

Cottrell, J.E. & Dale , J.E. (1986). The effects of photoperiod and gibberellic acid on the concentration of soluble carbohydrate in the shoot apex of spring barley. New Phytologist, 102, 365-373.

Cottrell, J.E., Dale , J.E. & Jeffcoat, B. (1985). Early growth of the developing ear in barley. Annals of Botany, 55, 827-833.

Cottrell, J.E., Easton, R.H., Dale , J.E., Wadsworth, A.C., Adam, J.S., Child, R.D. & Hoad, G.V. (1985). A comparison of spike and spikelet survival in mainstem and tillers of barley. Annals of Applied Biology, 106, 365-77.

Cottrell, J.E. & Dale, J.E. (1984). Variation in size and development of spikelets within the ear of barley. New Phytologist, 97, 565-573.

Cottrell, J.E., Dale, J.E. & Jeffcoat, B. (1983). The effect of application of gibberellic acid on vegetative and apical development of nutans and erectum barleys. Zeitschrift fur Pflanzenphysiologie, 112, 123-130.

Cottrell, J.E., Dale, J.E. & Jeffcoat, B. (1981). The effects of daylength and treatment with gibberellic acid on spikelet initiation and development in Clipper barley. Annals of Botany, 50, 57-68.

Cottrell, J.E., Dale, J.E. & Jeffcoat, B. (1981). Development of the apical dome in response to treatment with gibberellic acid. Plant Science Letters, 22, 161-168.

Unrefereed papers

Hubert, J. & Cottrell, J. (2007). The role of forest genetic resources in helping British forests respond to the effects of climate change (PDF-960K). Research Information Note 86.

Lee, S.J., A’Hara, S., & Cottrell, J. (2006). The use of DNA technology to advance the Sitka spruce breeding programme (PDF-1635K). In:Forest Research Annual Report, pp 30-35.

Cottrell, J., Trout, R., Quine, C. & O’Reilly, C. (2006). Molecular method to differentiate pine marten and fox scats (PDF-2295). In:Forest Research Annual Report, pp 17.

Cottrell, J.E. (2004). Conservation of Black Poplar (Populus nigra L.) in Britain and Ireland (PDF-184K). Forestry Commission Information Note 57.

Lee, S.J., Cottrell, J. & John, A. (2004). Advances in Biotechnology-powerful tools for tree breeding and genetic conservation. Research Information Note

Van Dam, B., Vanden Broeck, A., Cottrell, J. & Heinze, B. (2002). Genetic diversity in Black poplar and the implication for riparian ecosystem management, summary of the panel discussion. In ‘Genetic diversity in river populations of European Black Poplar-implications for riparian eco-system management.’ Eds. B. van Dam & S. Bordacs, pp 229-231.

Lefevre, F., Bordacs, S., Cottrell, J., Gebhardt, K., Smulders, M.J.M., Vanden Broeck, A., Vornam, B. & van Dam, B.C. (2002). Recommendations for riparian ecosystem management based on the general frame defined in EUFORGEN and results from Europop. In ‘Genetic diversity in river populations of European Black Poplar-implications for riparian eco-system management.’ Eds. B. van Dam & S. Bordacs, pp 157-162.

Cottrell, J.E., Tabbener, H.E. & Forrest, G.I. (2002). Distribution of variation in British black poplar: the role of human management. In ‘Genetic diversity in river populations of European Black Poplar-implications for riparian eco-system management. Eds. B. van Dam & S. Bordacs. Pp 73-84.

Kremer, A., Petit, R. J., Csaikl, U., Beaulieu, J. L., Bordacs, S., Brewer, S., Burg, K., Cheddadi, R., Coart, E., Cottrell, J., Cundall, N., Deans, D., Fineschi, S., Finkeldey, R., Gillies, A., Goicoechea, P., Grossini, P., Halle, C. L., Jensen, J. S. Kleinschmit, J., Konig, A., Lowe, A., Madsen, S. F., Matyas, G., Munro, R., Olalde, M., Oledska, I., Pemonge, M. H., Popescu F., Reille, M., Slade, D., Steinhoff, S., Tabbener, H.E., Van Dam, B., De Vries, S. & Ziegenhagen, B. (2001). Range wide distribution of the chloroplast DNA and pollen deposits in European white oaks: Inferences about colonisation routes, impact of chloroplastic divergence on phenotypic differentiation. IUFRO Conference, Zagreb.

Cottrell, J. E., Tabbener, H. E. Munro, R.C. Gillies, A.C.M., Forrest, G.I., Deans, D. & Lowe, A.J. (2001). Chloroplast DNA variation in British oak populations. Forest Research Annual Report, 39-41.

Cottrell, J., Tabbener, H., Munro, R., Gillies, A., Forrest, I., Deans, D. & Lowe, A. (2000). Chloroplast DNA variation in British oak populations. Forest Research Annual Report and Accounts 199-2000, pp 38-41.

Forrest, I. & Cottrell, J. (1996). Genetic diversity of native black poplar. Report on Forest Research 1996, pp 48-50.

Cottrell, J.E., Cochrane, M.P., Duffus, C.M., Allison, M.J. & Mackay, G.R. (1990). The effect of low temperature storage on the amylolytic activity of potato tubers. In ‘Abstracts of conference papers and posters of the 11th Triennial coinference of the EAPR. pp151.

Cottrell, J.E., Dale , J.E. & Jeffcoat, B. (1981). Endogenous control of spikelet initiation and development in barley. British Plant Growth Regulator Group, Monograph 7, 130-139.

Book chapters

‘Spruce’. Jean Bousquet, Nathalie Isabel, Betty Pelgas, Joan Cottrell, Dainis Rungis, Kermit Ritland. In: Genome Mapping and  Molecular Breeding in Plants, Vol. 7 Forest Trees, Chitta R. Kole (Ed). Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin, New York, Tokyo (in press).

Edited proceedings

‘Atlantic Oakwoods - A Botanical Society of Scotland Symposium’ 2005. Edited by Douglas Malcolm, Patricia Cochrane, Joan Cottrell & David Chamberlain. Edinburgh University Press.