Stuart A’Hara, BSc, MSc, PhD

Research Scientist

Stuart A’Hara

Email: stuart.a’hara@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5900
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5906
Fax: +44 (0)131 445 5124

Address:
Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Roslin
Midlothian EH25 9SY
UK

Stuart joined Forest Research in 2003, where he specialises in applying DNA based techniques to tree breeding and ecological issues. He studied Zoology at Aberdeen University (1989-93), Biotechnology at the University of Abertay (1993-94) and received his PhD from Edinburgh University (1994-1998) for his thesis on the Population Structure of Linyphiid Spiders. Prior to joining FR, Stuart worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Roslin Institute and at the Scottish Agricultural College.

Current role

Responsibilities include Project Leader for Forest Reproductive Material and managing the Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Also manage a commercial molecular service to provide solutions to ecological topics such as DNA fingerprinting of black poplar clones and identification of field collected mammal droppings.

Current programmes

Genetic Conservation

  • Monitoring presence of bird and mammal species using molecular markers designed for use with faecal samples.
  • Development and application of microsatellite DNA markers in Twinflower (Linnae borealis) and squirrel.
  • Supporting Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) regulations for black poplar and aspen by identification of clones used in propagation.
  • Genetic investigation of Pine-tree Lappet moth using mitochondrial sequence data and microsatellite markers.

Selection and testing of conifers
Responsible for development of Marker Assisted Selection program in Sitka spruce, including the generation of a Sitka genetic linkage map and QTL discovery for commercial traits of interest.

NovelTree EU project (2008-2012). An EU collaborative project
This project will mobilise and integrate European scientific research and resources on forest tree genetics to (i) develop genomic tools for plant breeding, efficient gene isolation, and optimised exploitation of genetic resources and (ii) demonstrate novel/improved methods to breed trees with improved quality and quantity parameters. This work will continue as a new EU funded project (PROCOGEN).

Affiliations

  • Forest Research representative in EUFORGEN Forest Reproductive Material working group
  • Memorandum of Understanding with Genome Canada consortium for partnership in Molecular Breeding

Research areas


Main recent publications

R. Axel W. Wiberg, Andrew R. Scobie, Stuart W. A'Hara, Richard A. Ennos, Joan E. Cottrell  2016  The genetic consequences of long term habitat fragmentation on a self-incompatible clonal plant, Linnaea borealis L. Biological Conservation 201:405-413

Konnert, M., Fady, B., Gömöry, D., A’Hara, S., Wolter, F., Ducci, F., Koskela, J., Bozzano, M., Maaten, T. and Kowalczyk, J. 2015 Use and transfer of forest reproductive material in Europe in the context of climate change. Publ. European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN), Bioversity International, Rome, Italy. ISBN 10: 978-92-9255-031-8

R. Axel W. Wiberg, Andrew R. Scobie, Stuart W. A'Hara, Richard A. Ennos, Joan E. Cottrell. (2016) The genetic consequences of long term habitat fragmentation on a self-incompatible clonal plant, Linnaea borealis L. Biological Conservation. Volume 201 Pages 405–413.

Pankhurst M.,  A'Hara S. and Cottrell J. (2015). The Fraternal Four. British Wildlife Vol 26 No.3

A’Hara S., Samuel S. and Cottrell J. (2009) The role of DNA-fingerprinting in the conservation of the native Black Poplar. British Wildlife Vol 21 No.2

Charlotte Bickler, Stuart A’Hara, Joan Cottrell, Lucy Rogers & Jon Bridle 2013. Characterisation of thirteen polymorphic microsatellite markers for cowslip (Primula veris L.) developed using a 454 sequencing approach. Conservation Genet Resources 5:1135-1137.

S A'Hara & J Cottrell 2013. Development and characterisation of ten polymorphic microsatellite markers for the pine-tree lappet moth Dendrolimus pini (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae). Conservation Genetics Resources 5: 1135-1137.

Tytti Vanhala, Kevin Watts, Stuart A’Hara & Joan Cottrell 2014 Population genetics of Formica aquilonia wood ants in Scotland: the effects of long-term forest fragmentation and recent reforestation. Conservation Genetics DOI 10.1007/s10592-014-0584-1

A’Hara, S.W., Scobie, A.R., Broome, A., Long, D. & Cottrell, J.E. (2011). Development of microsatellite markers in twinflower (Linnaea borealis L.), a rare Scottish pinewood plant. Molecular Ecology Resources 12(1):185-9.

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

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

Green, S., Laue, B., Gunnar-Fossdal, C., A’Hara, and S., Cottrell, J. (2008). Quantitative real-time PCR detection of Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi in Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). Plant Pathology (2009) 58, 731–744.

A'Hara, S.W. and Cottrell, J.E (2007). Characterization of a suite of 40 EST-derived microsatellite markers for use in Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr). Slivae Genetica.56 (3-4) p. 138-141

Lee, S.J. and A'Hara, S. (2006). Marker Aided Selection in Sitka. Forestry and British Timber: 35(1), January 2006, 14-16.

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

A’Hara, S. and Cottrell, J.E. (2004). A set of microsatellite markers for use in Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) developed from Picea glauca EST sequences. Molecular Ecology Notes 4(4), 659-663.

Schmid, M., Nandra, I., Guttenbach, M., Steinlein, C., Hoehn, H., Schartl, M., Haaf, T., Weigend, S., Fries, R., Buerstedde, J.M., Wimmers, K., Burt, D.W., Smith, J., A’Hara, S. et al. (2000). First report on chicken genes and chromosomes 2000. Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics 90 (3-4) 169-218.

A’Hara, S., Harling, R. and McKinlay, R. (2000). Application of molecular marker technology in practise: population structure in the spiders Lepthyphantes tenuis and Enoplognatha ovata. Proceedings of the Workshop on Molecular Marker Techniques, CIPM, Institut Pertanian Bogor, Indonesia.

A’Hara, S. and Burt, D. (1999). SNPs in Poultry. Proceedings of the Second International Meeting on Single Nucleotide Polymorphism and Complex Geneome Analysis.

A’Hara, S., Harling, R. and McKinlay, R. (1998). RAPD profiling of spider (Aranea) DNA. Journal of Arachnology, 26, 397-400.

Fenton, B., Malloch, G., Jones, A.T., Armine, J.W., Gordon, S.C., A’Hara, S., McGavin, W.J. and Birch, A.N.E. (1995). Species identification of Cecidophyopsis Mites (Acari, Eriophyidea) from different Ribes Species and countries using molecular genetics. Molecular Ecology 4(3), 383-387.