Dr Alison J. Karley

Research Leader in Agroecology

Research Focus

Agroecosystem biodiversity and pest biocontrol under reduced inputs and climate change. Dr. Alison Karley her research interests are driven by the wider challenges of how to enhance ecosystem service provision in agroecosystems and optimise sustainable crop production.

Scientific Activities

Optimising plant traits for sustainable agriculture by identifying the traits that allow arable plants to perform optimally in reduced input conditions. Current work focusses on the impact of crop trait and species diversity on productivity and insect pest populations in arable systems. In soft fruit crops, Dr. Alison Karley and colleagues have identified plant traits underpinning tolerance or resistance to arthropod pests above- and below-ground. Plants, herbivores and natural enemies.

Using aphids as a model, she focuses on the impact of plant traits (e.g. nutritional quality) and insect traits (e.g. presence of microbial endosymbionts) on the performance of insect herbivores and their natural enemies. Dr. Karley work with colleagues and collaborators to examine the impact of biotic and abiotic factors on the plant-herbivore-natural enemy interaction, for example through climate change, crop management and soil microbial communities.

Significant Publications

Bennett, AE, Millar, N, Gedrovics, E, Karley, AJ. 2016. Plant and insect microbial symbionts alter the outcome of plant-herbivore-parasitoid interactions: implications for invaded, agricultural and natural systems. Journal of Ecology (Early View). doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12620

Mitchell C, Brennan RM, Graham J & Karley AJ. 2016. Plant defense against herbivorous pests: exploiting resistance and tolerance traits for sustainable crop protection. Frontiers in Plant Science 7, 665. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01132

Hackett SC, Karley AJ, Bennett AE. 2013. Unpredicted impacts of insect endosymbionts on interactions between soil organisms, plants and aphids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280 (1768), 1471-2954.


Contact information


Email: Alison.Karley@hutton.ac.uk