Electrostatic instabilities develop on TORPEX (TORoidal Plasma EXperiment) [A. Fasoli et al., Phys. of Plasmas, 13, 55902 (2006)] in the bad curvature region and propagate consistently with the drift wave dispersion relation. The wave number and frequency spectra are coherent at the location where the instabilities are generated, then broaden along the E x B convection. The phase coupling between spectral components at different frequencies, measured at different locations over the plasma cross section, indicates that the transition from a coherent to a turbulent spectrum is mainly due to three-wave interaction processes. Nonlinear interactions are measured between the linearly unstable mode and fluctuations with larger frequency, with transfer of energy away from the linearly unstable mode. The results are consistent with a nonlinearity induced by the convection of density fluctuations by the E x B fluctuating velocity. (C) 2007 American Institute of Physics.