BSc Biochemistry York 1985
PhD Plant Biochemistry Sheffield 1988
Research Assistant/Fellow in Lancaster and Bangor 1988-1998
Genetic variation in rice at the breeding, physiological and molecular level, in particular:
- Quantitative trait loci (QTL) and association mapping of drought avoidance mechanisms including root growth and stomatal sensitivity and multi-location field drought resistance.
- QTL mapping major and partial resistance to biotic factors including the most important fungal pathogen of rice (blast), the serious pest the root-knot nematode and the parasitic plant Striga (the most important biological contsraint in African agriculture)
- Elucidating the effects of environment on QTL expression
- Genetic variation for arsenic tolerance, uptake and metabolism
- Elucidating the physiological and molecular mechanism responsible for genetic variation identified above
- Identifying candidate genes for the above via bioinformatics, gene expression (including whole genome transcriptomics and Q-PCR), and gene and genome sequencing.
The use of molecular markers to study biological questions in particular:
- Genetic diversity and population genetics in tropical trees
- Reproductive strategies of Fragaria (strawberry) species
Main research efforts are focusing on sustainable rice production in the context of the need to feed the planet while improving sustainability of water use and coping with climate change. Key issues are;
- The development and exploitation of the new Bengal and Assam Aus Panel of 300 sequenced rice cultivars for genome wide association (GWA) mapping. This includes mapping drought, salt and cadmium tolerance plus nitrogen use efficiency. The population is currently in three Indian, three Bangladeshi, one Pakistatani, one Philippino and three UK institutions.
- Alternative wetting and drying as a method to grow rice using less water while also reducing greenhouse gas emmissions and reducing grain arsenic uptake.
- Identifying genes to reduce grain arsenic and cadmium in rice.
- Methods of multi-trait analysis for genome wide association mapping.
- The role of natural variation in aquaporins in rice water relations.
- The importance of genetic variation amongst rice cultivars for mycorrhizal colonisation.
- Genetic and biological control of the root knot nematode including breeding in Italy and India.
Kirsten Brown- technician
Roshi Shrestha- Postdoctoral Research Assistant working on the GCRF South Asia Nitrogen Hub project specialised in plant-based experiments including mycorrhiza and nematodes, and genetic mapping
Tony Travis- Postdoctoral Research Assisatant working on the GCRF South Asia Nitrogen Hub project speciallised in bioinformatics
Ayotunde Adeosun- Cadmium tolerance in rice studied using genetic mapping and wild rices
Caijin Chen- Salt tolerance in rice using the Bengal and Assam Aus Panel and GWA mapping
Yehia Hazzazi- Nitrogen use efficiency in rice using the Bengal and Assam Aus Panel and GWA mapping
Mari Sumayli- The Biological Significance of Genetic Variation in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Colonisation in Rice
Extensive collaborations in India (eight institutions), Bangladesh (three institutions), one in the Philippines and Pakistan, plus more than 10 in Europe and a similar number in the UK.
GCRF South Asia Nitrogen Hub (BBSRC funding). Five year £19M project with 13 UK and 20+ South Asian partners. £600K to Aberdeen, joint with Jo Smith. Start 1st April 2019
- Newton Fund 3 year project “NUCLEUS: a virtual joint centre to deliver enhanced Nitrogen Use effiCiency via an integrated SoiL-plant systEms approach for the Uk & BraSil”, coordinated by Nottingham University, Aberdeen budget of £230K of £2,241K total. Start 1st January 2016
- Newton Fund 3 year project “Newton-Bhabha Virtual Centre on Nitrogen Efficiency of Whole-cropping Systems for improved performance and resilience in agriculture (NEWS India-UK)”, coordinated by CEH Edinburgh, Aberdeen budget of £360K of £1,130K UK total. Start 1st January 2016.
- FACCE-ERA-NET+ 3 year funded project GreenRice, seven partners in 4 countries coordinated by CIRAD, Montpellier. Aberdeen budget €878K of €1,447K total. Start 1st December 2014
- BBSRC Case Studentship- 4 year project with Bayer CropScience entitled “Towards identification of QTLs for root traits in bread wheat”. Start October 2014
- EU FP7 funded project EURoot, 4 year 20 partner project on cereal roots coordinated from CIRAD, Montpellier. Aberdeen has budget of €210K of a total €3M. Coordinator of dissemination workpackage. Start January 2012
- BBSRC funded project “A genetic dissection of traits required for sustainable water use in rice using Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)” joint with Lancaster, the International Rice Research Institute and Mymensingh University. £1.1 M with £922 K to Aberdeen. I am PI with Co-Is Professor Meharg and Salt and Dr Ebenhoeh. Start February 2012, end January 2016
- EU-FP7 project "EURoot: Enhancing resource Uptake from Roots under stress in cereal crops". €3 M, 20 partner project with €209 to Aberdeen. Dissemination workpackage coordinator. Start Jan 2012, end December 2015.
- EU-FP7 Marie Curie Incoming Fellowship "LowAsRice" for Tapash Dasgupta, Calcutta University. Start date in negotiation. Budget £207k.
- Generations Challenge Program funded project "Targeting Drought-Avoidance Root Traits to Enhance Rice Productivity under Water-Limited Environments". Three year project with 10 partners in Philippines, India, Australia, USA, Nigeria, Tanzania, Japan and UK, coordinated by Rachid Serraj, IRRI. Start 1st December 2008. Budget $104k (of total grant $900k).
- BBSRC funded project "Characterizing genetic & soil induced variation in arsenic uptake, translocation & metabolism in rice to mitigate arsenic contamination in Asia" with Andy Meharg and Jorg Feldmann in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, UK, and research laboratories in Bangladesh, India and China. Start December 2007. Budget £412k (of total grant £617k).
- CEDROME; EU INCO-DEV funded project "Developing drought-tolerant cereals to support efficient water management in the Mediterranean area" in collaboration with partners in Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, China, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. Start 1st January 2006. Budget 290k Euro (of 1.7M Euro)
- BBSRC funded project "What makes rice roots able to penetrate hard layers? An integrated biophysical, modelling, genetic and molecular approach". Start October 2004, end October 2007. Funds held £209,000.
- BBSRC funded project 'Genetic dissection of environmental influence on root growth in rice using QTL analysis'. Start November 2000, end October 2003. Funds held £138,000.
- RESIDEV; EU INCO-DEV funded project 'Exploring the genetic diversity of rice-blast host-pathogen interactions in China: a tool to improve breeding for resistance to blast disease.' in collaboration with two labs in France and two in China. Start March 2001, end September 2003. Funds held 159,275 ECU (of total grant 903,230 ECU)
- BBSRC funded project 'The development of Near Isogenic Lines at root growth and drought resistance Quantitative Trait Loci in upland rice'. Start November 1999, end January 2001. Funds held £30,592.
- DFID Plant Sciences Programme funded project 'Analysis of environmental effects on expression of root penetration QTLs in Upland Rice, and development of PCR markers for QTL selection in drought resistance breeding'. Start 1st August 1999, end 31 July 2002. Funds held £86,556 (of total grant £165,017).
- Further Info
Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Assessor
Gatsby Foundation Mentor (promoting plant science amongst UK-based students)
Editor for Annals of Applied Biology
Editor for Food and Energy Security
External examiner for 3-5 PhDs per year
University and College Union branch committee member, Workload Rep and Health and Safety Rep
Gifford Committee Member
The Bengal and Assam Aus Panel of 300 sequenced rice cultivars grown under alternate wetting and drying or continuous flooding in Bangladesh (above) and a Manhattan plot of grain arsenic based on 2 million markers showing loci that can be used to reduce human intake of the poisonous element.
AURORA talk on sustainability and rice
Here is a youtube video of a recent talk entitled "Rice- the world’s favourite food: Towards healthier, more resilient and more sustainable."