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Professor Bill Finch-Savage





Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: +44(0)24 7657 4968

Research Interests

Seeds are the means of delivering genetic information across space and time, not only in natural systems and conservation programmes, but crucially in agriculture where the world seed market is predicted to soon exceed US$40 billion. My research interests focus on understanding and enhancing the performance of seeds in this process and subsequent seedling establishment. The latter phase is fundamental to efficient crop production and the species balance of natural plant communities. Of particular interest is the response of seeds to environmental signals and the control of seed germination timing through dormancy which dominates seedling establishment. In my view, to understand these responses it is essential to integrate knowledge from laboratory studies with understanding of the soil surface complex in which the seed functions. Nevertheless, seed ecology, physiology and molecular biology have tended to be studied by separate scientific communities and with limited reference to the soil physical environment. The vision supporting my current research is to bring these different disciplines together to develop a better understanding of seed behavior.

Current research interests include:

  • Understanding the causes and consequences of variation in seed quality, germination and emergence times.
  • Investigating the molecular basis of physiological seed dormancy and dormancy cycling in the natural environment.
  • Developing methods for predicting and improving seed performance in practice.
  • Quantifying and modelling the impact of biotic and environmental constraints on seed germination and seedling establishment.

Bill was President of the International Society for Seed Science (2011-2014).

He also has a wide ranging interest in the interaction between agriculture and the surrounding landscape.


Bill graduated with a BA in Biology from the University of York and a PhD in crop physiology from the University of Reading. He joined HRI in 1981 following four years as a science manager in industry. He has led a series of physiological and molecular biological projects on many aspects of seed science and seedling establishment, some of which are described on the Seed Science Group website.

Research Projects

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