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 research has been to bring these different disciplines together to develop a better understanding of seed behaviour.
I am now in the process of retirement so that I am no longer taking on new projects and students. However, I am actively involved in a number of experimental collaborations and continue to submit manuscripts for publication.
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 the National Vegetable Research Station in 1981 following four years as a science manager in industry. He transferred to Horticulture Research International and then the University of Warwick while based at the Wellesbourne Campus. Throughout he led a series of physiological and molecular biological projects on many aspects of seed science and seedling establishment. Bill is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and was President of the International Society for Seed Science 2011-2014.
Plant & Crop Science
International Society for Seed Science