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Professor Brian Thomas





Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: +44(0)2476 575050

Research Interests

My research interests are in the mechanisms by which plants interact with the environment and the practical consequences of these interactions. I am particularly interested in the role of light and photoperiod in modulating developmental transitions, such as juvenility, flowering and bulb initiation. My current research includes a study of the control of juvenility, which is defined as the phase of early development during which plants are not competent to respond to environmental signals that induce flowering in adult plants. I work with Antirrhinum and Arabidopsis where flowering is photoperiod-sensitive and with Brassica where flowering is usually low-temperature-dependent. An important finding is that the length of the juvenile phase is regulated by light quantity, pointing to links between assimilate resource management and flowering capacity [1]

A second area of research is the genetic control bulbing in Allium species in response to daylength. The working hypothesis is that the mechanism is analogous to the photoperiodic regulation of flowering, which is well-characterised. We have identified components linked to the circadian clock that may be related to daylength sensitivity [2]. Future work aims to identify the intra-organ signals and target genes that mediate the vegetative to bulbing transition.

I also have a strong interest in climate change and crop development and have led several recent projects assessing the potential impact of predicted weather patterns on aspects of development in a range of crops. Current work involves a study of water and nutrient use efficiency in Brassica and wheat at ambient and elevated CO2 levels.


Brian obtained his first degree in Botany and a PhD in Plant Physiology at UCW Aberystwyth. He worked as a Postdoctoral Scientist in Carleton University, Ottawa and the University of Reading before becoming a research scientist at the Glasshouse Crops Research Institute in Littlehampton, which subsequently became part of Horticulture Research International. He moved to Wellesbourne in 1995 where he was latterly a Research Director responsible for the Crop Improvement and Biotechnology Research Theme. He joined the University of Warwick in 2004 as part of Warwick HRI. He became a member of the newly formed School of Life Sciences in 2010.

Research Projects

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Post Graduate Supervision

  • Genetic regulation of day length adaptation in onion (Allium cepa L.)
  • Regulation of juvenility in Antirrhinum majus Date of Completion:2012
  • Environmental and genetic regulation of juvenility in Antirrhinum majus Date of Completion:2014
  • Functional Genomics of Photoperiodic Bulb Initiation in Onion (Allium cepa) Date of Completion:2009
  • Genetic and Physiological Analysis of Juvenility in Plants Date of Completion:2004

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