Senior Experimental Officer
Phone: 024 765 75014
Warwick Centres and GRPs
Opportunities in the group
For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.
Genetic diversity underpins the development of crop varieties we need for food production, particularly in the context of farming systems that use fewer inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation. Crops that are more resilient can be developed through using the diversity present across the whole crop genepool, including that of wild species related to crops. A key project is the UK Vegetable Genebank, a collection of thousands of samples of seed from a range of vegetable crops such as carrot, onion, lettuce and brassicas like cauliflower and cabbage. My team and I conserve this seed under long-term storage conditions and make it available as a resource for researchers, breeders and growers to use. We collaborate with others within the UK and internationally to ensure that conservation is carried out as effectively and efficiently as possible. I also use molecular markers to understand diversity in the collections; this can help target conservation efforts.
I am interested in understanding and conserving genetic variation, particularly in crops and related wild species. My teaching focuses on ecology and biodiversity; an understanding of these topics is key to topics such as weed management, invasive species as well as modules which focus directly on the principles and applications of ecology.
Research: Technical Summary
The conservation of plant genetic resources is a key activity, enabling plant breeders and scientists have access to as much of the genepool as possible of each crop species. Efficient and effective conservation will ensure that the resources will remain available in the long term, allowing use of the allelic diversity they represent. The UK Vegetable Genebank conserves diversity in a range of field vegetable crops such as carrot, onion, lettuce and brassicas. Our material has been used in a wide range of research, from resistance screening for key crop pathogens such as clubroot, cavity spot and black rot, as well as phylogenetic studies and projects seeking to understand the genetic basis of key plant and crop traits.
I am part of projects such as the Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network provide a pipeline from the UK Vegetable Genebank collections to breeding programmes, helping to deliver the new crop varieties required to support improving farming systems
I am particularly interested in carrot diversity, domestication and breeding. The UK Vegetable Genebank is part of the European Evaluation Network for carrot, a network of academic, public and commercial organisations undertaking joint evaluation and characterisation of carrot germplasm in Europe.
I am active within national and international networks such as the European Co-operative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources as the Chair of the Umbellifer Crops Working Group, as well as having membership of other crop working groups. I am Deputy Chair of the UK Plant Genetic Resources Group, a group which provides technical and policy advice to Defra.
I am always keen to communicate the importance of conserving crop genetic diversity, and give public talks and host visits to showcase the work of the UK Vegetable Genebank.
- PhD Biological Sciences University of Southampton
MRes Analytical Biology University of Warwick
- BSc (Hons) Ecology Lancaster University