School of Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7657 4968
Fax: +44 (0) 24 7657 4500
Dr. Steven Footitt
School of Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7657 4980
Fax: +44 (0) 24 7657 4500
The quality of seeds and how they perform in practice directly affect crop production efficiency through their impact on seedling establishment. For example, in field crops the timely establishment of seedlings at the correct density increases total yield per unit area and therefore reduces the amount of chemical inputs and land required for crop production. In addition, where crops are harvested as individual plants (most vegetables) the uniformity of seedling emergence greatly influences the marketable yield and therefore their profitability. High seed quality and good seedling establishment are of equal importance in protected cropping, amenity horticulture, forestry and forest restoration.
Physiological seed dormancy is present throughout the higher plants and has a profound impact on many aspects of crop production and the structure of plant communities in the natural environment. Despite this, our understanding of dormancy is limited. Little is known about how dormancy is controlled at the molecular level or how dormancy mechanisms interact with the soil environment to determine patterns of seedling emergence.
Current research interests:
- Seed dormancy and the control of germination.
- Seed vigour
- Dormancy cycling responses to environmental signals and global warming in contrasting Arabidopsis ecotypes
- Modelling seed germination and seedling emergence in the field.
View a recent BBC interview on weed emergence and climate change:
Click on the titles below for brief articles on other aspects of our current work:
- Understanding seed dormancy
- A trait-led search for genes underlying seed vigour
- Understanding the relative establishment times of crops and weeds within the changing seedbed
- Understanding tree seed performance including booklets to download
- Dormancy-related genes identified in cherry seeds
- Post-harvest moist storage of wild cherry seeds improves the uniformity of germination
Current Ph. D. Projects
Congratulations to Dr Ziyue Huang who recently defended her dissertation "Characterisation of dormancy cycling resposnses to environmnetal signals in contrasting Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes"
Dr. Huangs' research was funded by a Warwick Postgraduate Research Scholarship.
- Dormancy cycling of Brassicaceae species in the field: impact of thermal gradients and nitrate on seeds during annual cycles. Steven Footitt, Heather Clay, Katherine Dent, Andrew Mead and Bill Finch-Savage
- A trait-led approach which exploits natural variation inseed vigour to enhance crop establishment. K. Morris, K.C. Dent, J. Lynn. G.C. Barker,H.A. Clay, E.C. Howell and W.E. Finch-Savage
- Patterns of seed dormancy cycling in species of the Brassicaceae. Steven Footitt, Heather Clay, Katherine Dent, and Bill Finch-Savage
Long, RL., Gorecki, MJ., Renton, M., Scott,JK., Colville, L., Goggin, DE., Commander, LE., Westcott, DA., Cherry, H., and Finch-Savage, WE. (2015) The ecophysiology of seed persistence: a mechanistic view of the journey to germination or demise. Biological Reviews 90 (1) 31-59
Footitt S; Müller K; Kermode AR; Finch-Savage WE (2014) Seed Dormancy Cycling in Arabidopsis: Chromatin Remodelling and Regulation of DOG1 in Response to Seasonal Environmental Signals. Plant Journal 8 (3) 413-425
- Footitt, S, Clay, HA, Dent, K., and Finch-Savage, WE , (2014) 'Environment sensing in spring-dispersed seeds of a winter annual Arabidopsis influences the regulation of dormancy to align germination potential with seasonal changes ' New Phytologist 202 (3), 929 - 939
- Footitt, S.,Huang, Z., Clay, H. A., Mead, A., and Finch-Savage, William E.,, (2013) 'Temperature, light and nitrate sensing coordinate Arabidopsis seed dormancy cycling, resulting in winter and summer annual phenotypes' Plant Journal, The 74 (6), 1003 - 1015
- William E. Finch-Savage,and Steven Footitt, (2012) 'To germinate or not to germinate: a question of dormancy relief not germination stimulation ' Seed Science Research 22 (4), 243 - 248
- Footitt, S.,Douterelo-Soler, I., Clay, H., and Finch-Savage, W. E., (2011) 'Dormancy cycling in Arabidopsis seeds is controlled by seasonally distinct hormone-signaling pathways' Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences (USA) 108 (50), 20236 - 20241 (0027-8424)
- Footitt, S. & Finch-Savage, W.E. (2011) ' Production of Seed Samples for the Effective Molecular Analysis of Dormancy Cycling in Arabidopsis ' in Seed Dormancy. Methods in Molecular Biology,65 - 79, Editors: Allison R. Kermode, Springer
- Watt, M. S., Bloomberg, M., Finch-Savage, W.E. 2011 Development of a hydrothermal time model that accurately characterises how thermoinhibition regulates seed germination. Plant Cell and Environment 34: 870-876
- Morris, K., Linkies, A., Müller, K., Oracz, K., Wang, X., Lynn, J.R., Leubner-Metzger, G., Finch-Savage, W.E. 2011 Regulation of Seed Germination in the Close Arabidopsis Relative Lepidium sativum: A Global Tissue-Specific Transcript Analysis. Plant Physiology 155:1851-1870
- Ntuli, T.M., Finch-Savage, W.E., Berjak, P., Pammenter, N.W., 2011 Increased Drying Rate Lowers the Critical Water Content for Survival in Embryonic Axes of English Oak (Quercus robur L.) Seeds. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 53:270-280
- Finch-Savage, W.E., Clay, H.A., Lynn, J.R., Morris, K. 2010 Towards a genetic understanding of seed vigour in small-seeded crops using natural variation in Brassica oleracea. Plant Science 179: 582-589
- Linkies, A., Müller, K., Morris, K., Tureková, V., Wenk, M., Cadman, C.S.C., Corbineau, F., Strnad, M., Lynn, J.R., Finch-Savage, W.E. and Leubner-Metzger, G. 2009 Ethylene Interacts with Abscisic Acid to Regulate Endosperm Rupture during Germination: A Comparative Approach Using Lepidium sativum and Arabidopsis thaliana. The Plant Cell 21:3803-3822
- Batlla, D., Grundy, A., Dent, K.C. and Finch-Savage, W.E 2009 A quantitative analysis of temperature-dependent dormancy changes in Polygonum aviculare seeds. Weed Research 49:428 - 438
- Holdsworth, M.J., Finch-Savage, W.E., Grappin, P. and Job, J. 2008. Post-genomics dissection of seed dormancy and germination. Trends in Plant Science. 13, 7-13.
Finch-Savage, W.E., Cadman, C.S.C, Toorop, T.E., Lynn, J.R. and Hilhorst, H.W.M. 2007. Seed dormancy release in Arabidopsis Cvi by dry after-ripening, low temperature, nitrate and light shows common quantitative patterns of gene expression directed by environmentally specific sensing. The Plant Journal 51, 60-78.
- Finch-Savage, W. E. 2007. Promoting biodiversity. Commercial Grower, 13, September 2007. 24-25.
- Finch-Savage, W.E. and Leubner-Metzger, G. 2006. Seed dormancy and the control of germination. New Phytologist (Tansley Review) 171, 501-523.
- Cadman, C.S.C., Toorop, P.E, Hilhorst, H.W.M. and Finch-Savage, W.E. 2006 Gene expression profiles of Arabidopsis Cvi seeds during cycling indicate a common underlying dormancy control mechanism. The Plant Journal 46, 805-822.
- Finch-Savage, W.E. and Whalley, W.R. 2006 Germination and emergence models. In Bewley, J.D., Black, M. and Halmer, P., eds. The Encyclopedia of seeds: Science, technology and uses. Walingford: CAB International. 260-263.
- Whalley, W.R. and Finch-Savage, W.E. 2006 Seedbed environment. In Bewley, J.D., Black, M. and Halmer, P., eds. The Encyclopedia of seeds: Science, technology and uses. Walingford: CAB International. Pp. 599-602.
- Finch-Savage, W. E. 2006. Understanding dormancy in seeds. Plant it 9, 2.
- Finch-Savage, W.E., Côme, D. and Lynn, J.R., Corbineau, F. 2005. Sensitivity of Brassica oleracea seed germination to hypoxia: a QTL analysis. Plant Science 169, 753-759.
- Finch-Savage, W.E., Rowse H.R. and Dent, K.C. 2005. Development of combined imbibition and hydrothermal threshold models to simulate maize (Zea mays L.) and chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) seed germination in variable environments. New Phytologist 165, 825-838.
- Grundy, A and Finch-Savage, W. E. 2005. Understanding the relative establishment times of crops and weeds. The Vegetable Farmer. January 2005, 21-22
- Whalley, W.R., Finch-Savage, W.E., Clark, L.J. and Cope, R.E. 2004. The impact of mechanical impedance on the emergence of carrot and onion seedlings. Plant and Soil 265. 315-323.
- Dent, K.C., Stephen, J.R. and Finch-Savage, W.E. 2004. Molecular profiling of microbial communities associated with seeds of Beta vulgaris subsp. Vulgaris (sugar beet). Journal of Microbial Methods 56, 17-26.
- Finch-Savage, W.E. 2004. Understanding and improving crop establishment. Plant It, Issue 4, January 2004, 7-8.
- Finch-Savage, W.E. 2004. The use of population-based threshold models to describe and predict the effects of seedbed environment on germination and seedling emergence of crops. In Benech-Arnold, R.L. and Sánchez, R.L., eds Seed physiology: applications to agriculture, Haworth Press, New York. pp. 51-96.
- Finch-Savage, W.E., Dent, K.C., Clark, L.J. 2004. Soak conditions and temperature following sowing influence the response of maize (Zea mays L.) seeds to on-farm priming (pre-sowing seed soak). Field Crops Research 90, 361-374.
- Murungu, F.S., Chiduza, C., Nyamugafata, P., Clark, L.J., Whalley, W.R. and Finch-Savage, W.E. 2004 Effects of sowing occasion and "on-farm seed priming" on emergence and growth of maize in semi-arid Zimbabwe. Field Crops Research 89, 49-57.
- Stephen, J.R., Dent, K.C. and Finch-Savage, W.E. 2004. Molecular responses of Prunus avium embryonic axis to temperatures affecting dormancy. New Phytologist 161, 401-413.