Cereal Crops

Genetics, Genomics and Resource capture

Understanding the biology of cereal crops to provide rational methods for crop improvement is a major theme in Plant and Crop Sciences and fully aligned with global challenges relating to Food Security. The research combines genetics, genomics and physiology for identification of genes and genomic regions controlling major crop traits. Target cereal crops are wheat, rice and barley.

Ears of corn

Key aims and expertise

Ian and Julie King are focused on significantly increasing the gene pool of wheat via the introgression of genetic variation from wild and cultivated Triticeae species. John Foulkes is phenotyping novel wheat germplasm for key resource-use targets (nitrogen- and water-use efficiency) and Debbie Sparkes is using an understanding of crop physiology to inform crop management systems. Erik Murchie is working on improving photosynthesis in cereal crops with a focus on rice and wheat. Zoe Wilson is working male fertility in barley. The alien introgression studies are unique in the UK and the programme is part of major BBSRC and international initiatives on wheat.

Current projects

Wheat improvement strategic programme - ancestral introgressions, harnessing natural variation and phenotyping novel wheat germplasm (Ian King, Julie King, John Foulkes

Understanding cereal physiology (Debbie Sparkes

Improving Crop Photosynthesis (Erik Murchie)

Significant results

  • The generation of wheat germplasm containing introgressions from 15 wild species and initial genotyping of this material.
  • A physiological analysis of wheat pre-breeding germplasm (ancestral regressions, landraces and synthetic hexaploids and populations derived from them) for biomass and resource-use efficiency traits (Gaju et al (2011) Field Crops Research 123: 139-152)
  • Work in Erik Murchie’s group has identified the role of canopy architecture in limiting photosynthetic productivity of cereal crops with a focus on photoprotection.

Cereal Crops

The University of Nottingham
C21 Plant Sciences, Sutton Bonington Campus
Loughborough, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 6372