Dr Brande Wulff

Project Leader
Crop Genetics

Brande’s research programme explores the genetics of disease resistance in wheat.

This research has led to developing fast, new and efficient methods for gene discovery and cloning which use mutant and natural populations followed by sequence alignment to locate genes, a technique which could be applied to a range of crop plants.

Brande has also developed a method for reducing the wheat generation time to 8 weeks, in a controlled environment, dramatically speeding up capabilities for research and breeding purposes.

  • Rapid gene discovery for disease resistance
  • Speed breeding
  • Stacking genes for disease resistance


Brande is interested in how microbial effector proteins, their host targets, and plant immune receptors co-evolve.

His work seeks to translate knowledge of this interaction into practical solutions for genetic disease control in agricultural systems. His focus is on bread wheat and two major diseases of wheat – stem rust and Septoria tritici blotch (STB). Also, Brande interested in the mechanism and evolution of a novel gene-for-gene resistance between wheat and Zymoseptoria tritici, the causal agent of STB.

Brande's long-term goal is to understand this mechanism, and to provide resistance gene–based solutions to prevalent disease threats in the UK and worldwide.


Tel: 01603450288

New genomic tool searches wheat's wild past to improve crops of the future

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Speed breeding technique sows seeds of new green revolution

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New MutChromSeq technique makes valuable genes easier to find

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New gene-detecting technology developed at the John Innes Centre brings new, resilient super wheat closer.

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Selected Publications

Yu G., Champouret N., Steuernagel B., Olivera P. D., Simmons J., Williams C., Johnson R., Moscou M. J., Hernandez-Pinzon I., Green P., Sela H., Millet E., Jones J. D., Ward E. R., Steffenson B. J., Wulff B. B. (2017)

Discovery and characterization of two new stem rust resistance genes in Aegilops sharonensis.

TAG. Theoretical and applied genetics. Theoretische und angewandte Genetik 10.1007/s00122-017-2882-8. p16

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/s00122-017-2882-8

Bevan M. W., Uauy C., Wulff B. B., Zhou J., Krasileva K., Clark M. D. (2017)

Genomic innovation for crop improvement.

Nature 543 p346-354

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/nature22011

Sánchez-Martín J., Steuernagel B., Ghosh S., Herren G., Hurni S., Adamski N., Vrána J., Kubaláková M., Krattinger S. G., Wicker T., Doleel J., Keller B., Wulff B. B. (2016)

Rapid gene isolation in barley and wheat by mutant chromosome sequencing.

Genome Biology 17 p221

Publisher’s version: 10.1186/s13059-016-1082-1

Steuernagel B., Periyannan S. K., Hernández-Pinzón I., Witek K., Rouse M. N., Yu G., Hatta A., Ayliffe M., Bariana H., Jones J. D., Lagudah E. S., Wulff B. B. (2016)

Rapid cloning of disease-resistance genes in plants using mutagenesis and sequence capture.

Nature Biotechnology 34 p652-655

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/nbt.3543

Steuernagel B., Jupe F., Witek K., Jones J. D., Wulff B. B. (2015)

NLR-parser: rapid annotation of plant NLR complements.

Bioinformatics 31 p1665-7

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btv005

Recent Publications

Lewis C. M., Persoons A., Bebber D. P., Kigathi R. N., Maintz J., Findlay K., Corredor-Moreno P., Harrington S. A., Kangara N., Berlin A., Garcia R., German S. E., Hanzalova A., Hodson D., Hovmoller M. S., Huerta-Espino J., Imtiaz M., Iqbal Mirza J., Justesen A. F., Niks R. E., Omarani A., Patpour M., Pretorius Z. A., Roohparvar R., Sela H., Singh R. P., Steffenson B., Visser B., Fenwick P. M., Thomas J., Wulff B. B., Saunders D. G. O. (2018)

Potential for re-emergence of wheat stem rust in the United Kingdom

Communications Biology

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/s42003-018-0013-y

Watson A., Ghosh S., Williams M., Cuddy W. S., Simmonds J., Santome M. -. D., Hatta M. A. M., Hinchliffe A., Steed A., Reynolds D., Adamski N., Breakspear A., Korolev A., Rayner T., Dixon L. E., Riaz A., Martin W., Ryan M., Edwards D., Batley J., Raman H., Rogers C., Domoney C., Moore G., Harwood W., Nicholson P., Dieters M. J., DeLacy I. H., Zhou J., Uauy C., Boden S. A., Park R. F., Wulff B. B. H., Hickey L. T. (2018)

Speed breeding: a powerful tool to accelerate crop research and breeding

Nature Plants 4 p23-29

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/s41477-017-0083-8

Steuernagel B., Vrána J., Karafiátová M., Wulff B. B. H., Doleel J. (2017)

Rapid Gene Isolation Using MutChromSeq

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7249-4_20

Steuernagel B., Witek K., Jones J. D. G., Wulff B. B. H. (2017)

MutRenSeq: A Method for Rapid Cloning of Plant Disease Resistance Genes

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7249-4_19

View All

Brande Wulff


For media enquiries, contact the John Innes Centre communications team 01603 450962, comms@jic.ac.uk

Media Experience:

Caution: Risk of wheat stem rust in Mediterranean basin in the forthcoming 2017 crop season following outbreaks on Sicily in 2016 - Global Rust Reference Centre (February 2017)

Putting up resistance – The Scientist (June 2014)

PhD students in India, Ethiopia and Kenya to fight wheat stripe rust – PhysOrg (January 2014)

Advance in battle against wheat pest – BBC News
 (June 2013)

نبتة تشبه القمح فيها الداء والدواء – MBC TV (September 2012)

The 2Blades SAW movie 2012 - Science, Art & Writing, Fairhaven Primary School, Norfolk (March 2012)

Salt-tolerant rice “Could aid Japan’s Tsunami farmers” – BBC News Norfolk (January 2012)

Plant scientists to explore genetics to halt spread of crop disease – Agro News (November 2011) 

Standing up to stem rust - Financial Times (November 2011)

GM Wheat “a life saver” – The Sunday Times (October 2011)

How to the feed the 7 Billion – The Sunday Times (October 2011) 


In recent news:

Research and Development - Gene-Detecting Technology Brings Resilient Super Wheat Closer to Reality

EurekAlert - Scientists advance disease resistance in 3 of world's most important crops

Crop Production magazine - New technology could bring super-wheat closer


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