Prof Claire Domoney

Head of Department
Metabolic Biology

Claire works on the molecular and genetic control of seed traits in pea using mutant populations and natural germplasm to provide novel genetic variation.

Her research is linked to understanding the impact of seed composition on human health, e.g. the digestibility of pea protein and increasing resistant starch, while determining the effects on plant growth, yield and pest tolerance.

Claire’s research also investigates the regulation of processes associated with senescence, specifically the loss of chlorophyll from seeds.

  • Molecular and genetic control of seed metabolism in legumes
  • Altering the digestibility and composition of seed protein and starch
  • Field trials of novel pea germplasm to understand effects on yield and pest tolerance


Claire's laboratory is engaged in research aimed at understanding genes and processes involved in determining seed quality traits in Pisum sativum L. (pea).

Pea is the foremost European legume crop, with a variety of food and feed uses, and provides an important and valuable break crop in rotations. Traits of importance to industry include overall composition, where sugar, starch and protein are of primary importance.

For food markets, visual traits can have a large economic impact in terms of return to the growers. 

The group use a range of tools and resources in order to understand the molecular and genetic control of seed traits.

Novel germplasm is provided by the Pisum collection at in the John Innes Centre Germplasm Resource Unit, and from mutagenised lines which can now be screened very rapidly to provide radically different genetic variation. These variants allow us to unravel why particular processes occur, such as the rapid loss of seed colour from seeds of many commercial cultivars.  Several proteins in seeds have poor nutritional value; elimination of these may impact positively on both plant and seed traits.

Postdoctoral Researcher vacancy

We are looking for an experienced researcher is required to contribute to research on the utilisation of UK pulse crops in the nutritional enhancement of human diets at the John Innes Centre.

This is a 6-month project supervised by Professor Claire Domoney and Dr Janneke Balk to carry out laboratory research and data gathering in the design of a longer (four year) programme of work. The successful applicant will liaise with stakeholders and researchers within the Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network [] to assess current knowledge against industry needs.

In addition, the postholder will investigate genetic variation in desirable nutrients (protein, starch, sugars, mineral micronutrients) in germplasm collections. The postholder will incorporate the gathered information and experimental data into a draft grant proposal.


Tel: 01603 450381

John Innes Centre pulse crop research in £1.3m funding boost

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Queen’s Birthday Honours award for John Innes Centre scientist

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Lab identifies photosynthesis protein critical for normal plant growth

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Progress toward the perfect pea

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Selected Publications

Rayner T., Moreau C., Ambrose M., Isaac P. G., Ellis N., Domoney C. (2017)

Genetic variation controlling wrinkled seed phenotypes in Pisum: how lucky was Mendel?

International Journal of Molecular Sciences 18 p1205

Publisher’s version: 10.3390/ijms18061205

Petropoulou K., Chambers E. S., Morrison D. J., Preston T., Godsland I. F., Wilde P., Narbad A., Parker R., Salt L., Morris V. J., Domoney C., Persaud S. J., Holmes E., Penson S., Watson J., Stocks M., Buurman M., Luterbacher M., Frost G. (2016)

Identifying crop variants with high resistant starch content to maintain healthy glucose homeostasis

Nutrition Bulletin 41 p372-377

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/nbu.12240

Smýkal P., Varshney R. K., Singh V. K., Coyne C. J., Domoney C., Kejnovský E., Warkentin T. (2016)

From Mendel’s discovery on pea to today’s plant genetics and breedingCommemorating the 150th anniversary of the reading of Mendel’s discovery

Theoretical and Applied Genetics 129 p22672280

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/s00122-016-2803-2

Bell A., Moreau C., Chinoy C., Spanner R., Dalmais M., Le Signor C., Bendahmane A., Klenell M., Domoney C. (2015)

SGRL can regulate chlorophyll metabolism and contributes to normal plant growth and development in Pisum sativum L.

Plant Molecular Biology 89 p539558

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/s11103-015-0372-4

Recent Publications

Ellis N., Hattori C., Cheema J., Donarski J., Charlton A., Dickinson M., Venditti G., Kaló P., Szabó Z., Kiss G., Domoney C. (2018)

NMR metabolomics defining genetic variation in pea seed metabolites

Frontiers in Plant Science 9 p1022

Publisher’s version: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01022

Moore K. L., Rodriguez-Ramiro I., Jones E. R., Jones E. J., Rodriguez-Celma J., Halsey K., Domoney C., Shewry P. R., Fairweather-Tait S., Balk J. (2018)

The stage of seed development influences iron bioavailability in pea (Pisum sativum L.)

Scientific Reports 8 p6865

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/s41598-018-25130-3

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

Petropoulou K., Salt L., Warren F., Domoney C., Wilde P., Frost G. (2017)

A Seed Trait Studied By Gregor Mendel In Pisum sativum L. (Pea): Potential Prevention Of Type 2 Diabetes

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Claire Domoney

  • Tracey Rayner Support Specialist
  • Carol Moreau Research Assistant


Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Award: Excellence in the area of impact, 2013

BBSRC Individual Merit Promotion Award, 2013


For media enquiries, please contact the JIC communications team 01603 450962,

Expertise: Legume crop genetics; seed proteins; seed composition & metabolomics; pea genomic & germplasm resource utilisation  

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