Dr Steve Penfield

Project Leader
Crop Genetics

Seeds are the largest source of human and animal nutrition on the planet, and seed sales are central to the agro-economy. Optimising seed performance is therefore a key goal for the seed industry, growers and food producers. Because seed vigour is highly contingent on the temperature during seed production, climate change is a major confounding factor for future production of resilient high quality seeds.

As seed biologists, we are interested in understanding how environmental sensing in seeds generates seasonal plant behaviour and crop seed performance. My group’s focus is on understanding how environmental information gathered by the mother plant is used to control progeny seed traits and life history, via seed dormancy and germination vigour.

Using this knowledge we are devising and testing strategies to engineer crop seeds to be less sensitive to the seed production environment. Working with industrial partners we are to taking novel germplasm through to field trials to evaluate potential for genetic seed quality improvement.

Dr Steve Penfield to lead research for more vigorous seeds

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Scientists discover why flowers bloom earlier in a warming climate

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Mother plants teach seeds about seasons and give them a thicker coat when it’s cold

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Five new Project Leaders join the John Innes Centre

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Recent Publications

Fedi F., O'Neill C. M., Menard G., Trick M., Dechirico S., Corbineau F., Bailly C., Eastmond P. J., Penfield S. (2017)

Awake1, an ABC-Type Transporter, Reveals an Essential Role for Suberin in the Control of Seed Dormancy.

Plant Physiology 174 p276-283

Publisher’s version: 10.1104/pp.16.01556

Penfield S., MacGregor D. R. (2016)

Effects of environmental variation during seed production on seed dormancy and germination

Journal of Experimental Botany doi:10.1093/jxb/erw436 pdoi:10.1093/jxb/erw436

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/jxb/erw436

Dave A., Vaistij F. E., Gilday A. D., Penfield S. D., Graham I. A. (2016)

Regulation of Arabidopsis thaliana seed dormancy and germination by 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid.

Journal of Experimental Botany 67 p2277-84

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/jxb/erw028

Riach A. C., Perera M. V., Florance H. V., Penfield S. D., Hill J. K. (2015)

Analysis of plant leaf metabolites reveals no common response to insect herbivory by Pieris rapae in three related host-plant species.

Journal of Experimental Botany 66 p2547-56

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/jxb/erv045

MacGregor D. R., Penfield S. (2015)

Exploring the pleiotropy of hos1.

Journal of Experimental Botany 66 p1661-71

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/jxb/erv022

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Steve Penfield

  • Dr Min Chen Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Matthew Dale Undergraduate Project Student
  • Isabelle Camu Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Nick Pullen Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Naichao Zhang Research Assistant
  • Carmel O'Neill Research Assistant
  • Dr Albor Dobon Alonso Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Joyita Deb Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr FeiYian Yoong Postdoctoral Scientist

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