Genes in the Environment

Genes in the Environment Institute Strategic Programme (GEN ISP)

The BBSRC funded Genes in the Environment ISP aims to develop a wider and deeper understanding of how the environment influences plant growth and development.

The research carried out under the Genes in the Environment ISP will be critically important for improving the stability of crop yields which are strongly influenced by changes in weather and other environmental factors.



Under the influence of longer-term climate change, crop growing conditions are becoming more and more unpredictable.

This results in unpredictable supplies of important food crops, volatile markets and food prices, and in extreme cases, social unrest and famine. Our increasingly unpredictable climate coupled with forecasted population increases require radical changes in the scope and rate of improvement in crop productivity over the next few decades to secure food supplies.

By understanding how plants adapt to changing environmental conditions we can help breed crops that are more resilient and productive in a wider range of growing conditions.

Wider and deeper understanding

Our research is wide in scope because of the range plants and environments that we will study including brassica crops, wheat and the experimental species, Arabidopsis. Wheat and Brassica are the two main crops grown in the UK.

We aim to develop a deeper understanding of basic biological mechanisms occurring in plants, and understand how plant genes and genetic variation influence how the plant responds and adapts to challenging environments.

Examples of areas of research to be addressed by the Genes in the Environment ISP include:

  • Over-wintering responses that promote flowering
  • The adaptation of plants to challenging environments
  • The sensitivity to temperature of pollen and egg formation in wheat
  • How plant diseases influence plant growth

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Featured Scientist

Prof Caroline Dean

Prof Caroline Dean

Cell and Developmental Biology

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Featured Publication

Increased pericarp cell length underlies a major quantitative trait locus for grain weight in hexaploid wheat.

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