Evolution and development of fruits and seeds



Our research investigates how the genetic mechanisms that influence fruit and seed development are conserved or have diversified in species with different fruit types. The differences or similarities could be caused by diversification or conservation in master regulators of development; in their gene sequence, copy number,  expression patterns and/or protein functions.

We have two main systems of interest that represent important crops: the capsular fruit of the opium poppy and the grain or caryopsis of the temperate cereals (e.g., wheat and barley). In the latter case we are using Brachypodium distachyon as a model system and will exploit forward and reverse genetics approaches to investigate caryopsis development.

Poppy is a basal eudicot and Brachypodium is a monocot and so our research will provide insights into the evolution of development throughout the angiosperms.



Funding and People

Our research on poppy is currently funded by The Leverhulme Trust ("The Evolution of Fruit Form" 2011-2014) and Sofia Kourmpetli is the PDRA on that project.

Our research on Brachypodium and temperate cereals is funded by the BBSRC and Philip Hands is a PhD student working on comparative grain development.




  • Professor John Doonan, IBERS - University of Aberystwyth
  • Professor Vivian Irish, Yale University 
  • Dr. Phillippe Vain, John Innes Centre, Norwich


If you have funding for a PhD and would like to work in our group, please contact us.


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Contact Details

Department of Genetics
University of Leicester

Adrian Building
University Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3374
E Mail: genetics@le.ac.uk

Head of Department
Professor Jacqui Shaw

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