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William Thomas

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Recent publications

Staff picture: William Thomas
Cell and Molecular Sciences
+44 (0)844 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK

Current research interests 

  • Plant breeding and genetics, Marker assisted selection, marker assisted breeding, Agronomically relevant traits.
  • My research focusses upon the connection between genotype and phenotype to dissect the genetic control of complex economically important traits such as the various parameters of malting quality in barley. Dr Thomas is the manager of the Scottish Government funded Work Package 1.1 – Barley Genetics which focusses upon the development of tools and resources to deliver improvements in the sustainability in Scottish (and UK) barley production.
  • Interact with all facets of the barley industry in these objectives, such as seed companies and representatives of the brewing and distilling industries and was instrumental in the formation of the consortium of plant breeders, end-users and academic partners in the recently funded BBSRC LINK project 'Association Genetics of Elite UK Barley'.
  • The James Hutton Institute lead PI on the Defra LINK project 'Genetic Reduction of Energy use and Emissions of Nitrogen through cereal production: GREEN grain'.
  • Previously led a successful LINK project aimed at identifying the genetic control of characters specific to the distilling industry and was the SCRI lead PI in a BBSRC/SEERAD funded collaborative project 'Development of robust, broad-based QTL maps to improve barley breeding' with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and Heriot Watt University.
  • Was a co-PI on the EU INCO-MED project 'Mapping Adaptation of Barley to Droughted Environments' and an HGCA funded project 'Causes and control of endosperm exposure in barley'.
  • Have been instrumental in the uptake of two diagnostic markers for use in marker-assisted barley breeding – one for resistance to the Barley Yellow Mosaic complex and the other for non-production of epiheterodendrin.
  • Currently working with BSPB and CEL in the use of the former in candidate selection for UK recommended list trials.
  • Nearly 30 years research experience in cereals, I have published a number of papers in refereed journals and supervised post-graduate research projects.

Other Activities

  • Scottish Society of Crop Research Cereals Sub-committee (Member).
  • BSPB Cereals Crop Group (Member).
  • Editor Annals of Applied Biology.
  • External examiner Birmingham University.


  • Comadran, J., Russell, J.R., van Eeuwijk, F.A., Ceccarelli, S., Grando, S., Baum, M., Stanca, A.M., Pecchioni, N., Mastrangelo, A.M., Akar, T., Al-Yassin, A., Benbelkacem, A., Choumane, W., Ouabbou, H., Dahan, R., Bort, J., Araus, J.-L., Pswarayi, A., Romagosa, I., Hackett, C.A., Thomas, W.T.B. 2008. Mapping adaptation of barley to droughted environments. Euphytica 161, 35-45.
  • Forster, B.P., Franckowiak, J.D., Lundqvist, U., Lyon, J., Pitkethly, I. and Thomas, W.T.B. 2007. The Barley Phytomer. Annals of Botany 100, 725-733.
  • Rae, S.J., Macaulay, M., Ramsay, L., Leigh, F., Matthews, D., O’Sullivan, D.M., Donini, P., Morris, P.C., Powell, W., Marshall, D.F., Waugh, R. and Thomas, W.T.B. 2007. Molecular barley breeding. Euphytica 158, 295-303.
  • Chloupek, O., Forster, B.P. and Thomas W.T.B. 2006. The effect of semi-dwarf genes on root system size in field grown barley. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 112, 779-786.
  • Bengough, A.G., Gordon, D.C., Al Menaie, H., Ellis, R.P., Allan, D., Keith, R., Thomas W.T.B. and Forster, B.P. 2004. Gel observation chamber for rapid screening of root traits in cereal seedlings. Plant and Soil 262, 63-70.
  • Thomas, W.T.B. 2003. Prospects for molecular breeding of barley. Annals of Applied Biology 142, 1-12.
  • Rajasekaran, P., Thomas, W.T.B., Wilson, A., Lawrence, P., Young, G., Ellis, R.P. 2004. Genetic control over grain damage in a spring barley mapping population. Plant Breeding 123(1), 17-23.
  • Ivandic, V., Thomas, W.T.B., Nevo, E., Zhang, Z., Forster, B.P. 2003. Associations of simple sequence repeats with quantitative trait variation including biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in Hordeum spontaneum. Plant Breeding 122(4), 300-304 Aug 2003.
  • Ellis, R.P., Forster, B.P., Gordon, D.C., Handley, L.L., Keith, R., Lawrence, P., Powell, W., Robinson, D., Scrimgeour, C.M., Young, G. and Thomas W.T.B. 2002. Phenotype/genotype associations of yield and salt tolerance in a barley mapping population segregating for two dwarfing genes. Journal of Experimental Botany 53, 1163-1176.

  • Email:
  • Phone: +44 (0)844 928 5428
  • Craigiebuckler Aberdeen AB15 8QH Scotland
  • Invergowrie Dundee DD2 5DA Scotland
A Scottish charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Scotland No SC374831.
Registered office: The James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie Dundee DD2 5DA. Charity No SCO41796

Printed from /staff/william-thomas on 01/07/16 10:50:16 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.