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Kelly Houston

Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Molecular Geneticist
Kelly.Houston@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Invergowrie
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK

 

Kelly is a geneticist who has worked in barley genetics research since completing her PhD.  Much of her research has been on two main aspects of grain composition, the plant cell wall (including (1,3;1,4)-β- glucan, arabinoxylan and phenolic acids), and micronutrient content. She identifies and characterizes genes responsible for these traits using a powerful combination of high-density marker sets to carry out statistical genetic analysis and genetic resources (including natural germplasm, mutants and CRISPR-Cas9 gene edited lines) to learn more about how these genes ultimately influence the trait of interest. Recently, Kelly has become interested in utilizing georeferenced datasets to understand more about genetic adaptation to a range of environmental conditions and how this can be applied to facilitate the development of germplasm suitable for future predicted climates.

Current research interests

The interest in studying (1,3;1,4)-beta-glucan in barley originates from the health benefits that can be obtained from including (1,3;1,4)-beta-glucan in the daily dietary fibre intake. Barley and oats contain higher levels of (1,3;1,4)-beta-glucan compared to wheat and rice. In 2005 the US Food and Drugs administration (FDA) approved the claim that whole grain barley and barley-containing products containing at least 0.75 grams of soluble (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan fibre per 228 g serving reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Exploiting a range of molecular genomic and genetic techniques and resources, we aim to define the functional diversity and regulation of the Csl gene families that mediate the synthesis of (1,3;1,4)-beta-glucan, a plant cell wall polysaccharide found in commercially important grasses and cereals.

  • BBSRC Response mode Developing nutrient-enriched cereal grains with large embryos. 2019-2023 (Co-I).
  • ARC ‘Discovery’ Determining how the soluble dietary fibre (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan is made in cereals. 2021-2024 (PI)
  • RESAS Improving barley quality for malt and as a health food. 2016-2022 (PI)

Past research

Previous work as a postdoctoral research associate at the James Hutton Institute involved fine mapping, identification and characterisation of genes influencing morphological traits in barley such as spike density (ZEOCRITON), awn development (LKS1) and glume development (Trd1). This was carried out as part of the EU funded BARCODE project with Robbie Waugh, Arnis Druka, Nils Stein and Michele Morgante.

  • 2009-2011 – PDRA – BARCODE project – Scottish Crop Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute).
  • 2005-2009 – PhD – Ecotypic variation and population structure in grassland plant species – Newcastle University.

Bibliography

  • Thomas, W.T.B.; Bull, H.; Houston, K.; Looseley, M.E. (2017) Barley (Origins, uses, breeding, and composition)., In: Walker, G.M., Abbas, C., Ingledew, W.M. and Pilgrim, C. (eds.). The Alcohol Textbook, 6th edition. Chapter 5.

Printed from /staff/kelly-houston on 04/10/22 03:46:03 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.