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Kelly Houston

Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Barley Geneticist
01382 568960

The James Hutton Institute
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. Kelly has 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

  • EU Horizon Europe. BEST-CROP:Boosting photosynthESis To deliver novel CROPs for the circular bioeconomy. 2023- 2028 (Hutton PI)
  • BBSRC Response mode. Developing nutrient-enriched cereal grains with large embryos. 2019-2023 (Co-I).
  • ARC Discovery Project. Determining how the soluble dietary fibre (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan is made in cereals. 2021-2024 (PI)
  • RESAS. BARGAIN: Exploring Barley Diversity For Resilience And Sustainability. 2022-2026 (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.


  • 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.

  • Houston, K.; Wolff, K. (2008) Genetic implications for habitat restoration., Genetic implications for habitat restoration. Ecological Genetics Group

  • Birkelund-schmidt, S.; Brown, L.; Booth, A.; Wishart , J.; Houston, K.; Hedley, P.; Martin , P.; Husted , S.; Russell, J.; George, T. (2022) Identifying Genes and Traits for Tolerance to Marginal Soils in Ancient Barley Landraces Supporting Emerging Value Chains , World Congress of Soil Science, 31 July - 5 August 2022, Glasgow.
  • Druka, A.; Bonar, N.; Houston, K.; Waugh, R. (2010) Genetic dissection of barley morphology and development., Scottish Plant Biology Meeting, University of Dundee, 22 April 2010 (Poster).
  • Druka, A.; Bonar, N.; Houston, K.; Waugh, R. (2010) Genetic dissection of barley morphology and development., Monogram Network Workshop, Norwich, 2-4 March 2010 (Poster).
  • Houston, K.; Druka, A.; Bonar, N.; Franckowiak, J.D.; Lundqvist, U.; Alexander, J.; Morgante, M.; Stein, N.; Harrap, D.; Waugh, R. (2010) Fine mapping and identification of the candidate genes for barley third outer glume (trd) locus., Plant & Animal Genome XVIII, San Diego, California, USA, 9-13 January 2010 (Poster).
  • Houston, K.; Wolff, K. (2008) Ecotype variation in the genus Plantago - combining protein and genetic markers., British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Imperial College, London, September 2008 (Poster).
  • Houston, K.; Wolff, K. (2007) When is a subspecies not a subspecies?, London Evolutionary Research Network, Natural History Museum, September 2007 (Poster).

Printed from /staff/kelly-houston on 15/04/24 12:30:02 PM

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.