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Rex Brennan

Staff picture: Rex Brennan
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Honorary Associate
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK


Honorary Associate of soft fruit breeding group at the James Hutton Institute, with particular expertise on the integration of commissioned work on berry fruit genetics with commercially-funded fruit breeding programmes in Ribes and Rubus.


  • 2007 - Scottish Horticultural Medal by the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society
  • 2002 - Jones Bateman Cup for fruit research by the Royal Horticultural Society
  • 1998-9 - University of Minnesota Department of Horticulture endowed chair for research


Current research interests

1. Ribes breeding and genetics

(i) Linkage mapping of traits, development and deployment of markers linked to key traits (in collaboration with Dr Joanne Russell).  Recent work has focused on the use of Next Generation Sequencing techniques for SNP discovery in Ribes.

(ii) Heritability of commercially significant traits, and development of enhanced germplasm.

(iii) Intraspecific diversity within Ribes and use of interspecific hybrids in germplasm enhancement

(iv) Downstream blackcurrant cultivar development and release through commercially-funded breeding programmes for both the juice processing and fresh markets ( )

2. Fruit quality and health aspects (in collaboration with Drs Robert Hancock and Derek Stewart), with particular emphasis on the enhancement of vitamin C and anthocyanins in germplasm of Ribes and other berry fruits.

3. Temperature and climate change effects on perennial fruit crops, with respect to winter chilling requirement and genetic control of dormancy processes (in collaboration with Dr Lyn Jones, University of Dundee, and Drs Pete Hedley and Joanne Russell, The James Hutton Institute). Also, manipulation of dormancy processes in Rubus spp. for extension of cropping season.


  • Graham J.; Brennan, R. (2018) Introduction to the Rubus genus., In: Graham, J. & Brennan, R. (eds.). Raspberry: Breeding, Challenges and Advances. Springer International Publishing, Cham, Chapter 1, pp1-16.
  • Brennan, R.; Jarret, D. (2014) Ribes: currants and gooseberry., In: George, R.A.T. & Fox, R.T.V. (eds.). Diseases of Temperate Horticultural Plants, CABI, UK, 4, pp 68-83.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Caligari, P.D.S.; Clark, J.R.; Bras de Oliveira, P.N.; Finn, C.E.; Hancock, J.F.; Jarret, D.; Lobos, G.A.; Raffle, S.; Simpson, D. (2014) Berry crops., In: Dixon, G. & Aldous, D.E. (eds.). Horticulture - Plants for People and Places. Volume 1, Production Horticulture. Springer, New York,Chapter 9
  • Brennan, R.M. (2008) Currants and gooseberries (Ribes spp.)., In: Hancock, J. (ed.). Breeding of Temperate Fruit Crops. Kluwer Academic Press, 177-196.
  • Brennan, R.M. (2008) Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) L., In: CABI (ed.). Crop Protection Compendium. Wallingford.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Millam, S. (2003) Improvement and maintenance of temperate fruit germplasm., In: Caballero, B., Trugo, L. & Finglas, P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 2nd ed., Elsevier Science, UK, pp2774-2780.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Harrison, R.E. (2001) Factors affecting the processing of red fruits., In: Raw Ingredients in the Processed Foods: The Influence of Agricultural Principles and Practices (ed. M.B. Springett). Aspen Publishers, Gaithersburg, MD., pp97-123.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Millam, S. (1999) Conservation of small fruit germplasm., In: Plant Conservation Biotechnology (ed. E.E. Benson). Taylor and Francis, London, pp155-163.
  • Stewart, D.; Brennan, R.M. (1995) Blackcurrant stems. An agri-waste with potential as a diluent to existing tree-based fibres., In: The Chemistry and Processing of Wood and Plant Fibrous Materials (eds. J.F. Kennedy, G.O. Phillips and P.A. Williams). Ellis Horwood Ltd. Chichester, pp25-30.

  • Gordon, S.; Brennan, R.; Caldwell, E.; Young, D.; Christie, A. (2018) Hops in Scotland - a rough guide for growers., Handout for distribution at Networking Event, James Hutton Institute, Dundee, 30 August 2018.
  • McCallum, S.; Woodhead, M.; Brennan, R.M.; Graham, J. (2011) Developing molecular tools for the British blueberry industry., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2010, pp29-31.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Jones, H.G.; Russell, J.R.; Hedley, P.E.; Jorgensen, L.; Hackett, C.A.; Gordon, S. (2010) Dormancy in blackcurrant and the potential effects of future climatic conditions., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2009, pp10-11.
  • Mazzitelli, L.; Hancock, R.D.; Haupt, S.; McNicol, J.W.; Viola, R.; Brennan, R.M.; Hedley, P.E.; Taylor, M.A. (2006) Understanding dormancy release in raspberry buds., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2006, pp32-33.
  • Atkinson, C.J.; Sunley, R.J.; Jones, H.G.; Brennan, R.M.; Darby, P. (2005) Winter chill in fruit., DEFRA Report No. CTC0206, London, 134pp.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Begg, G.S.; Brennan, R.M.; Fenton, B.; Gordon, S.C.; Griffiths, B.S.; Griffiths, D.W.; Hillier, J.; Malloch, G.; Squire, G.R.; Wheatley, R.E. (2002) Developing sustainable pest management strategies for a changing future., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2001/2002, pp184-189.
  • Fenton, B.; Malloch, G.L.; Brennan, R.M.; Birch, A.N.E. (2002) Evolution and adaptation of insects and mites to vegetation systems., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2000/2001, pp144-147.
  • Gillespie, T.; Brennan, R.M.; McNicol, R.J. (1999) Cultivar responses to long-cane fruit production in raspberry., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1998/99, pp105-109.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Gordon, S.L.; Lanham, P.G. (1998) Blackcurrant breeding and genetics., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1997/98, pp89-92.

  • Miller, T.W.; Jarret, D.A.M.; Brennan, R.M.; Hancock, R.D. (2016) Does primocane management affect raspberry fruit yield or anthocyanin content?, Acta Horticulturae, 1133, 363-369.
  • Hancock, R.D.; Jarret, D.; Morris, J.; Jorgensen L.; Verrall, S.R.; Hedley, P.E.; Brennan, R.M. (2013) Developing a transcriptomic and metabolomic map of blackcurrant fruit development for the identification of key genes associated with quality traits., UK PlantSci 2013, University of Dundee, Dundee, 16-17 April 2013.
  • Jarret, D.; Rowbottom, S.; Morris, J.; Jorgensen, L.; Verrall, S.R.; Hedley, P.E.; Brennan, R.M.; Hancock, R.D. (2013) Comparative transcriptome and metabolome analysis of developing blackcurrant seed provides an insight into pathway-specific gene-metabolite co-expression., Aspects of Applied Biology 119, 2013 Fruit and Roots: A celebration and forward look, East Malling Research, 6-7 November 2013.
  • Brennan, R.; Russell, J.; Jorgensen, L.; Abreu, I.; Gordon, S.; Jarret, D.; Hackett, C. (2012) Improving breeding efficiency in blackcurrant - the application of new selection techniques in ribes., In: Tanovic, B. (ed.). Proceedings of the Xth International Rubes and Ribes Symposium. Acta Horticulturae, 946, 157-160.
  • Mitchell, C.; Graham, J.; Johnson, S.N.; Karley, A.J.; Woodhead, M.; Brennan, R.M.; Cooke, D.E.L.; (2012) How root traits of soft fruit help resist pest and pathogen attack., SSCR/Bulrush Event, Dundee.
  • Foito, A.; Conner, S.; Brennan, R.; Gordon, S.; Faby, R.; Nes, A.; Andersen, L.; Svensson, B.; Rumpunen, K.; Pedersen, H.L; Williams, M.; Stewart, D. (2012) Climafruit:Transnational trial., SSCR Winter Meeting, Invergowrie, 15 February 2012.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Russell, J.R.; Jorgensen, L.; Abreu, I.N.; Jarret, D.; Gordon, S.; Hackett, C.A. (2011) Improving breeding efficiency in blackcurrant - the application of new selection techniques in Ribes., Acta Horticulturae, 946, 157-160.
  • Jennings, N.; Ferguson, L.; Brennan, R.M.; Graham, J. (2011) Marker assisted breeding in the UK raspberry breeding programme., Xth International Rubus and Ribes Symposium, Zlatibor, Serbia, 22-26 June 2011.
  • McCallum, N.; Woodhead, M.; Jorgensen, L.; Gordon, S.; Brennan, R.M.; Graham, J.; Rowland, L.J.; Olmstead, J.; Hackett, C.A.; Hancock, J.; Bassil, N. (2010) Developing tools for long-term breeding of blueberry germplasm for UK production., Proceedings of the North American Blueberry Research and Extension Workers Conference (NABREW), Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, 25-28 July 2010.
  • Jones, H.G.; Brennan, R.M. (2009) Potential impacts of climate change on soft fruit production: the example of winter chill in Ribes., COST 863 Euroberry Workshop on Berry Production in Changing Climate Conditions and Cultivation Systems, Geisenheim, Germany, 29-31 October 2008.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Gordon, S.C.; Shepherd, T.; Griffiths, D.W.; Robertson, G.; Woodford, J.A.T.; Brennan, R.M. (2009) Development of semiochemical attractants, lures and traps for raspberry beetle, Byturus tomentosus at SCRI; from fundamental chemical ecology to testing IPM tools with growers., IOBC Working Group, Lund, Sweden, 9-14 September 2007, IOBC Bulletin, Pheromones and other Semiochemicals in Integrated Production, 2009, 41, 75-78.
  • Jennings, S.N.; Ferguson, L.; Brennan, R.M. (2008) New prospects from the Scottish raspberry breeding programme., 9th International Rubus and Ribes Symposium, Pucon, Chile, 30 November - 7 December 2008, 777, 203-206.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Stewart, D.; Russell, J.R. (2008) Developments and progress in Ribes breeding., 9th International Rubus and Ribes Symposium. Pucon, Chile, 30 November - 7 December 2007. Acta Horticulturae, 777, 49-56.
  • Stewart, D.; McDougall, G.J.; Brennan, R.M.; Graham, J.; Martinussen, I. (2007) Targets for nutritional enhancement in fruit: pitfalls, shortcuts and progress., PSE Congress Plants for Human Health, Helsinki, Finland, 26-29 August 2007.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Gordon, S.C.; Brennan, R.M.; Jennings, S.N.; Mitchell, C. (2007) Breeding for durable resistance to the large raspberry aphid, Amphorophora ideai, in field and protected raspberry plantations: Co-evolution and IPM., IOBC Working Group: Integrated Plant Protection in Fruit Crops, East Malling Research, 24-25 September 2007.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Gordon, S.C.; Shepherd, T.; Griffiths, D.W.; Robertson, G.; Brennan, R.M. (2007) Development of semiochemical attractants, lures and traps for raspberry beetle, Byturus tomentosus at SCRI; from fundamental chemical ecology to testing IPM tools with growers., IOBC Working Group: Integrated Plant Protection in Fruit Crops, East Malling Research, 24-27 September 2007.
  • Gordon, S.C.; Birch, A.N.E.; Brennan, R.M.; Graham, J.; Barker, H.; Dolan, A.; Jennings, S.N. (2006) Predicted developments in cane and bush fruit pest and disease management in Europe, with special reference to high health planting stock, genomics and plant breeding., Cost 863 Euroberry, Zagreb, Croatia, 19-22 April 2006.
  • Hein, I.; Williamson, S.; Russell, J.R.; Graham, J.; Brennan, R.M.; Powell, W. (2004) Development of genomic resources for red raspberry: BAC library construction, analysis and screening., Plant and Animal Genome Conference (PAG) XII Proceedings, San Diego, California, 10-12 January 2004, 109.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Gordon, S.C.; Fenton, B.; Malloch, G.; Mitchell, C.; Jones, A.T.; Griffiths, D.W.; Brennan, R.M.; Graham, J.; Woodford, J.A.T. (2004) Developing a sustainable IPM system for high value Rubus crops (raspberry, blackberry) for Europe., Acta Horticulturae, 649, 289-292.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Gordon, S.L. (2003) Future perspectives in blackcurrant breeding., Conference Proceedings for Rubus-Ribes Symposium, 585, 39-46.
  • Graham, J.; Hein, I.; Russell, J.R.; Woodhead, M.; Gordon, S.C.; Smith, K.; Jorgensen, L.; Brennan, R.; Powell, W. (2003) The use of genomics technologies in contemporary Rubus and Ribes breeding programmes., Acta Horticulturae, 649, 319-322.
  • Jennings, N.; Brennan, R.M.; Gordon, S.C. (2003) Commercial breeding for pest and disease resistance in cane and bush fruits., Integrated Protection of Fruit Crops (Soft Fruits), Dundee, 18-21 September 2001.
  • Ruiz del Castillo, M.L.; Dobson, G.; Brennan, R.M.; Gordon, S. (2002) Fatty acid composition in seeds of blackcurrant genotypes., Proceedings of the 8th International Rubes and Ribes Symposium, Volume 1 and 2. Acta Horticulturae, 585, 531-533.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Gordon, S.L.; Williamson, B. (eds.) (2002) Proceedings of 8th International Rubus and Ribes Symposium., International Society for Horticultural Science, Leuven, The Netherlands, Acta Horticulturae, 585.
  • Jennings, S.N.; Brennan, R.M. (2001) Improvement of raspberry cultivars in Scotland., Proceedings of 8th International Rubus and Ribes Symposium, Dundee, 4-11 July 2001.
  • Jones, A.T.; Brennan, R.M.; McGavin, W.J.; Kumar, L.P.; Fenton, B.; Lemmetty, A. (1999) Resistance to the causal agent of blackcurrant reversion disease and to its gall mite vector provides effective control of these organisms in the field, but for how long?., Abstracts of the VIIth International Plant Virus Epidemiology Symposium, Aguadulce (Almeria), Spain, 11-16 April 1999, pp150-151.
  • Harrison, R.E.; Morel, S.; Brennan, R.M.; Hunter, E.A.; Muir, D.D. (1999) Genotypic environmental and processing effects on the sensory character of Rubus and Ribes., Acta Horticulturae, 505, 25-31.
  • Gillespie, T.; Brennan, R.M.; Raffle, S.; McNicol, R.J. (1998) Environmental factors affecting long-cane raspberry production., Proceedings of the ADAS/HRI/EMRA Soft Fruit Conference 'New Developments in the Soft Fruit Industry', November, pp150-154.
  • Brennan, R.M.; Gordon, S.; Williamson, B. (1998) The impact of breeding and genetics on berry fruit quality., Agri-Food Quality II - Quality Management of Fruits and Vegetables, Cambridge, Royal Society of Chemistry, 353-356.
  • Jones, A.T.; Angel-Diaz, J.E.; Mayo, M.A.; Brennan, R.M.; Ziegler, A.; McGavin, W.J.; de Nova, C.; Graham, J.; Lemmetty, A. (1998) Recent progress towards control of two important viruses and their variants in small fruit crops in Europe., Acta Horticulturae, 471, 87-92.

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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.