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Xinwei Chen

Staff picture: Xinwei Chen
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Molecular Geneticist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK



  • BSc (Agricultural Botany), Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China, 1985
  • PhD (Genetics), University of Cologne, Koeln, Germany, 2000

Current research interests

Leaf rust caused by Puccinia hordei is an important fungal disease on barley. Resistance of barley to leaf rust (Poccinia hordei) is genetically controlled by both single genes (R-genes) and multiple quantitative loci (QTL). Due to the short-term effectiveness of R-gene-mediated resistance, exploration and use of the durable partial resistance have become a more favorable strategy to control the disease. However, identification of the underlying genes through map-based approach is a process both cumbersome and time consuming.

The current project adapts a novel alternative approach termed as genetical genomics to investigate the genetic architecture of gene expression in barley after challenge with P. hordei through QTL analysis by treating the transcript abundance as a quantitative trait. The strategy is based on the assumption that if the phenotypic trait variation were caused by the genetic variation (QTL) through its effects on gene expression, the genetic determinants for the phenotype QTL would serve as cis expression QTL (eQTL) responsible for the expression variation of the gene itself. Thus, co-localisation of eQTL with resistance QTL can help directly point to the molecular basis and speed up the identification of causal genes underlying the partial resistance.

We have conducted an experiment using the two-channel Agilent microarray system in combination with the 'distant-pair' design for eQTL analysis. We recorded RNA transcript abundance corresponding to each probe on a 15K Agilent custom barley microarray in seedlings from Steptoe and Morex and their doubled haploid population. Analyses combining eQTL and pQTL mapping and conserved synteny with rice allowed us to prioritise six genes as candidates for Rphq11, the pQTL of largest effect, and highlight one, a phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (HvPHGPx) for detailed analysis. We are currently underway of validation through transformation by over- and down-expressing the candidate gene in Golden Promise.

Collaborator - Rients Niks, Laboratory of Plant Breeding Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Past research

  • April 2011-present: Genetics Programme, The James Hutton Institute, UK. Transcript genetics of barley.
  • 2006-April 2011: Genetics Programme, SCRI, UK. Transcript genetics of barley.
  • 2003-2006: Disease and Stress Biology Department, John Innes Centre, UK. Development and characterisation of Arabidopsis-F. graminearum patho-system.
  • 2001-2002: Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology (ICMB), University of Edinburgh. Identification and characterisation of Arabidopsis mutants involved in defense responses against biotrophic pathogens.
  • 1997-2000: PhD, Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Koeln, Germany. Mapping functional genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and transport in potato.


  • Chen, X.; Bayer, M.; Harrower, B.; Stevens, L.; Chapman, S.; Gilroy, E.; van Weymers, P.; Jupe, F.; Witek, K.; Jones, J.; Birch, P.; Bryan, G.; Hein, I. (2014) Using the potato genome to map and clone durable resistance genes more rapidly., Crop Protection in Northern Britain, Environmental Management and Crop Protection, West Park Conference Centre, Dundee, 25-26 February 2014.
  • Stevens, L.; Chapman, S.; Boevink, P.; Engelhardt, S.; Chen, X.; Birch, P.; Hein, I. (2014) Shuffling resistance genes to protect solanaceous plants., British Society for Plant Pathology Presidential Meeting, University of St Andrews, 1-2 September 2014.
  • Griffiths, B.S.; Chen, X.; Daniell, T.J.; Neilson, R.; O'Flaherty, V. (2011) Long-term effects of P fertiliser on nematode community structure assessed by molecular and morphological methods., 50th Annual Meeting of the Society of Nematologists, Corvallis, Oregon, USA, 17-20 July 2011 (Talk).
  • Waugh, R.; Marshall, D.F.; Druka, A.; Comadran, J.; Russell, J.R.; Chen, X.W.; Thomas, W.T.B.; Close, T.J.; Stein, N.; Ramsay, L. (2008) Genomic dissection of phenotypic variation in barley., BSPP Cereal Pathosystems Conference 2008, Queen Mary, University of London, 16-17 December 2008, p63.

  • Stevens, L,; Chapman, S.; Chen, X.; Engelhardt, S.; Birch, P.; Hein, I. (2012) The molecular characterisation of two gain-of-function R3a* variants., British Society for Plant Pathology Presidential Meeting, Norwich, 16-18 December 2012. (Poster)
  • Chen, X.W.; Hackett, C.A.; Niks, R.E.; Hedley, P.E.; Druka, A.; Marcel, T.C.; Waugh, R. (2010) eQTL analysis of partial resistance to Puccinia hordei Otth in barley., Plant & Animal Genome XVIII. San Diego, California, USA, 9-13 January 2010 (Abstract).

Printed from /staff/xinwei-chen on 19/04/24 09:54:16 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.