Projects are funded by competitive grants and many visitors come with their own funding sources. We have many opportunities to join our research projects. Many visitors return for extended periods, and they are listed under 'Collaborations' and under Research Group

Current projects at November 2009 include:

With EU: CROCUSBANK: to create, characterize and exploit a germplasm colleciton (bank) in crocus species, including saffron (Crocus sativus)

With IAEA (International Atomic Energy Authority): projects in radiation research and use of induced mutations in plant breeding and genetics


Former projects include (Links jump down the page)

Satellite DNA in Drosophila project with Dr Guto Kuhn are described here.

Malaysian Palm Oil Board Somaclonal Variation in Oil Palm

OECD - Brassica genome organization and evolution - Dr Karine Alix

Centromeres and Chromosomes in Sheep, Goats and Cows - Raquel Chaves

Microarray analysis of biodiversity


Somaclonal Variation in Oil Palm -

This project has been running for six years and involves work by Dr Maria Madon, Dr Sybille Kubis Dr Xana (AMMF) Castilho and Dr Alexander Vershinin with funding from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB, formerly Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia, PORIM:

Dr Maria Madon

Currently, Maria holds a position as a Senior Research Officer in Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). Main interests are on the  molecular cytogenetic studies of  the  oil palm E. guineensis, E. oleifera and their interspecific hybrids; involved in the efforts to produce doubled haploids in oil palm via anther and microspore culture; involved in the genomics research of oil palm; involved also in research on somaclonal variation of oil palm clones; uses molecular and also cellular biology techniques to assess the intraspecific hybrids of oil palm in particular the various origins of dura (D), pisifera (P) and the intraspecific hybrid DxP or tenera; involved also in the chromosome doubling project of oil palm in order to create variability.  From June 2003-June 2004, Maria is invited as an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Biology  Department, University of Leicester, UK.

Oil palm is a major crop species producing high quality oil used in many foods. All commercial palms are F1 hybrids between selections with small kernels (dura) and large kernels (pisifera), but the hybrids (tenera) show very high variation in oil yield with the best plants yielding 40% more than average. As a monocotyledonous species with a single growing apex, the plant cannot be multiplied vegetatively (e.g. by cuttings) so clonal propagation through tissue culture would be very important. Extensive research from the 1980s has been successful in regenerating plants from culture, but many of these show flowering abnormalities (mantling) that lead to fruit abortion and no yield – a form of somaclonal variation. While tissue culture procedures have improved over the years to circumvent the problems, there is no fundamental understanding of the cause of the abnormality nor of methods to avoid or diagnose it in tissue culture. This research project was one of several throughout the world set up to investigate the problem.

We are investigating large scale genomic changes that can contribute to the somaclonal variation observed: karyotype changes, repetitive DNA variation, and changes in retroelelement and methylation status.

Repetitive DNA sequences and their evolution in cows, goats, sheep and their wild relatives

A project in collaboration with Professor Henrique Guedes-Pinto and Raquel Chaves, UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal

International Atomic Energy Authority - IAEA - Joint FAO

Programme on Tropical Crops

One of the first projects which established our research area was supported by Professor Don Braben and the BP Venture Research Unit -