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Department of Biosciences

All Staff

Dr. Adrian Christopher Brennan, BA (Hons) Biological Sciences Oxford, D.Phil. Plant Sciences Oxford

Research Fellow in the Department of Biosciences

Contact Dr. Adrian Christopher Brennan


My research background is in plant population genetics and evolution with a particular focus on plant mating systems, and the molecular and quantitative genetics of adaptation and speciation. Following degree studies in Biological Sciences at Somerville College, Oxford University, I then completed a D.Phil. (PhD) in Plant Sciences, Oxford University, where I investigated the impacts of an invasive population history on the self-incompatibility (SI) mating system of S. squalidus (Oxford ragwort) in the UK. As part of my first postdoctoral position at Bristol University, I expanded this research by investigating the evolution of the SI mating system across an incompletely reproductively isolated species boundary between two Senecio species from Mount Etna, Sicily. In my subsequent postdoctoral position at St Andrews University, I investigated the selective forces and genetic targets responsible for divergent ecological speciation in this study system. More recently, I have researched speciation, population, and quantitative genetics in Begonia (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) and Arabidopsis (Estación Biológica de Doñana, EBD-CSIC, Seville) including dealing with new genetic technologies such as transcriptome analysis and high-throughput SNP genotyping.

Other Activities

Associate editor for AoB Plants:

Associate editor for Evolutionary Ecology:

Associate editor for Web Ecology:

Reviewing for scientific journals:

Durham Schools Science Festival 2015 exhibitor: How plants find a mate.

Research Interests

My primary research interests and experience are in ecological and quantitative genetics of hybridization, speciation, invasiveness, and plant reproductive systems. I am currently investigating the genetic basis and evolution of mating system and other adaptive trait variation in the genus Linum (flax/linseed) using a combination of transcriptome sequencing and genotyping by sequencing. I am also involved in collaborative research studying rapid evolution in invasive Centaurea solstitialis (yellow starthistle) and the population genetics of Vulpes vulpes (red fox) in the UK.

Group members

2014-present Ali Foroozani, PhD student

2016-present Ramona Irimia, PhD student (2nd supervisor)

2016-present Jessie Lauze, PhD student (2nd supervisor)

2016-present Ellie Desmond, MSc student

Past members

2015-2016 Courtney Neal, MBiol student (2nd supervisor)

2014-2015 David Whittle, MSc student (2nd supervisor)

Available projects

The following projects are all for the next academic year starting in October 2017. The application deadlines are January 5th 2017. Please contact me via the link at the top of this page to request more details if any of these projects interest you or if you would like to discuss developing future projects with me.

  • MBiol (current level 3 Durham Biosciences students only): Assessing the agronomic potential of natural genetic variation in flax
  • MBiol (current level 3 Durham Biosciences students only): Functional variation in red fox genetics (2nd supervisor)
  • International competitively funded PhD: The agronomic potential of natural genetic variation in wild flax
  • UK competitively funded PhD: The evolution of inbreeding depression in wild flax and implications for crop development
  • UK competitively funded PhD: Environmental Change and the Vegetation of the Moor House-Upper Teesdale NNR (2nd supervisor)
  • UK competitively funded PhD (based at Stirling University): Ecology and function of buzz-pollination in bumblebees (2nd supervisor)


  • Level 1: Molecular Biology
  • Level 2: Evolution
  • Level 3: Crops for the Future

Past teaching

  • Level 1: Skills for Biosciences, Genetics
  • Level 3: Fieldcourse

Research Groups

  • Molecular Plant Sciences

Selected Publications

Journal Article

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