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Durham University

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

Assistant Professor 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 breeding systems. My current research lines include: the genetic basis and evolution of breeding systems (distyly and mixed mating) in the genus Linum (flax/linseed), locally adaptive trait variation in Linum bienne (pale flax), and the genetic architecture of hybrid incompatibility and other divergent traits between hybridizing Senecio species (ragworts). I am also involved in collaborative research studying rapid evolution in the invasive weed, Centaurea solstitialis (yellow starthistle), and the genetic variation of wheat (Triticum turgidum and T. aestivum) landraces from the middle east. My research methods include a combination of garden and glasshouse growing experiments, high throughput genotyping, and expression analysis.

Group members

2018-present Katy Brown, MBiol student

2018-present Pilar Suarez Montes, CONACYT Fellow

2018-present Rico Habeahan, BBSRC PhD student

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

2014-present Alireza Foroozani, Durham PhD student

Past members

2017-2018 Lewis Edwards, MSc student

2017-2018 Rue Laidler, MBiol student

2016-2018 Ellie Desmond, MSc student

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

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


  • Level 2: Evolution
  • Level 3: Crops for the Future, Genomics, Contemporary issues in the Biosciences, Genes and Diversity workshop

Past teaching

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

Research Groups

Department of Biosciences

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Show all publications