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Dr Adrian Brennan

Associate Professor

Associate Professor in the Department of Biosciences



2018 – now Assistant Professor, University of Durham, UK

2013 – 2018 Research Fellow in Plant Sciences, University of Durham, UK

2011 – 2013 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC), Sevilla, Spain

2010 – 2011 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK

2007 – 2010 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of St Andrews, UK

2004 – 2007 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Bristol, UK


1999 – 2003 DPhil (PhD), University of Oxford, UK “Population genetics of sporophytic self-incompatibility (SSI) in the British colonising species, Senecio squalidus

1996 – 1999 BA Biological Sciences Honours Degree, University of Oxford, UK

Other Activities

Biosciences Academic Director of Durham Botanic Garden 2022 to present

Biosciences Academic Advice Coordinator 2018 to present.

Biosciences International Exchange Coordinator 2018 to present

Durham Botanic Garden Biosciences Research Demonstration Plot 2017 to now: Flax common garden experiment.

Durham Schools Science Festival Exhibition 2015 to 2018: How plants find a mate.

Associate editor for Frontiers in Plant Science:

Associate editor for AoB Plants:

Associate editor for Evolutionary Ecology:

Associate editor for Web Ecology:

Reviewing for scientific journals:

Research Interests

I am interested in the evolution of genomes and quantitative trait architecture in response to a range of selection pressures. I have experience studying this question in a range of the contexts including; hybridization, speciation, invasiveness, and breeding systems in several plant species through my postdoctoral projects. As an independent researcher in the Biosciences Department, Durham University, I have been developing new projects in the genus Linum (flax/linseed) to test how selection shapes the genetic architecture of a range of traits including; distylous breeding systems, local adaption, and domestication traits using a combination of high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing and growth experiments in the field and glasshouse. My other active collaborations include rapid evolution in invasive Centaurea solstitialis (yellow starthistle) and genetic variation in wild relatives and landraces of wheat and chickpea.

Available positions

I am looking for interested candidates for competitive PhD project applications that would start in Oct 2023. Please contact me to discuss further. The available projects are:

"Development of wild crop relative genetic resources to fine tune crop flowering time"

"The importance of location of origin for wildflower seed mixes"

Current group members

2022-present Jon Foster, MBiol student

2021-2021 Misbah Naseem, Pakistan IRSIP visiting PhD student

2018-present Rico Habeahan, BBSRC PhD student

Past group members

2020-2021 Callum Bennett, MBiol student

2017-2020 Lewis Edwards, MSc student

2019-2020 Sarah Lunt, MBiol student

2019-2019 M Eren Tedik, ERASMUS placement from Bogazici University, Turkey

2018-2019 Pilar Suarez Montes, Mexico CONACYT Fellow

2018-2019 Katy Brown, MBiol student

2016-2020 Ramona Irimia, FCT PhD student from Coimbra University, Portugal (2nd supervisor)

2014-2018 Alireza Foroozani, Durham PhD student

2017-2018 Rue Laidler, MBiol student

2016-2018 Ellie Desmond, MSc student

  • Level 2: Evolution
  • Level 3: Genomics (coordinator), Genes and Diversity workshop, Literature Review, Research Project, Contemporary issues in the Biosciences
  • Level 4: Research Skills

Past teaching

  • Level 1: Skills for Biosciences
  • Level 2: Genetics, Molecular Biology
  • Level 3: Fieldcourse, Crops for the Future


Journal Article

Supervision students