Prof John Clifton-Brown



1993 Research Assistant, I.A.T.A., Florence, Italy.
1997-2000 Assistant co-ordinator to the European Miscanthus Improvement Project while based in University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart.
2000-2002 Term lecturer in Plant Physiology at Trinity College Dublin.
2002-2004 Site manager for the Greengrass and CCFLUX projects based at Teagasc, Carlow, Ireland.
2004 - present  To build up a UK Miscanthus breeding programme.

2011-2016 Research Group Leader for Breeding and Modelling

2016 - present Research Group leader for Plant Biology for the Sustainable Bioecononmy


I was recruited to IGER (which merged into IBERS in 2008) to lead the Miscanthus breeding programme in August 2004.

My background up to this date was in ecophysiology (incorporating agronomy and quantification of greenhouse gas fluxes). I have worked closely with breeders of other crops in IBERS where we share resources and expertise. Since 2004 we have managed to build up a complete breeding pipeline for Miscanthus from wild germplasm to commercially licenced Miscanthus hybrids (2019).

Breeding throws up many interesting scientific challenges to resolve such as flowering initiation and flowering synchronisation, pollination control, seed science, early plant development and long term yield. I have a strong interest in understanding GXE, in particular those traits relating to abiotic resilience, using both multi-location field trials and controlled environment experiments.



BA Natural Science, Trinity College Dublin (1989-92)
PhD Plant Physiology and Agronomy, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (1993-97)
Thesis title: The importance of temperature in controlling leaf growth of _Miscanthus_in Temperate Climates.

Awarded a personal chair in Miscanthus Breeding and Modelling in 2015.

Committee, editorial and other responsibilities

Regular reviewer of papers for Global Change Biology-Bioenergy (and guest editor), Industrial Crops and Products and Biomass and Bioenergy.



Miscanthus breeding, ecophysiology, climate change impacts and modelling.


Breeding programme
Public and privately funded work
Underpinning science for breeding

Public funding and many collaborations 

  • Flowering time
  • Water supply
  • Resource capture and allocation

Research Groups

  • Plant Breeding for the Future
  • Crops for sustainable energy and materials
  • Plant Phenomics & Controlled Environment Agriculture


Magenau, E, Kiesel, A, Clifton‐Brown, J & Lewandowski, I 2021, 'Influence of cutting height on biomass yield and quality of miscanthus genotypes', GCB Bioenergy.
Awty-Carroll, D, Hauck, B, Clifton-Brown, J & Robson, P 2020, 'Allelopathic and intraspecific growth competition effects establishment of direct sown Miscanthus', GCB Bioenergy, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 396-409.
Corinzia, SA, Scordia, D, Clifton-Brown, J, Mos, M, Testa, G, Ciaramella, BR, Calcagno, S, Piccitto, A, Cracroft-Eley, W & Cosentino, SL 2020, 'Biomass yield and quality of several lignocellulosic perennial grasses on marginal land', European Biomass Conference and Exhibition Proceedings, vol. 2020, pp. 228-233.
Winkler, B, Mangold, A, von Cossel, M, Clifton-Brown, J, Pogrzeba, M, Lewandowski, I, Iqbal, Y & Kiesel, A 2020, 'Implementing miscanthus into farming systems: A review of agronomic practices, capital and labour demand', Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 132, 110053.
Jensen, E, Shafiei, R, Ma, XF, Serba, DD, Smith, DP, Slavov, GT, Robson, P, Farrar, K, Thomas Jones, S, Swaller, T, Flavell, R, Clifton-Brown, J, Saha, MC & Donnison, I 2020, 'Linkage mapping evidence for a syntenic QTL associated with flowering time in perennial C4 rhizomatous grasses Miscanthus and switchgrass', GCB Bioenergy.
More publications on the Research Portal