Prof John Doonan

BSc Hons (Leeds), PhD (Leeds)

Prof John Doonan

Chair (DLM)

Contact Details


John Doonan has more than 25 years experience in genetics and developmental cell biology of plants and fungi. Before joining IBERS as Director of the National Plant Phenomics Centre , he was Group Leader at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Previous to that he worked at the Robert Wood Johnston Medical School in New Jersey, USA and obtained his PhD from Leeds University.



Plant growth underpins the productivity of both natural and agricultural ecosystems. Our group uses both induced (mutants) and natural variation in experimental model systems and wheat to understand how plants grow and respond to their environment. Current research focuses on cyclin dependent protein kinase targets (a) in the microtubule system and (b) in the protein translation machinery. We are developing high throughput high content phenotyping technologies at the National Plant Phenomics Centre that will allow the better exploitation of genomic-type information in the process of both gene discovery and plant breeding.

Our lab welcomes visiting students, post-doc and academics on short and longer term training visits. Please contact us by email.

Research is supported by grants from the BBSRC, Leverhulme, FP7, BEAA, and the Welsh Government.

Research Groups

  • Aberystwyth Centre for Space and Earth Monitoring



Marshall, A., Collins, R., Williams, K.S., Han, J., Corke, F., Doonan, J. 2017. Improving the nutrient use efficiency of perennial forage species to enhance the sustainability of grassland based agriculture. Aspects of Applied Biology 136 Sustainable Intensification. pp. 221-228.

Cooper, L., Meier, A., Laporte, M., Elser, J.L., Mungall, C., Sinn, B.T., Cabaliere, D., Carbon, S., Dunn, N.A., Smith, B., Qu, B., Preece, J., Zhang, E., Todorovic, S., Gkoutos, G., Doonan, J., Stevenson, D.W., Arnaud, E., Jaiswal, P. 2017. The Planteome database: an integrated resource for reference ontologies, plant genomics and phenomics. Nucleic Acids Research gkx1152 10.1093/nar/gkx1152

Hughes, N., Askew, K.L., Scotson, C.P., Williams, K.S., Sauze, C., Corke, F., Doonan, J., Nibau, C. 2017. Non-destructive, high-content analysis of wheat grain traits using X-ray micro computed tomography. Plant Methods

Bettgenhaeuser, J., Corke, F., Opanowicz, M., Green, P., Hernández-Pinzón, I., Doonan, J., Moscou, M.J. 2017. Natural Variation in Brachypodium Links Vernalization and Flowering Time Loci as Major Flowering Determinants. Plant Physiology 173 (1) pp. 256-268. 10.1104/pp.16.00813 Cadair

Humphreys, M., Collins, R., Marshall, A., Marley, C., Walawee, N.M., Doonan, J. 2017. Novel grasslands for agricultural production and flood mitigation. 19th EGF Symposium 2017.


Fisher, L., Han, J., Corke, F., Akinyemi, A., Didion, T., Nielsen, K.K., Doonan, J., Mur, L., Bosch, M. 2016. Linking dynamic phenotyping with metabolite analysis to study natural variation in drought responses of Brachypodium distachyon. Frontiers in Plant Science 7 1751 10.3389/fpls.2016.01751 Cadair

Camargo-Rodriguez, A., Mott, R., Kim, J.T., Bentley, A., Mackay, I.J., Gardner, K., Doonan, J., Corke, F. 2016. Determining phenological patterns associated with the onset of senescence in a wheat MAGIC mapping population. Frontiers in Plant Science 7 1540 10.3389/fpls.2016.01540 Cadair

Bush, M.S., Pierrat, O., Nibau, C., Mikitova, V., Zheng, T., Corke, F.M.K., Vlachonasios, K., Mayberry, L.K., Browning, K.S., Doonan, J. 2016. eIF4A RNA Helicase Associates with Cyclin-Dependent Protein Kinase A in Proliferating Cells and is Modulated by Phosphorylation. Plant Physiology 172 (1) pp. 128-140. 10.1104/pp.16.00435 Cadair

Humphreys, M., Loka, D., Gwynn-Jones, D., Scullion, J., Doonan, J., Gasior, D., Harper, J., Farrell, M., Kingston-Smith, A., Dodd, R., Chadwick, D., Hill, P., Mills, G., Hayes, F., Robinson, D., Jones, D. 2016. Climate-smart Strategies to Safeguard Persistency and Achieve Sustainable Grassland Production. 26th General Meeting of the EGF. Cadair

Boyle, R.D., Corke, F.M.K., Doonan, J.H. 2016. Automated estimation of tiller number in wheat by ribbon detection. Machine Vision and Applications 27 (5) pp. 637-646. 10.1007/s00138-015-0719-5 Cadair

Doonan, J., Boyle, R., Han, J., Williams, K.S., Alcalde Barrios, A., Strange, H., Corke, F., Nibau, C., Scotson, C.P., Camargo-Rodriguez, A., Zwiggelaar, R., Sturrock, C., Mooney, S. 2016. Image-based phenotyping to measure plant diversity and performance. Plant and Animal Genome Conference XXIV. Cadair


Bush, M.S., Crowe, N., Zheng, T., Doonan, J. 2015. The RNA helicase, eIF4A-1, is required for ovule development and cell size homeostasis in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal 84 (5) pp. 989-1004. 10.1111/tpj.13062 Cadair

Lou, L., Liu, Y., Shen, M., Han, J., Corke, F., Doonan, J.H. 2015. Estimation of Branch Angle from 3D Point Cloud of Plants. In M. Brown., J. Kosecka., C. Theobolt. (eds) 2015 International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV). 2015 International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV). IEEE Press pp. 554-561. 10.1109/3DV.2015.68

Kobayashi, K., Suzuki, T., Iwata, e., Chen, P., Ohtani, M., Ishida, T., Hosoya, H., Müller, S., Leviczky, T., Pettkó-Szandtner, A., Darula, Z., Iwamoto, A., Nomoto, M., Tada, Y., Higashiyama, T., Demura, T., Doonan, J., Hauser, M., Sugimoto, K., Umeda, M., Magyar, Z., Bögre, L., Ito, M. 2015. Transcriptional repression by MYB3R proteins regulates plant organ growth. EMBO Journal 34 (15) pp. 1992-2007. 10.15252/embj.201490899 Cadair

Strange, H., Zwiggelaar, R., Sturrock, C., Mooney, S., Doonan, J. 2015. Automatic Estimation of Wheat Grain Morphometry from CT Data. Functional Plant Biology 42 pp. 452-459. 10.1071/FP14068 Cadair


Zheng, T., Nibau, C., Phillips, D.W., Jenkins, G., Armstrong, S.J., Doonan, J.H. 2014. CDKG1 protein kinase is essential for synapsis and male meiosis at high ambient temperature in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (6) pp. 2182-2187. 10.1073/pnas.1318460111 Cadair

Gegas, V.C., Gay, A., Camargo, A., Doonan, J. 2014. Challenges of Crop Phenomics in the Post-genomic Era. In J. Hancock. (ed) Phenomics. Taylor & Francis pp. 142-171. 10.1201/b16437-8

Lou, L., Liu, Y., Sheng, M., Han, J., Doonan, J.H. 2014. A Cost-Effective Automatic 3D Reconstruction Pipeline for Plants Using Multi-view Images. In M. Mistry., A. Leonardis., M. Witkowski., C. Melhuish. (eds) Advances in Autonomous Robotics Systems: 15th Annual Conference, TAROS 2014, Birmingham, UK, September 1-3, 2014. Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 8717 Springer Nature pp. 221-230. 10.1007/978-3-319-10401-0_20

Lou, L., Liu, Y., Han, J., Doonan, J.H. 2014. Accurate Multi-View Stereo 3D Reconstruction for Cost-Effective Plant Phenotyping. In A. Campilho., M. Kamel. (eds) Image Analysis and Recognition: 11th International Conference, ICIAR 2014, Vilamoura, Portugal, October 22-24, 2014, Proceedings, Part II. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 8815 Springer Nature pp. 349-356. 10.1007/978-3-319-11755-3_39 Cadair

Gegas, V.C., Wargent, J.J., Pesquet, E., Granqvist, E., Paul, N.D., Doonan, J.H. 2014. Endopolyploidy as a potential alternative adaptive strategy for Arabidopsis leaf size variation in response to UV-B. Journal of Experimental Botany 65 (10) pp. 2757-2766. 10.1093/jxb/ert473 Cadair

Camargo-Rodriguez, A., Papadopoulou, D., Spyropoulou, Z., Vlachonasios, K., Doonan, J.H., Gay, A.P.Candela, H. 2014. Objective Definition of Rosette Shape Variation Using a Combined Computer Vision and Data Mining Approach. PLoS One 9 (5) pp. e96889. 10.1371/journal.pone.0096889 Other Cadair

Opanowicz, M., Vain, P., Draper, J., Parker, D., Doonan, J.H. 2014. Erratum to: Brachypodium distachyon: making hay with a wild grass: [Trends in Plant Science 13 (2008) 172–177]. Trends in Plant Science 19 (3) pp. 193. 10.1016/j.tplants.2014.01.012 Cadair

Hiwatashi, Y., Sato, Y., Doonan, J.H. 2014. Kinesins have a dual function in organizing microtubules during both tip growth and cytokinesis in Physcomitrella patens. Plant Cell 26 (3) pp. 1256-1266. 10.1105/tpc.113.121723 Cadair


Spadafora, N., Perrotta, L., Nieuwland, J., Albani, D., Bitonti, M.B., Herbert, R.J., Doonan, J.H., Marchbank, A.M., Siciliano, I., Lentz Grønlund, A., Francis, D., Rogers, H.J. 2012. Gene dosage effect of WEE1 on growth and morphogenesis from arabidopsis hypocotyl explants. Annals of Botany 110 (8) pp. 1631-9. 10.1093/aob/mcs223 Cadair

Spadafora, N.D., Parfitt, D., Marchbank, A., Li, S., Bruno, L., Vaughan, R., Nieuwland, J., Buchanan-Wollaston, V., Herbert, R.J., Bitonti, M.B., Doonan, J., Albani, D., Prinsen, E., Francis, D., Rogers, H.J. 2012. Perturbation of cytokinin and ethylene-signalling pathways explain the strong rooting phenotype exhibited by Arabidopsis expressing the Schizosaccharomyces pombe mitotic inducer, cdc25. BMC Plant Biology 12 (1) 45 10.1186/1471-2229-12-45 Other Cadair

Doonan, J., Howarth, C., Camargo-Rodriguez, A., Allison, G., Swain, G., Gay, A., Draper, J. 2012. EPPN: High throughput plant phenotyping facilities at Aberystwyth. EPPN Workshop. Other Cadair


Thole, V., Peraldi, A., Worland, B., Nicholson, P., Doonan, J.H., Vain, P. 2011. T-DNA mutagenesis in Brachypodium distachyon. Journal of Experimental Botany 63 (2) pp. 567-576. 10.1093/jxb/err333 Cadair

Vernoux, T., Brunoud, G., Farcot, E., Morin, V., Van den Daele, H., Legrand, J., Oliva, M., Das, P., Larrieu, A., Wells, D., Guédon, Y., Armitage, L., Picard, F., Guyomarc'h, S., Cellier, C., Parry, G., Koumproglou, R., Doonan, J.H., Estelle, M., Godin, C., Kepinski, S., Bennett, M., De Veylder, L., Traas, J. 2011. The auxin signalling network translates dynamic input into robust patterning at the shoot apex. Molecular Systems Biology 7 508 10.1038/msb.2011.39 Cadair

Vain, P., Thole, V., Worland, B., Opanowicz, M., Bush, M.S., Doonan, J.H. 2011. A T-DNA mutation in the RNA helicase eIF4A confers a dose-dependent dwarfing phenotype in Brachypodium distachyon. Plant Journal 66 (6) pp. 929-940. 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2011.04555.x Cadair

Pignocchi, C., Doonan, J.H. 2011. Interaction of a 14-3-3 protein with the plant microtubule-associated protein EDE1. Annals of Botany 107 (7) pp. 1103-1109. 10.1093/aob/mcr050 Cadair

Spadafora, N.D., Doonan, J.H., Herbert, R.J., Bitonti, M.B., Wallace, E., Rogers, H.J., Francis, D. 2011. Arabidopsis T-DNA insertional lines for CDC25 are hypersensitive to hydroxyurea but not to zeocin or salt stress. Annals of Botany 107 (7) pp. 1183-1192. 10.1093/aob/mcq142 Cadair

Kitsios, G., Doonan, J.H. 2011. Cyclin dependent protein kinases and stress responses in plants. Plant Signaling and Behavior 6 (2) pp. 204-209. 10.4161/psb.6.2.14835 Cadair


Bush, M.S., Hutchins, A.P., Jones, A.M., Naldrett, M.J., Jarmolowski, A., Lloyd, C.W., Doonan, J.H. 2009. Selective recruitment of proteins to 5′ cap complexes during the growth cycle in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal 59 (3) pp. 400-412. 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2009.03882.x Cadair

Wargent, J.J., Gegas, V.C., Jenkins, G.I., Doonan, J.H., Paul, N.D. 2009. UVR8 in Arabidopsis thaliana regulates multiple aspects of cellular differentiation during leaf development in response to ultraviolet B radiation. New Phytologist 183 (2) pp. 315-26. 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02855.x Cadair

Pignocchi, C., Minns, G.E., Nesi, N., Koumproglou, R., Kitsios, G., Benning, C., Lloyd, C.W., Doonan, J.H., Hills, M.J. 2009. ENDOSPERM DEFECTIVE1 Is a Novel Microtubule-Associated Protein Essential for Seed Development in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 21 (1) pp. 90-105. 10.1105/tpc.108.061812 Cadair


Opanowicz, M., Vain, P., Draper, J.H., Parker, D., Doonan, J.H. 2008. Brachypodium distachyon: making hay with a wild grass. Trends in Plant Science 13 (4) pp. 172-177. 10.1016/j.tplants.2008.01.007 Cadair

Kitsios, G., Alexiou, K.G., Bush, M., Shaw, P., Doonan, J.H. 2008. A cyclin-dependent protein kinase, CDKC2, colocalizes with and modules the distribution of spliceosomal components in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal 54 (2) pp. 220-235. 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03414.x Cadair


Kirk, K.E., Morris, N.R., Doonan, J.H. 1993. Either alpha-tubulin isogene product is sufficient for microtubule function during all stages of growth and differentiation in Aspergillus nidulans. Molecular and Cellular Biology 13 (8) pp. 4465-76. 10.1128/MCB.13.8.4465 Cadair


Engle, D.B., Osmani, S.A., Osmani, A.H., Rosborough, S., Xin, X.N., Morris, N.R., Doonan, J.H. 1990. A negative regulator of mitosis in Aspergillus is a putative membrane-spanning protein. Journal of Biological Chemistry 265 (27) pp. 16132-16137. Other Cadair


Traas, J.A., Doonan, J.H., Rawlins, D.J., Shaw, P.J., Watts, J., Lloyd, C.W. 1987. An actin network is present in the cytoplasm throughout the cell cycle of carrot cells and associates with the dividing nucleus. Journal of Cell Biology 105 (1) pp. 387-95. Cadair