Strategic programmes.

Integrated research to deliver scientific, cultural and social impact in food security and health.

Understanding biological systems.

Our research faculty includes researchers with expertise in human, vertebrate, plant, and microbial genomics, who work together with computational and systems biology experts to deliver comprehensive and integrated analyses for traits of interest in economically important species. We are linking genome plasticity to gene regulatory variation, and regulatory network changes to phenotypic variation between strains, populations and species.

Through our multidisciplinary expertise, we are developing novel genome assembly and variant calling algorithms, improved gene annotation, and reconstruction and analysis of molecular networks to enable and transform research across food and health.

We are in the unique position to transfer the know-how from human and vertebrate systems directly to more complex species, such as crops, allowing us to make technological and analytical advances with international impact.

Our research is uniquely enabled by four National Capabilities, each delivering key support and infrastructure underpinning our scientific research. Our National Capabilities empower us to process, store, interpret and integrate data from computational analyses and support our proposed data-intensive research that embraces and confronts modern scientific challenges surrounding data scale and complexity.

Our Strategic Programmes.

The Earlham Institute has a single Core Strategic Programme “Genomics to Food Security” and is a partner on the cross-Institute “Designing Future Wheat” Institute Strategic Programme. Both strategic programmes align well with our focus on transformative technology and data driven biology by developing new tool and methods for the analysis of genomes.

Our Core Strategic Programmes.

The Earlham Institute's Core Strategic Programme (CSP) “Genomics to Food Security” translates achievements in decoding plant, microbial and non-animal genomes to help our understanding of complex traits in crops, aquatic species and microbes.

Our CSP is divided in to three complimentary work packages focusing on delivering computational methods for the study of complex genomes, the analysis of the impact of diversity on traits and phenotypes in species important for food security, and developing and implementing data standards and infrastructure for FAIR research data management.

This programme explores how natural selection and domestication have shaped the genomes of economically important species.

We are researching existing diversity among populations and species to characterise genomic regions underlying traits of interest. Key elements of this work include:

  • Selection in wild and domesticated populations
  • Impact of genetic bottlenecks associated with domestication
  • Co-evolution of host resistance and pathogen effector proteins

This programme seeks to identify and understand the functional roles of alleles in biological systems. By determining the effect of variation on allelic function within regulatory and host-microbe networks, we will deliver research impact across food sustainability, security and health.

This strategic programme uses new technologies, algorithms and standards to provide ‘omics data ready for analysis, interpretation and integration. Key areas include data standards, data integration, algorithms, and scientific and high-performance computing.

Core Strategic Programme Leadership.

The overall strategic programme is led by the Institute's Director, Prof. Neil Hall. Each of the three sub-programmes and the EI component of the cross-institute programme are led by members of our science faculty.

Overall Strategic Programme

Designing Future Wheat.

Addressing the grand challenge of providing a growing human population with adequate and nutritious food, against a background of changing global climatic conditions, requires the mobilisation of national and international wheat expertise.

The Designing Future Wheat programme coordinates expertise across BBSRC institutes with complementary university programmes across four linked themes to make sure researchers are well equipped to support the development of this crucial food crop. We are responsible for the improved data access and analysis theme, led by Rob Davey.

We will generate the underpinning data and subsequently develop the tools and resources, to form the UK national node of the global Wheat Information System, in order to bridge the gaps in current applications. Enabling computational analysis and interrogation for breeders and biologists, alongside the capture, curation and integration of reference data, will promote a ‘genomic supermarket’ to federate the wheat datasets required for large scale complex comparative analyses, and the dissemination of these data back to the research community.


  • Impact story

Multi-disciplinary science.

Our wide-ranging research into animal, plant and microbial genomics helps us improve breeding, withstand disease and enhance yields for future generations.

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