The James Hutton Institute is an international research centre based in Scotland. The work we do is right at the top of the global agenda and involves tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems including the impact of climate change and threats to food and water security.

The James Hutton Institute was formed on 1 April 2011 when the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and SCRI (Scottish Crop Research Institute) joined forces to create a world leading research institute for land, crops, water and the environment.  The Institute also oversees BioSS (Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland) and the University of Dundee, Division of Plant Sciences is based in our Dundee site.

The Institute has its main offices in Aberdeen and Dundee. We also operate farms or field research stations at Glensaugh in Aberdeenshire, Hartwood in Lanarkshire and Balruddery, near Fowlis in Angus. Balruddery is also home to the Centre for Sustainable Cropping.

The James Hutton Institute receives funding from a range of sources each year. Approximately two thirds of its funding comes from the Scottish Government and the Government for scientific research work packages. The Institute also receives funding from European Union sources, competitive government research contracts and commercial contracts.

The following are staff at the James Hutton Institute that are involved in the Impromalt project.

Luke Ramsay

Luke-Ramsay_0My main interest is in the patterns of genetic variation shown by elite barley cultivars and the use of this information to gain insights into the control of characters of economic, agronomic and environmental importance. Patterns of genetic variation shown by current elite barley varieties are influenced by both the population history of recent breeding programme objectives (introduction of disease resistance genes etc.) and also by more fundamental constraints of the genetics and genome architecture of barley that also form a focus of my research.

Visit Luke’s webpage – for more information.


 Joanne Russell


Understanding genetic diversity in natural and agricultural systems is a major challenge and has been the main focus of my research. Since my original research examining diversity in a collection of cultivated accession using a handful of nuclear and chloroplast markers, we have seen a major shift in the types of markers and approaches we use to analyse and describe diversity. With the advances provided by Next Generation Sequencing, we have developed large numbers of genetically mapped gene-based markers allowing unprecedented coverage of the barley genome, and an SNP platform that is being used extensively by the European and North American barley community for core genotyping. We have also used these markers to examine SNP diversity in geographically matched landraces and wild barleys in the Fertile Crescent, in collaboration with colleagues from ICARDA and the University of Minnesota. Furthermore, we are beginning to use this type of genetic data with environmental niche modelling to examine evolution and domestication in barley. By combining modelling approaches with the powerful genomics tools we have developed for barley, means that we can begin to address the genetics of fitness and adaptation.

Visit Joanne’s webpage – for more information.

Paul Shaw

Paul-Shaw_0The increasingly diverse range of data-types that are being used in modern plant genetics is a problem, both how data is stored, and how scientists can query and visualize in scientifically meaningful ways. My primary research focus is on how we efficiently store and query large datasets and investigating how user interfaces can allow researchers access to this data in ways that allow increased scientific value to be gained. I am particularly interested in how we can increase the overall data quality of data-sets through error identification and the development of electronic data capture and reference applications (mobile-based) to aid field scientists. Any problems we can reduce at the data capture stage ensures high data quality for downstream processing and analysis.

Visit Paul’s webpage – for more information.

Robbie Waugh


My research focuses on developing and applying the resources necessary to enable genetic analysis to single-gene resolution in cultivated barley. I have concentrated on three major research elements:

  • assembling and utilising germplasm suited to high-resolution genetic analysis
  • developing molecular tools and approaches that facilitate gene identification and validation
  • contributing to international efforts to derive a reference barley genome sequence.

I explore areas of biology that are both academically and practically interesting and that have resulted in either historical advances during the process of domestication, cultivation, and breeding and/or offer further potential for improvement in the future. I am particularly interested by the translational potential of genetics/genomics in crop improvement.

Visit Robbie’s webpage – for more information.