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Professor John Hammond


Areas of interest

My main research interests focus on the elemental nutrition of plants, combining research into plant physiology, elemental nutrition and genetics. In crop systems, many of the elements required for plant growth are supplied as inorganic fertilisers, which have economic and environmental costs if not used appropriately. Much of my work concentrates on phosphorus, a non-renewable element. Over 80% of mined phosphorus is used in the production of food, most of which as fertilisers for crop production. Optimising the use of phosphorus will improve food security and mitigate negative environmental impacts of fertiliser overuse on local watercourses.

Research projects

Using molecular biology, plant physiology, and genetics, I have lead and contributed to projects investigating the regulation of plant elemental composition and plant responses to nutrient deficiencies and toxicities, collaborating closely with Prof. Philip White (The James Hutton Institute) and Dr Martin Broadley (University of Nottingham). This research includes; (i) fundamental research into the transcriptional responses (activity of genes) in plants to elemental deficiencies and toxicities and investigating phylogenetic variation in plant elemental traits both within and between species. In particular, this has focused on plant responses to phosphorus deficiency, targeting improved fertiliser use for sustainable crop production (Hammond et al., 2003, 2005, 2011a; Fita et al., 2012), and the uptake of calcium, magnesium (Broadley et al., 2008b; Rios et al., 2012) and zinc in plants (Hammond et al., 2006; White et al., 2012). Recently, we have utilised expression QTL to identify genomic regions associated with plant responses to low P availability (Hammond et al., 2011b); (ii) applied agronomic solutions to reducing fertiliser inputs, such as demonstrating the potential for more sensitive fertiliser management through novel diagnostic technologies (Hammond et al., 2011a), placement of fertiliser into the rooting zone of the crop, trials of renewable sources of phosphorus, such as struvite, identifying crop varieties that use fertilisers more efficiently (Hammond et al., 2009) and the development of methods to rapidly screen crop root phenotypes associated with improved nutrient capture (Shi et al., 2013); (iii) research to inform decisions on national and international policy issues, such as the EU Water Frame Work Directive (White and Hammond 2009).


Career History:

I completed my PhD on the genetic regulation of plant responses to low phosphorus availability in 2004 at the University of Nottingham (UK), under the supervision of Prof. Philip White, Prof. Malcolm Bennett and Dr Martin Broadley. Following this, I worked as a post-doctoral research assistant with Philip White and then as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Warwick (UK). In 2010, I moved my lab to the University of Nottingham, before being awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship in 2011 with the School of Plant Biology at University of Western Australia, Perth. I have now returned to the UK to take up my current post in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development and the Centre for Food Security at the University of Reading. During my career I have published 44 refereed papers since 2003. I am currently serving as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology and a Consulting Editor for Plant and Soil and retain an Adjunct Senior Lecturers position at the University of Western Australia.


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