Professor Dan Sargent is Head of the Genetics, Genomics and Breeding department at NIAB East Malling in Kent. The department is focused on developing industry-leading varieties of strawberries, raspberries, apples and cherries, and delivering cutting edge genetics and genomics research to support variety development.
The research portfolio of the department includes:
- strawberry breeding – with programmes led by Adam Whitehouse and Abi Johnson
- raspberry and blackberry breeding – led by Feli Fernandez
- apple breeding – led by Amanda Karlstrom
- cherry breeding
- molecular breeding and technology deployment – led by Dr Suzanne Litthauer
- strategic fruit crop research
The department also hosts several PhD students, working on topics as diverse as developing machine-learning for breeding data collection, interpretation and analysis, the genetic control of meristem determination, the genetic control of flowering time, disease resistance mechanisms and plant-pathogen interactions.
Professor Sargent’s own research interests lie in the molecular genetics and genomics of Rosaceous species and their wild relatives, focussing on understanding the genetic basis of complex traits of agronomic importance. These include fruit quality, fecundity and flowering time, and disease resistance, with a view to developing practical tools for plant breeding and selection. He has been part of international consortia that have sequenced several major Rosaceous genomes, including the diploid strawberries (Fragaria vesca and F. nilgerrensis), red raspberry (Rubus ideaus), blackberry (R. argutus), and wild Rosaceous species such as Potentilla micrantha, and has been at the forefront of marker development and deployment in fruit crop breeding over the last 20 years.
Prior to joining NIAB , Professor Sargent worked at the Fondazione Edmund Mach in Italy, where he led the Applied Rosaceous Genomics group, and then spend several years working for Driscoll’s, the largest global supplier of soft-fruit, where he worked on marker development and deployment in strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry, as well as leading innovation in EMEA.
- Cárcamo de la Concepción M, Sargent DJ, Šurbanovski N, Colgan RJ, Moretto M (2021). De novo sequencing and analysis of the transcriptome of two highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivars ‘Bluecrop’ and ‘Legacy’ at harvest and following post-harvest storage. PLOS One 16: e0255139.
- Qi X, Ogden EL, Bostan H, Sargent DJ, Ward JA, Gilbert J, Iorizzo M, Rowland LJ (2021). High-density linkage map construction and QTL identification in a diploid blueberry mapping population. Frontiers in Plant Sciences 12: 692628 .
- Davik J, Aaby K, Buti M, Alsheikh M, Šurbanovski N, Martens S, Røen D, Sargent DJ (2020). Major-effect candidate genes identified in cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) for ellagic acid deoxyhexoside and pelargonidin-3-O-malonylglucoside biosynthesis, key polyphenolic compounds. Horticulture Research 7: 125.
- Sargent DJ, Buti M, Šurbanovski N, Brurberg MB; Alsheik M, Lien S, Kent M, Davik, J, (2019). Identification of a QTL for powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis; syn. Sphaerotheca macularis f. sp. fragariae) susceptibility in cultivated strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa). PLOS One 14: e0222829.
- Buti M, Moretto M, Barghini E, Mascagni F, Natali L, Brilli M, Lomsadze A, Sonego P, Giongo L, Alonge M, Velasco R, Varotto C, Surbanovski N, Borodovsky M, Ward JA, Engelen K, Cavallini A, Cestaro A, Sargent, DJ (2018). The genome sequence and transcriptome of Potentilla micrantha and their comparison to Fragaria vesca (the woodland strawberry). GigaScience 7: 1-14.
Full publication list
ORCID Ref: 0000-0002-6686-7147