Professor Patrick Heslop-Harrison

Professor of Plant Cell Biology and Molecular Cytogenetics

Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison headshot

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology, Department of



Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison co-leads the University of Leicester’s research group investigating the genomics and evolution of plants and animals with a focus on improving food security and delivering the United Nations UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our collaborative work is being used to help develop new crops, improve the environment and conserve biodiversity, as well as address fundamental issues in plant and animal evolution. We are driving positive change when it comes to the sustainability of our planet.

How many societal problems can be solved just through an organism’s design? With plants, the answer is a lot. Professor Heslop-Harrison is a professor of Plant Cell Biology and Molecular Cytogenetics, which means that he regularly re-engineer the genetic makeup of plants to solve a specific problem. We can make a farmer’s crops immune to disease, we can create crops that provide a higher yield, and we can create grasses that provide more sustainable food for cattle farmers. Using genetics, we can help to alleviate the world of poverty, reduce damage to the environment and put an end to hunger.


Molecular cytogenetics, genomics, chromatin, biodiversity and its exploitation, bioinformatics, retrotransposons, repetitive DNA structure, evolution and function, cereals, bovids, model plant and animal species, tropical crops.


Wang Z, Rouard M, Biswas MK, Droc G, Cui D, Roux N, Baurens FC, Ge XJ, Schwarzacher T, Heslop-Harrison JS, Liu Q 2022. A chromosome-level reference genome of Ensete glaucum gives insight into diversity, chromosomal and repetitive sequence evolution in the Musaceae. Gigascience March 2022. and bioRxiv. 2021

Ran Li, Mian Gong, Xinmiao Zhang, Fei Wang, Zhenyu Liu, Lei Zhang, Mengsi Xu, Yunfeng Zhang, Xuelei Dai, Zhuangbiao Zhang, Wenwen Fang, Yuta Yang, Huanhuan Zhang, Weiwei Fu, Chunna Cao, Peng Yang, Zeinab Amiri Ghanatsaman, Niloufar Jafarpour Negari, Hojjat Asadollahpour Nanaei, Xiangpeng Yue, Yuxuan Song, Xianyong Lan, Weidong Deng, Xihong Wang, Ruidong Xiang, Eveline M. Ibeagha-Awemu, Pat (J.S.) Heslop-Harrison, Johannes A. Lenstra, Shangquan Gan, Yu Jiang. 2021. The first sheep graph-based pan-genome reveals the spectrum of structural variations and their effects on tail phenotypes. bioRxiv 2021.12.22.472709; doi:

Zhou S, Richert-Pöggeler KR, Wang Z, Schwarzacher T, Heslop-Harrison JS, Liu Q. 2022. High throughput RNA sequencing discovers symptomatic and latent viruses: an example from ornamental Hibiscus.  bioRxiv 2022.01.25.477650; doi:

Liu Q, Yuan HY, Li MZ, Wang ZW, Cui DL, Ye Y, Sun Z, Tan X, Schwarzacher T, Heslop-Harrison JS. 2022. Chromosome-scale genome assembly of the diploid oat Avena longiglumis reveals the landscape of repetitive sequences, genes and chromosome evolution in grasses  bioRxiv 2022.02.09.479819; doi:

Mustafa SI, Schwarzacher T, Heslop-Harrison JS. 2022. The nature and chromosomal landscape of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) integrated in the sheep nuclear genome. DNA (subject to revision) bioRxiv 2022.02.11.480048; doi:

Tomaszewska P, Vorontsova MS, Renvoize SA, Ficinski SZ, Tohme J, Schwarzacher T, Castiblanco V, de Vega JJ, Mitchell RA, Heslop-Harrison P. 2022. Complex polyploid and hybrid species in an apomictic and sexual tropical forage grass group: genomic composition and evolution in Urochloa (Brachiaria). Annals of Botany, mcab147 . doi:10.1093/aob/mcab147

Higgins J, Tomaszewska P, Pellny TK, Castiblanco V, Arango J, Tohme J, Schwarzacher T, Mitchell RA, Heslop-Harrison JS, De Vega JJ. 2021. The five Urochloa spp. used in development of tropical forage cultivars originate from defined subpopulations with differentiated gene pools. BioRXiv 2021.07.21.453213. doi:10.1101/2021.07.21.453213

Hanley SJ, Pellny TK, de Vega JJ, Castiblanco V, Arango J, Eastmond PJ, Heslop-Harrison JSP, Mitchell RAC. 2021. Allele mining in diverse accessions of tropical grasses to improve forage quality and reduce environmental impact. Annals of Botany Sep 7;128(5):627-637. doi:10.1093/aob/mcab101

Richert-Pöggeler KR, Vijverberg K, Alisawi O, Chofong GN, Heslop-Harrison JSP, Schwarzacher T. 2021. Participation of multifunctional RNA in replication, recombination and regulation of Endogenous Plant PararetroViruses (EPRVs). Frontiers in Plant Science Jun 21;12:689307. doi:10.3389/fpls.2021.689307

Barile FA, Berry SC, Blaauboer B, Boobis A, Bolt HM, Borgert C, Dekant W, Dietrich D, Domingo JL, Galli CL, Gori GB, Hengstler JG, Heslop-Harrison P, Kacew S, Marquardt H, Mally A, Pelkonen O, Savolainen K, Testai E, Tsatsakis A, Vermeulen NP. 2021. The EU chemicals strategy for sustainability: in support of the BfR position. Archives of Toxicology Sep;95(9):3133-6. doi:10.1007/s00204-021-03125-w

Barile FA, Berry SC, Blaauboer B, Boobis A, Bolt HM, Borgert C, Dekant W, Dietrich D, Domingo JL, Galli CL, Gori GB, Hengstler JG, Kacew S, Marquardt H, Pelkonen O, Savolainen K, Heslop-Harrison JS, Tsatsakis A, Vermeulen NP. 2021. Critique of the "Comment" entitled "Pyrethroid exposure: Not so harmless after all" by Demeneix et al. (2020) published in the Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology. Toxicology Letters Apr 1;340:1-3. doi:10.1016/j.toxlet.2020.12.020

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