Research

At a fundamental level we study plant development, structure and function. Using physiological, molecular, genomics, metabolomics and phenomics tools, we investigate the impact of past and present climate variability and other biotic and abiotic stress factors to help us address emerging issues of productivity and genetic diversity.
  • How do plants grow and how can we grow them more efficiently?
  • How do crops, horticultural plants, shrubs and trees cope with environmental stress and climate change? Why are some more resilient than others?
  • What are the physiological, microbiological and biochemical responses of plants to wounding or damage? Can we lessen these reactions?
  • What are the impacts of environmental change on plant nutritional and anti-nutritional content, and are there implications for plant consumers?
  • How do climate change and forest management practices impact on genetic diversity of plant populations?
  • How can physiological, biochemical and molecular tools help in sustainable crop production and the management of natural forests?
  • What is the molecular basis of wood formation and how can we improve this important renewable resource for a range of applications?
  • How can we protect Australia's iconic plants and important plant-based industries from pathogen invasion?
  • How can we harness physiological, biochemical and molecular knowledge to enhance sustainable food production on less on land, faster and using less water?
Girl looking at plants

Our efforts to help answer some of these and other questions are driven by the global challenges presented from a predicted dramatic increase in world population and a growing demand for food and fiber products which, in combination with climate change, will place more pressure on arable land as well as native forests and woodlands.

Novel and multidisciplinary collaborative research is needed and much hope is held for the possibilities created by recent advances made, for example, in crop and tree genomics, metabolomics, and phenomics research

While we investigate fundamental physiological and molecular processes that govern plant growth and development, many results of our research are directly applicable to

  • Fellow researchers, like for example our in vivo genetic transformation methods (Induced Somatic Sector Analysis, ISSA);
  • Tree breeders and forest managers for example through the genome-wide identification of molecular markers for disease resistance and other commercially and ecologically important traits;
  • Crop producers by providing them with information on potential impacts of climate change and advice on adaptation options; and
  • The horticultural industry through for example our efforts towards improving fruit shelf-life.

More Crop and Tree Physiology, Molecular Biology and Genetics