Faculty of Science

Feeding the world

A selection of current projects in this research theme is listed here.

We welcome you to discuss other research project ideas with us. To do this:
Domestic students can contact the Graduate Research Coordinator at the School or Centre in which you wish to undertake research.
International students can use our online enquiry form, which helps us match your research interests with a potential supervisor.

Optimising industrial hemp as a new fiber crop in evolving agriculture in Australia
This project aims to optimise the use of industrial hemp (iHemp) in Australian agriculture, in the poorly fertile and water deficient soils of the south west coast of Australia.
Nectar production in Western Australian Leptospermum species
To help develop a Western Australian medicinal honey industry, this project will use ecophysiological methods to determine how environmental and plant-internal factors influence nectar volumes and nectar quality.
Omics analyses of yield and yield components for improved wheat production
Our research goal is to employ genetics and omics tools to enhance wheat production, especially under dryland environment.
Which cellular cues regulate seasonal perception and shoot growth?
This project will investigate the convergence of oxygen, redox and energy cues in regulating the cell cycle in plant meristems. Studies can span several domains, from the apical meristem of Arabidopsis or tomato, to the axillary quiescent or dormant buds of perennial species.
Harnessing WA native Leptospermum for high value honey products
Leptospermum species native to Western Australia (WA) have been identified as potential sources of high DHA nectar, placing WA in a unique position for high value honey production. This project aims to determine the feasibility for genetic improvement of Leptospermum by studying its potential for flowering time compression and capacity for intra/inter-species gene flow to form the basis of future breeding programs.
Protein turnover to measure the role of degradation in the costs of cell function and the acclimation of plants to environments
The objective of this project is to use peptide mass spectrometry approaches to determine the turnover rate of specific plant proteins and follow up key observations with physiological, proteomic and metabolomic investigations in mutant lines altered in their protein degradation machinery.
What are the wheat proteins that define wheat quality, enable disease resistance and tolerate harsh environmental conditons?
This project will link to industry partners in assessing metabolic pathway expression in wheat tissues to develop protein markers for industry and learn about metabolic pathway responses linked to real world problems in improving grain production.
Understanding how salinity damages wheat and barley crops
This project will use proteomic techniques to build a more complete picture of global protein expression changes that occur in salt-stressed wheat or barley seedling roots using genetic resources that different in tissue tolerance to salt.
Discovering the roles for mitochondrial metabolite transporters in plants
This project will take a reverse genetics approach to the study of organic acid transporters and also other carriers that impact on the function of these transporters to understand the process of respiration in plants that occurs inside mitochondria.
Discovering how respiration effects plant development and defence signalling
The objective of this project is to use knockout and overexpressing lines of plant specific complex II subunits to characterise their functions at the physiological, proteomic and metabolomic levels and therefore to uncover the hidden role of these proteins and this respiratory pathway in plants.
Smoke alarm: Discovering new signalling compounds that operate in plants
Some chemicals released from smoke stimulate seed germination. Despite the fact that most plant species never experience fire, all plants have the genetic machinery to sense these chemicals. Why? We hypothesise that there are new compounds of biological origin with similar activity that are waiting to be discovered.
Exploiting chemical signals to boost plant performance
Combining molecular biology, traditional genetics and plant physiology, this project will investigate the function of a hormone-like signalling pathway that plants use to regulate seed germination and water use efficiency.
Improving decision making for crop pest biosecurity
In this project you will investigate what is the best response to new pest and disease threats to crop production systems.  These responses could include better border protection, surveillance or even crop varieties.
Secondary metabolite biosynthesis in plant pathogens
Using a combination of functional genomics and chemical/synthetic biology tools, this project aims to discover novel biological active compounds from fungal plant pathogens and investigate their roles in causing plant diseases.
Computational genomics: Understanding the genome
Using the latest computational tools and working with an expert team, you will analyse huge volumes of data, deciphering the genome to gain a greater understanding of plant genome evolution, diversity and help breed higher yielding climate resilient crops.
Geometric modelling of oxygen and water dynamics during dormancy in grapevine buds
Oxygen and water are fundamental substrates of life, yet the dormant state is hypoxic and dessicated. Why?
Subterranean clover genomic resources
This is a multi-agency, public and private sector project. It aims to develop a comprehensive pre-breeding research and development plan for annual legumes, to improve the profitability and sustainability of red meat production in Australia.
Revisiting Mendel's peas in the age of genomics
This project will generate a dynamic and evolving gene pool for field peas, as a model for efficient genomic selection in crop plants.
Characterisation of soil microbial interactions for increased efficacy of herbicides, using novel fertiliser management practices
This project will investigate whether herbicides influence soil biological processes when different types of fertilisers are used.
Hunting for new herbicides: The human connection
A connection between plants and drugs made for humans has led to the discovery of new herbicidal compounds, which this project will evaluate using a model plant system and by employing genetic, biochemical and physiological approaches.
Mitochondrial proteases in plants
This project aims to characterise the roles of mitochondrial proteases in development and in response to stresses, and to determine the modes of action of mitochondrial proteases at the molecular, biochemical and physiological levels.
Understanding the regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis
This project involves understanding the mechanisms involved in the regulation and coordination of mitochondrial biogenesis, with respect to vital developmental processes and functions.
Mitochondrial import of macromolecules
The outcome of this research will be to define and change how tRNA import is studied, and provide targets for the delivery of macromolecules to the mitochondrion.
Plants and climate change: How will they survive?
This project will investigate how plant metabolism adapts or could be engineered to allow plant to survive in hot and cold climates and in response to climate change.

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