School of plant biology research Project ideas for Prospective 4th



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The use of high intensity phosphite techniques to control Phytophthora cinnamomi (Dieback)

Determination of the biology and epidemiology of Phytophthora cinnamomi, the major threat to the flora in the South Coast Region is important for implementing appropriate management options for the control of this pathogen. Further, understanding of the efficacy of high intensity phosphite for the control of P. cinnamomi would provide more options for the management of infested areas. The aim of this project is to advance our understanding of disease biology and epidemiology of P. cinnamomi in the native plant communities within the National Parks of the South Coast Region of Western Australia and to demonstrate the use of novel phosphite control techniques to reduce the impact of P. cinnamomi within the Threatened Ecological Communities of the Stirling Range National Park and Bell Track infestation in the Fitzgerald River National Park.

Further Information: Dr Chris Dunne, chris.dunne@dpaw.wa.gov.au

ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR MARK BRUNDRETT

Room 215 Botany Building; Ph 6488 2212; Email: mark.brundrettr@.uwa.edu.au
ENDANGERED WHEATBELT ORCHIDS

Quantify and understand habitat requirements and threatening processes impacting on a rare orchid in highly fragmented landscapes. Gain knowledge required for sustainable management and make direct contributions to recovery actions for an endangered species, while working in collaboration with DPaW and community groups.
ECOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF ORCHID FUNGAL ASSOCIATIONS

Discover the role of highly specific fungal interactions on the dispersal of on rare and common orchid species by investigating the distribution of compatible fungi in soils. Help us to gain a greater understanding of the habitat requirements of orchids by studying their fungi.
MYCORRHIZAL FUNGUS DIVERSITY IN A BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT

Investigate the diversity of the Glomalean fungi - the oldest group of true fungi, in our ancient landscapes (collaboration with Dr Susan Barker). Investigate diversity using a range of isolation and molecular techniques. Identify fungi with help from international collaborators.
ECOLOGY OF MYCORRHIZAL ASSOCIATIONS

Study ecological and functional aspects of mycorrhizal fungus associations in natural ecosystems, by investigating the relative dominance of plants with different types of mycorrhizal fungal associations in different habitats.
POLLINATION BIOLOGY OF WINTER FLOWERING ORCHIDS

Determine if co-flowering orchids share pollinators and investigate why there are many similar looking taxa in genera such are Pterostylis (or are they really different)? Is there a link between winter orchids and fungus fruiting?

THE UWA INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURE

The UWA Institute of Agriculture was established by the University of Western Australia (UWA) with a mandate to integrate agricultural and natural resource management, research, education, training and communication within and outside the university.
The Institute is a partnership between the four schools within the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (FNAS) and key agricultural, food and health, and biotechnology centres within and outside the Faculty within UWA.
The UWA Institute of Agriculture works with the agricultural and natural resource management sector to improve workforce skills, and to generate new knowledge that will assist the industry’s participants to advance their individual aspirations, underpin local and regional prosperity, and exercise responsible stewardship of the environment.
The Institute has five Programs: Integrated Land and Water; Animal Productions Systems; Plant Production Systems; Rural Economy, Policy and Development, and Education, Outreach and Technology Exchange.

These programs are structured to be, where possible, interdisciplinary, intersecting across the varied strengths of the Faculty’s Schools, Centres and discipline groups. The Institute’s programs focus on key themes relevant to future agricultural, food industry and natural resource management needs. Its responsibility is to maintain position of UWA Agricultural Sciences and related natural resource management as the national tertiary leader in the discipline area and in the top 50 agricultural faculties in the world.

HACKETT PROFESSOR KADAMBOT SIDDIQUE (kadambot.siddique@uwa.edu.au)
Our group aims to gain a greater understanding of the physiology of crops, particularly wheat, in response to the environment and climate change so that we can identify traits for developing improved varieties. We are especially interested in mechanisms controlling plant water use. Water is fundamental to plant growth and productivity and yet it is usually the most limiting resource. Most of the water taken up by plants is lost to transpiration so there is a constant challenge in acquiring and keeping water, particularly in dryland cropping environments.
Projects can involve lab, glasshouse or field work. If you have some ideas or you are interested in a relevant area not listed below, we are happy to discuss and develop a project with you. Some projects available include:
Wheat root architecture and water transport capacity (in collaboration with Dr. Jairo Palta, CSIRO)

Our previous research has shown that wheat roots absorb water preferentially within a few centimeters of the root tip. Wheat root systems with more branches and hence, more root tips should therefore have greater water transport capacity. To test this hypothesis, measurements of the hydraulic conductance and plant water relations of wheat genotypes with different root traits will be carried on plants grown is special root observation chambers.
Brachypodium distachyon as a model for wheat water relations

Brachypodium is an ideal model to study genes controlling water relations of cereal crops because it is a temperate grass species closely related to wheat and barley, and its genome has been sequenced. We have identified eight putative plasma membrane aquaporin genes in Brachypodium roots, some of which vary their expression diurnally in a pattern similar to changes in root hydraulic conductance. This project will test the role of aquaporins in regulating water flow through Brachypodium roots by inhibiting aquaporin activity. The function of the eight identified aquaporins will also be tested using heterologous expression systems (in collaboration with Prof. Steve Tyerman, University of Adelaide).


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