School of plant biology research Project ideas for Prospective 4th

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part of the solution to the peak oil crisis - Camelina sativa is an alternative oilseed with very high levels of Omega-3 and promise as a low-input biofuel feedstock. We have imported a range of exciting lines from Russia which need to be further characterized. We can offer projects in C. sativa related to genetics (molecular mapping; genome size determination), plant breeding (crossing and mutation for improving oil qualities), agronomy (classical field trials to determine performance of lines under diverse growing conditions) and biotechnology (development of doubled haploids). We also need to further explore its application in industry, cosmetics and healthfoods and can provide targeted projects in these areas.

NB. Camelina was the research subject of the WA regional finalist of the BioGENEius competition for 2010.
Y Test tube breeding…In vitro flowering of a range of oilseeds flowering and seed set can be induced in vitro from stem cuttings without rooting. This enables us to fast-track breeding by reducing generation time. Factors such as temperature, light spectrum and length of exposure and culture medium are all important in protocol development. An excellent opportunity to develop a protocol with significant industry outcomes within the timeframe of a fourth year project.
Y Why use exotics when the locals may be just as good? Tissue culture of native legumes investigate the potential for using biotechnology tools for plant improvement in some of Australia’s native pasture legumes especially those with promise for adaptation to broad acre farming systems (spp. Cullen, Kennedia, etc.). In collaboration with Dr Megan Ryan and Mr Richard Bennett (UWA).
If you are interested in any of these topics, or have suggestions related to these areas (cell biology/ in vitro

culture/ utilisation of novel species), please send me an email or drop by my office for a chat.


Room 1.159 Central Agriculture wing; Ph: 6488 1233; Email:
Honours/MSc Projects in 2015:
Herbicide tolerance in grain legumes
Herbicides are one of very important elements of modern agriculture. They have played very important role in weed management, thus increasing crop production. Improving herbicide tolerance means increase in food security. We have grain legumes (narrow-leafed lupin) mutants with increased herbicide tolerance. They are excellent materials to investigate the mechanisms of tolerance.

  • Mechanisms of non-target-site metribuzin tolerance in lupin mutants

Metribuzin affects photosynthesis of plants. We have several genotypes (mutants and wild types) of three distinctive levels of metribuzin tolerance (highly tolerant to susceptible). They are excellent genetic materials to answer questions like: Do these different tolerance levels relate to different photosynthetic rates? Do external environments have impact on them? In collaboration with Associate Professor Qin Yu of AHRI, School of Plant Biology.
Si, P. Pan, G and Sweetingham M (2011) Semi-dominant genes confer additive tolerance to metribuzin in narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.) mutants. Euphytica 177, 411 -418. DOI 10.1007/s10681-010-0278-9

Si P. Buirchell, B. and Sweetingham, MW. (2009) Improved metribuzin tolerance in narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.) by induced mutation and field selection. Field Crops Research, 113, 282- 286

  • Genetic variation in lupin germplasm with tolerance to a number of herbicides

Higher tolerance and multiple tolerance to diverse range of herbicides are required for the effective weed management. The lupin germplasm is very diverse and it offers great opportunity to identify tolerant accessions. This is an excellent honours project and we have published 4th year project in scientific journal.
Si, P. Sweetingham, MW. Buirchell, B. Bowran, D. and Piper T. (2006) Genotypic variation on metribuzin tolerance in narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.). Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 46, 85-91
Si, P. Yan, G, Kemsan, MA and Adhikari KN (2012) Genotypic variation of metribuzin and carfentrazone-ethyl tolerance among yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus L.) germplasm. New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science 40, 43-54.

Adapting lupin to cooler winter conditions

Improvement in lupin’s early growth cold temperature would improve lupin adaption into cooler winter growing regions. Narrow-leafed lupin has been well adapted to the northern crop growing regions with warmer winter temperature. In collaboration with Dr Jens Burgess, CSIRO.
Si, P. and Thurling, N. (2001) Genetic improvement of pre-anthesis growth of turnip rape (Brassica rapa L.) at low temperature. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 52, 653-660

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