School of plant biology research Project ideas for Prospective 4th

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Phenotyping for seedling and adult plant resistance to stagonospora nodorum blotch of wheat in a doubled haploid mapping population

Stagonospora nodorum blotch, caused by Phaeosphaeria nodorum (E. Muller) Hedjaroude, is a severe leaf pathogen throughout many wheat growing areas. Experiments comparing yields from fungicide-protected and unprotected plots show 30-50% reduction in yield due to the disease in Western Australia. Resistance has been associated with excessive plant height and late development and is often quantitative making recovery of well-adapted highly resistant types difficult. This project aims to evaluate resistance in a wheat doubled haploid population under controlled environment conditions both at seedling and adult plant stages. The eventual aim is to identify marker-trait associations and provide information on chromosomal regions contributing resistance to Stagonospora nodorum in wheat.

Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, Pasture Science Group, 3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6151 Ph: 9368 3879 Email:
Research Interests

As a participant of the Future Farm Industries CRC, my research interest is in perennial forage legume breeding. Specific projects can be developed to suit student’s interest within our breeding program in Tedera (Bituminaria bituminosa var. albomarginata). For further details please contact me by email:


The Department of Parks and Wildlife has the lead responsibility for conserving Western Australia’s biodiversity and the protection, sustainable use and enjoyment of the State’s natural environment. It provides a clear focus on key biodiversity conservation priorities, such as the recovery of threatened plants and animals, mitigation of threatening processes, such as introduced pest plants, animals and diseases, fragmentation and climate change, and sustainable use of our natural resources. We manage 27 million hectares covering the State’s national parks, marine parks, conservation parks, State forests and timber reserves, nature reserves, marine nature reserves and marine management areas. The department is also responsible for fire preparedness and pest animal and weed control on 89 million hectares of unallocated Crown land and unmanaged reserves.

The Plant Science and Herbarium Program is one of six thematic science programs within the Science and Conservation Division. Key research activities are focused on developing an improved understanding of factors and processes that are critical for the conservation of the State’s plant diversity, and taxonomic and molecular taxonomic studies on the State’s flora. Research outcomes are incorporated into conservation management to ensure the persistence of rare and threatened species, ameliorate key threats such as dieback and weeds, develop threatened species reintroduction methodologies and improve our understanding of genetic and ecological factors that are vital for the long term viability of plant species.

RESEARCH THEME: Genetic and ecological consequences of small population processes, rarity and habitat fragmentation
Genetic and ecological consequences of habitat fragmentation and population viability in key species in the Dongolocking area of the Wheatbelt and the Swan Coastal Plain

This project will build on studies already underway in this area that aim to understand and quantify how genetic and demographic processes interact to influence the viability and long-term conservation value of native plant populations in remnant vegetation, and relate this to easily measured landscape and population parameters. This information can then be used to identify and prioritize high viability remnants for in-situ conservation and assess the value of small remnants in maintaining connectivity in the landscape by facilitating pollen movement and thus gene flow. The project also aims to test conservation genetics theory regarding the genetic deterioration of small fragmented populations but focuses on common species rather than rare species. This is important since it is the more abundant species that are the critical components of landscapes with regard to maintenance of broader ecosystem function such as hydrology and nutrient cycling, as well as provision of habitat for other native organisms. This project will involve the use of molecular genetic and field base ecological and demographic techniques.

Further Information: Dr David Coates, Ph 9219 9048

Dr Margaret Byrne, Ph 9219 9078 Dr Colin Yates, Ph 9219 9079

How does population size and isolation affect pollinator visitation, flowering, pollination, seed production and seedling fitness in the rare Acacia woodmaniorum

The recently discovered Acacia woodmaniorum is endemic to the Banded Ironstone Formation (BIF) ranges of Western Australia. The rare species is known from an area of only 40km2 and may be placed under threat from future mining operations. The project will investigate various aspects of pollination biology, including the determination of key pollinators and what affect population size and isolation has on flowering, pollination, seed production and seedling fitness. Information on these aspects of pollination biology will further inform us about the patterns of pollen dispersal, that ultimately influence patterns of genetic variation in this species. The research is important for the ongoing management of natural populations that ensures any impacts from mining activities are minimised. This project will involve field based ecological and demographic techniques as well as glasshouse based work and will tie in with a larger study on fine scale genetic structure and patterns of gene flow in A. woodmaniourm.

Further Information: Dr David Coates, Ph 9219 9048

Dr Melissa Millar, Ph 9219 9083

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