School of plant biology research Project ideas for Prospective 4th



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3a) Characterise novel mutants: Several novel mutants have been cloned. Project areas include functional characterisation through the generation of knockout and overexpression lines, screening against diverse pathogens/pests and/or abiotic stresses (e.g heat, high light, salinity), the identification of interacting partners, and characterisation of transcriptomes under specific treatments. These projects will incorporate molecular, genomic and bioinformatic approaches.

  1. Human health benefits from lupin seed proteins Winthrop Professor Karam Singh

http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Divisions/Plant-Industry/KaramSingh.aspx

Dr Rhonda Foley

http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Divisions/Plant-Industry/RhondaFoley.aspx

Assistant Professor Lars Kamphuis

http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Divisions/Plant-Industry/LarsKamphuis.aspx
The group is part of the Centre for Food and Genomic Medicine which links medical, food and plant researchers to tackle problems related to obesity and diabetes. The focus of the groups CFGM effort is on seed storage proteins of narrow leaf lupin (NLL) which are likely to be the constituents of the grain responsible for human health benefits relating to reduced risk of heart disease and appetite suppression.
4a) Lupin Seed Transcriptomics: Project areas include analysing gene expression during lupin seed development to identify key transcription factors controlling seed storage protein gene expression or using transcriptomics and phylogenetic studies comparing seed storage proteins between lupin species/cultivars and correlation of the different seed compositions and nutritional qualities.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR CHRISTIAN NANSEN

Animal Biology Building, Room 1.35 in the North Wing; Ph 6488 8672 Email: christian.nansen@uwa.edu.au
As recently employed at UWA (January 2012), I am in the process of developing an applied research program around arthropod (insects and mites) management and ecology. I am teaching AGRI4406 Integrated Pest Management, and I have a keen interest in introducing students to research methods and professional contacts that can make student more competitive on the job market.
Behavioural responses by insects to surface treatments

Using Ethovision XT (www.noldus.com), we are interested in quantifying behavioural responses of different insects and mites to different agro-chemicals applied to crops. Some of these agro-chemicals are pesticides but only work (kill target pests) based on contact. So it would be a “problem” if these contact pesticides are repellent to the target pest. By offering individual insects a choice and characterize and quantify how much time they spent on different surface treatments, we can obtain valuable insight into the performance of these agrochemicals. This information is very valuable to both industry partners and farmers. This project has two components:

  • Acquire quantitative behavioural data based on Ethovision XT.

  • Conduct greenhouse experiments with insect pests on growing plants with/without experimental agrochemical treatments.

This project will provide the student with hands-on experience with: 1) Ethovision XT, 2) rearing of insects, and 3) plant-insect studies.
Quantifying pesticide spray deposition in fields

It is well established that commercial pesticide applications in paddocks rarely lead to more than 5-10% spray coverage and even less in the bottom of dense crop canopies. Thus, target pests are essentially presented with a choice of which about 90-95% of a leaf is without pesticide. Low spray coverage is believed to contribute significantly to the risk of target pest populations developing resistance to pesticides. In this project, we will develop a decision support tool farmers so that they can increase the likelihood of high spray coverage based on weather conditions. An example of such a develop a decision support is available at http://pilcc.tamu.edu/. This project is field based and will require travelling to farming regions and collect spray coverage data and weather data. We will quantify the spray coverage and use regression models to explain the spray coverage based on weather variables, spray characteristics, and canopy height. This project will provide the student with hands-on experience with: 1) field research in farmers paddocks,

2) website presentation of research data, 3) dissemination of research data to growers.
Spatial and temporal association of mite communities in WA cropping systems

Several soil mite species occur in pastures and canola fields and they are responsible for economic losses. This project is field based and will require travelling to farming regions in the southern WA. The overall objectives are to characterize spatial patterns in mite populations and to develop research-based sampling plans to be used by growers and crop consultants. Through field sampling and introduction into spatial statistics, the student will develop significant skill sets that are widely useful in both environmental and production habitats. This project is expected to produce a scientific publication and will link closely with current interest by grower groups, crop advisers, and GRDC (www.grdc.com.au) in pesticide resistance management in mite populations.

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