School of plant biology research Project ideas for Prospective 4th

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Aphid vector biology and the roles of different aphid species as vectors of cucurbit viruses. We know surprisingly little about the biology of aphid vectors and the roles of different aphids as vectors of cucurbit viruses that currently threaten the wellbeing of continuation of the states cucurbit industry.

How do native plants respond to invasion by introduced viruses spreading from introduced crops and how do introduced crop plants respond to invasion by indigenous viruses spreading from native plants. We know very little about the threats posed to native plants from introduced viruses and to crop plants from indigenous viruses. Viruses evolve and adapt to new hosts very rapidly and, because agriculture is so recent here, we are ideally placed in Western Australia to study this process.


Room 1.24 Botany Building Link and UWA Oceans Institute; Ph 6488 3998; Email
Gary Kendrick’s research interests are in the study of the interrelationship between abiotic and biotic processes in the marine environment and their impact on the patterns of distribution and abundance of communities and populations of organisms. This general research interest has recently led me to concentrate on scaling of marine ecological processes. He is presently studying the links between vegetative growth and recruitment processes within seagrass populations and patterning of seagrass meadows across submarine landscapes. His other major interest is in the ecology of marine seaweeds and biological (fish and invertebrate grazing, space pre-emption by sessile filter feeding invertebrates) and physical (influence of waves and currents) processes influencing them. Project topics for 2014-2015 include

  1. Reproductive and recruitment ecology of seagrasses

  2. Ecology of benthos across the tropical- temperate transition zone from Rottnest to Houtmans Abrolhos

  3. Restoration ecology of tropical and temperate seagrasses (with John Statton)

  4. Population genetics of the kelp Ecklonia radiata (with Thomas Wernberg)

  5. Population genetics and mating systems of seagrasses (with Liz Sinclair) See

Project Ideas

  1. Matching bed stress and benthic habitats for specific regions (Geographe Bay, Rottnest etc) Supervisors: Chari Pattiaratchi, Gary Kendrick, Kimberly Van Niel, Euan Harvey

  2. Seagrass genetics (Posidonia)

Supervisors Elizabeth Sinclair, Siegy Krauss, Gary Kendrick; Contact ( Seagrasses belong to a large group of marine flowering plants, adapted for an entirely submerged life. They produce flowers and seeds, with pollen and seed dispersal occurring within the water column. Seagrass meadows also exhibit extensive vegetative (or clonal) reproduction. The meadows are extremely productive ecosystems and play a vital role in providing fish nurseries and stabilising seabeds and coastal shorelines.

Extensive decline in seagrass meadows has been documented around Australia, and globally, with experimental restoration efforts requiring donor plant material. Eight (of the nine) Posidonia species occur within waters of the south-west region of Western Australia. Ecological, morphological, and molecular tools are being used to addresses a range of issues relating to population structure, adaptation, and mating systems to contribute to the long-term success of restoration efforts. Microsatellite DNA markers are specifically being used to answer questions relating to clonal diversity, gene flow among meadows and the role ocean currents play in pollen and seed dispersal, and hybridisation. Several options for projects are available, and can be developed around student skills and interests.

  1. Connectivity, reproduction and recruitment of seagrasses in Shark Bay –

Supervisors Gary Kendrick and John Statton

Connectivity, reproduction and recruitment of seagrasses in Shark Bay Shark Bay World Heritage Region presents a unique climatic interface between temperate and tropical realms. The high species diversity of seagrass in this region coupled with representative species from each climatic realm delivers a rare opportunity to compare distinct reproductive and recruitment strategies employed by each species and how these strategies contribute to the persistence and resilience of seagrass populations in this region and elsewhere. This research will focus on understanding how underlying abiotic processes influence seagrass reproductive ecology in the face of changing climatic conditions

  1. Fish grazing pressure on tropical seagrasses in Shark Bay –

Supervisors: Gary Kendrick, Mat Vanderklift, Gavin Coumbes

This is an opportunity to build your research skills within a supportive and multi-disciplinary research team in a World Heritage Area. This project can answer questions relevant to the international scientific community.
For more information, visit and refer to the Marine Honours project booklet.


Senior Research Scientist (Conservation Genetics), Kings Park and Botanic Garden; Ph 94803673; Email:

I head up the conservation genetics laboratory team at Kings Park, where we are applying molecular tools such as AFLP, microsatellites, population genomics and DNA sequencing for largely practical genetic contributions to native plant conservation, ecological restoration, systematics and native plant breeding. We also use these tools for a better understanding of key evolutionary processes within natural plant populations such as mating and dispersal. In collaboration with Dr Matt Barrett, Dr Janet Anthony, and Dr Liz Sinclair, we offer honours and 4th year research projects within the following broad topics:
Seed sourcing for ecological restoration. A major issue affecting restoration success. How do we determine the extent of the local genetic provenance? Applying molecular tools such as AFLP or microsatellites for the rapid genetic assessment of population genetic structure is one powerful contribution. Various species from the Swan coastal plain and Darling Scarp (as well as marine seagrass meadows) are available for population genetic assessment in a genetic provenance context. In addition, there are opportunities to develop and assess patterns of variation in non-neutral markers being developed for iconic species such as tuart, to more directly assess adaptive variation. What are the consequences of sourcing seed from non-local populations? Opportunities exist for cross-pollination experiments to assess the negative genetic consequences of wide outcrossing (outbreeding depression). Additionally, glasshouse growth trials and/or reciprocal transplant experiments provide powerful tests for the extent of local adaptation and “home-site advantage”.

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