News Archive

Can plants be genetically programmed to save themselves?
Jun 19th, 2024
Adil Khan has not seen The Martian. But his work is helping to ensure that when human beings do reach Mars, they will have a better time of it than Matt Damon’s Mark Watney.

Dr Khan is a research associate in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plants for Space and the Centre for Plant Energy Biology in UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences. He is also a member of the International Space Centre's Plants for Space...

Funding gives plants in space a growth boost
Apr 8th, 2024
The University of Western Australia’s Plants for Space team has been boosted by funding to support space exploration through autonomous agriculture.

UWA is one of three Australian universities to receive part of almost $3 million (£1.5M) in funding from the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund through the lead agent on the project, Vertical Future.

Professor Harvey...

Scholarships supercharge UWA research projects
Mar 22nd, 2023
Two PhD students from The University of Western Australia with stellar aspirations have been awarded Westpac Future Leaders Scholarships to complete research projects.

"I have always wanted to bring the future of computing forward to help solve our grandest challenges."

The prestigious scholarships provide up to $120,000 of financial assistance and leadership development for students at...

UWA launches second phase of research to reinvent the wheat pre-breeding model
Mar 2nd, 2023
“This research project is really about taking research that has been developed in the lab, tested in research plots and now deploying it into a breeding program.” Dr Nicolas Taylor

The second and final stage of an ambitious project to accelerate uptake of physiological traits in commercial breeding programs and advance the yield of Australian wheat launched this week at The University of Western Australia.


Research on the Record: meet Bhagya Dissanayake
Feb 2nd, 2023
Research scientist Dr Bhagya Dissanayake’s work as a proteomics specialist sees her applying the expertise she gained as a PhD student at The University of Western Australia to the early detection of plant and human diseases by precisely identifying protein biomarkers associated with the conditions.

Based at Proteomics International at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, her studies seek to help improve salinity and drought tolerance in crops such as wheat and chickpea.

During her time at UWA’s School of Molecular...

Plants in space research gets funding boost
Nov 4th, 2022
The University of Western Australia is one of five Australian universities to receive a $90 million funding boost to create food and medicines for space explorers.

The Australian Government is providing $35 million for the new Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plants for Space, led by the University of Adelaide, with additional funding and in-kind support from 38 partner organisations...

Prestigious award brings dream of silencing crop frost damage closer
Mar 3rd, 2022
A molecular microbiologist at The University of Western Australia’s School of Biological Sciences has won a prestigious 2022 Science and Innovation Award that will help fund development of a spray to protect crops from frost damage.

Jaco Zandberg from UWA’s Crop Genomics Group was recently part of a team that identified an ‘ice-nucleating’ bacteria linked to severe frost damage in grain crops, a problem that costs Australian farmers an estimated $400 million each year.


Tall Poppy Award for Dr Joanna Melonek
Sep 9th, 2021
PEB scientist Dr Joanna Melonek has been named a 2021 West Australian Tall Poppy.

The Young Tall Poppy Awards are presented annually by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) as a recognition of individuals who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science and who demonstrate great...

‘Animal-stress’ signal improves plant drought resilience
Mar 29th, 2021
A team of Australian and German researchers has discovered a novel pathway that plants can use to save water and improve their drought tolerance.

The research published in Nature Communications shows that the molecule GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), most commonly associated with relaxation in animals, can control the size of...

Researchers find new way to extend the working life of enzymes
Mar 22nd, 2021
Like the parts of a car that make it go, enzymes in living cells can eventually wear out or break over time, and researchers at The University of Western Australia have now discovered what determines an enzyme’s working life and what needs to be done to keep it working longer.

The findings, published today in PNAS, could be used to genetically engineer many types of biosystems in the future, with a range of applications for agriculture through to medicine.


Breakthrough research finds keys to a major boost for hybrid wheat breeding
Feb 14th, 2021
A new study, led by researchers from The University of Western Australia and scientists and expert plant breeders from Limagrain is set to revolutionise the future of wheat production, with three genes identified that will enable the breeding of hybrid wheat crops that promise higher yields and better disease and environmental tolerance.

Published in Nature Communications, the study identified genes that will enable large-scale hybrid wheat breeding – Rf1, Rf3 and orf279.

Hybrid crops are...

UWA launches International Space Centre
Jan 27th, 2021
A new International Space Centre at The University of Western Australia will combine leading space science, research and teaching capabilities, advance our ability to operate from space and enable the development of innovative technology to enhance and sustain life on Earth and beyond.

A multi-disciplinary UWA team that includes more than 12 research nodes, 150 researchers and 20 PhD students will collaborate across areas ranging from optical communications, astrophysics, health, agriculture, engineering, information technology, and social...

Study provides insight into how the brain may have evolved
Jan 24th, 2021
Researchers from The University of Western Australia have uncovered evidence of an important genetic step in the evolution of the brain. The finding highlights how genetic events that took place in our fish-like ancestors play crucial roles in human brain biology today.

In a new study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers found that non-CG DNA methylation, an epigenetic control system found abundantly in human...

IWYP Science Briefs: Waste Not, Want Not – Higher Yields with More Energy Efficient Wheat
Dec 16th, 2020
Given the importance of photosynthetic energy capture to plant growth and development, it is surprising to note that as little as 10-15% of daily aquired energy is actually used for growth.

Original IWYP Science Brief published here.

More than 70% of daily captured CO2 is released during night respiration. The energy this represents is...

From lab to table: boosting plants with biochemistry
Dec 15th, 2020
Many plants have had a helping hand from plant biologists like Professor Harvey Millar.

Original story published by the Australian Academy of Science.

When it comes to plants, we have a lot to be thankful for: food, fuel and...

Researchers buzzing over new business to improve bee health
Dec 9th, 2020
A new spin-out business that will help improve the health and management of the State’s bee population has been launched by The University of Western Australia.

UWA Scientific Bee Services, led by Dr Julia Grassl and Ms Tiffane Bates from UWA’s Cooperative Research Centre for Honey Bee Products, will work with the beekeeping industry to offer consulting and outreach services, and provide bees and queens for...

Landmark study to improve global wheat production
Nov 25th, 2020
In a landmark study, an international team of scientists, including researchers from The University of Western Australia, have sequenced and analysed the genomes of 15 wheat varieties that represent breeding programs from around the world.

The research provides the most comprehensive atlas of wheat genome sequences reported to date.

Wheat, one of the world’s most cultivated crops, requires its production to be increased by more than 50 per cent by 2050 in order to meet the...

PEB’S 2020 Highly Cited Researchers
Nov 17th, 2020
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology is proud to announce that five of its Chief Investigators - Professors Matthew Gilliham, Ryan Lister, Harvey Millar, Barry Pogson and Steve Tyerman - have been named as Highly Cited Researchers on the 2020 list from Clarivate Web of Science™.

The annual list identifies researchers who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by...

ARC funding successes for Plant Energy Biology
Nov 16th, 2020
ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology researchers and Centre Affiliates have had funding success in the 2021 Australian Research Council Major Grants round.

PEB Investigators and Affiliates, including Prof. Ryan Lister, Prof. Justin Borevitz, Prof. Rachel Burton, Prof. Ian Small, Prof. James Whelan, Dr Monika Murcha, Prof. Matthew Gilliham, Dr Mark Waters and Dr Michael Considine lead eight successfully funded...

Women in Tech award for founder of the Virtual Plant Cell
Nov 6th, 2020
A Tech [+] Award has been presented to Karina Price, Science Communications Officer for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology for her work as a woman in technology. This includes her leadership of PEB’s educational virtual reality program, Virtual Plant Cell.

Women in Technology Western Australia (WiTWA)'s Tech [+] Awards celebrate and acknowledge incredible women in tech [+] in Western Australia. The 2020 Awards were presented to twenty recipients during a celebration of diversity and inclusion at Optus...