Agriculture experts

Murdoch University works at the forefront of the new era of environmentally sustainable agriculture. The University has been Western Australia’s leader in adopting a sustainable approach to agriculture and providing solutions using biotechnology and bioinformatics.

Murdoch’s research has a strong track record in both livestock and cropping; and in managing environmental, policy and epidemiological issues associated with agricultural practices.

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Michael Jones

Professor Michael Jones

Plant biotechnology and genetic manipulation

Michael Jones is Professor of Agricultural Biotechnology and Foundation Director of the WA State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre (SABC).

He specialises in plant biotechnology, biosecurity, genetically modified plants and the molecular basis of interactions between plants and plant pathogens. He heads the Plant Biotechnology Research Group with about 15 researchers.

His expertise includes molecular diagnostics and marker-assisted breeding, with current major contributions in plant virology and host-pathogen interactions of plant parasitic nematodes. In recent work his group has used new ‘short read’ nucleic acid sequencing technologies coupled with sequence assembly and analysis to identify 50 plant viruses either new to Australia or to science. In the plant nematology, his group has sequenced the transcriptomes of three plant parasitic nematodes, and used this information to develop GM plants with novel resistance to economically important nematodes.

He has published over 230 research articles, including co-authoring two books. As a member of the Commonwealth Government ‘Australian Biotechnology Advisory Council’ (ABAC, 2003-2008)), he contributed to advising government ministers on national biotechnology policy. He has also participated in many debates on GM crops.
Wayne Reeve

Dr Wayne Reeve

Microbiology, microbial genomics

Dr Wayne Reeve is a senior lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology and teaches in Cell Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry units.

Dr Reeve is an expert in the field of microbiology with research expertise in microbial physiology, biochemistry and genetics. His research is primarily focused on symbiotic and virulence determinants and adaptation processes in microorganisms.

He has completely established the genomes of five microsymbiotic bacteria and has 20 more in a sequencing facility production pipeline.

He currently coordinates the activities of the US funded GEBA-RNB (Genome Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea-Root Nodule Bacteria) project consisting of an international consortium of 32 scientists from 15 different countries involved in sequencing the genomes of 100 geographically distinct root nodule bacteria.

John Howieson

Professor John Howieson

Sustainable agriculture, nitrogen fixation in legumes

Professor John Howieson is an internationally recognised expert in sustainable agriculture, specialising in the nitrogen fixation of legume crops.
His research interests include the selection and development of root nodule bacteria as commercial inoculants for agricultural legumes, and the selection of annual and perennial legumes for sustainable agriculture.

Professor Howieson was the Foundation Director of the Centre for Rhizobium Studies at Murdoch University and he has led the discovery program for several new pasture and forage legumes in Australian agriculture.

Currently he is on the steering committee for the project “N2Africa: Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa”. This US$20 million program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Robert Trengove

Associate Professor Robert Trengove

Separation science and metabolomics

Associate Professor Rob Trengove is the Director for the Murdoch Separation Science and Metabolomics Laboratory and the node leader for the Murdoch Node of Metabolomics Australia.

Professor Trengove has pioneered the development of MS-based ‘omics techniques for more than 20 years, collaborating with Australian and International researchers and industry.

He currently leads a team of more than 15 researchers working on a diverse range of topics including HIV/AIDs, iron disorders, desalination, microalgae lipidomics, fungal and bacterial metabolomics.

Professor Trengove has published more than 50 high-impact journal articles and has ongoing commercial contract research arrangements with major industry players in the petrochemical, clinical and animal health pharmaceutical sector.

Kirsty Bayliss

Dr Kirsty Bayliss

Plant biosecurity and crop disease, development of new plant varieties

Dr Kirsty Bayliss is a plant scientist with over 20 years’ experience in the plant pathology field. Since 2012, she has focussed on the management of postharvest pathogens that cause moulds on fresh fruit, vegetables and grains.

In 2015, Dr Bayliss was the recipient of an Australia-Thailand Young Researcher Exchange Award, where she investigated the use of plasma technology for plant disease control at Chiang Mai University. Dr Bayliss also presented her research in this field at the Feed the Zone forum in Jakarta in 2016.

During 2017, Dr Bayliss was named a LAUNCHFood Innovator for her work on chemical —free control of postharvest diseases. Her aim is to make more food available for more people by reducing food waste.

John Pluske

Professor John Pluske

Pig nutrition and physiology

Professor Pluske conducts research related to the nutrition and digestive physiology of pigs (particularly weanling pigs) but has also worked in a number of other monogastric species including dogs, horses and chickens.

His other research interests encompass alternatives to antimicrobials in piglet diets, the role of nutrition and the environment in modifying immune function and the gastrointestinal microbiota, feedstuff evaluation, and controlling enteric diseases in pigs without antimicrobials.

Professor Pluske is the Director of the Animal Research Institute at Murdoch University that aims to strategically unite, foster and grow animal-based research, postgraduate education and delivery to its stakeholders for the University.

The Institute represents a key collection of researchers in four core activities, namely production animal research, companion animal research, animal biosecurity and health, and wildlife biology and systems.

Professor Nick Costa

Professor Nick Costa

Sustainable grazing, rumen ecology and nutrient management

Professor Nick Costa researches livestock grazing systems and the impact of trace elements, in particular the minerals selenium and copper in sheep and cattle which may be limiting productivity and reproduction among Western Australian livestock.

He specialises in sustainable grazing systems and the fundamentals of livestock nutrition and grazing management.

Professor David Pethick

Professor David Pethick

Biochemistry – from the paddock to the plate

Professor David Pethick is an agricultural scientist specialising in biochemistry and livestock nutrition. He researches carbohydrate and fat metabolism in sheep, cattle and horses and studies the biochemistry of exercise.

Professor Pethick conducts consumer taste panels to discover the qualities needed for repeat purchase of meat products, and will soon study the human health qualities of meat, such as lamb’s Omega3 and iron content which may provide useful marketing tools for the industry in the future.
Richard Bell_agriculture expert

Professor Richard Bell

Soil fertility and land management

Professor Richard Bell is an expert in soil fertility and land management. He specialises in soil management in highly weathered soils, fertility and management constraints associated with acid, salt-affected and degraded soils, fertiliser requirements for field cropping, rehabilitation of degraded land, the physiology and agronomy of food legumes, canola, wheat and rice, and mine rehabilitation.

He is also experienced in third world agricultural development issues, particularly rural development, the management and administration of research projects and training researchers in plant nutrition, soil science and land management.

To reach these experts for media enquiries, contact:

Luke McManus
Media & Communications Advisor
Phone: 08 9360 2491
Mobile: 0400 297 221
l.mcmanus@murdoch.edu.au

For all other enquiries, please ring reception on 08 9360 6000.