The Roessner research group is interested in understanding how Australian crops, such as cereals and legumes, adapt and tolerate challenging environmental conditions including water and nutrient deficiencies, salinity, heat or cold. We apply systems biology approaches such as genomics, transcriptomics, lipidomics and metabolomics to compare the biochemical responses of crop plants with contrasting tolerance levels to identify novel adaptation and tolerance mechanisms.

Life is dependent on plants: as the only organisms able to make their own food, these primary producers are vital to the world's ecosystems. From food, medicines, clothing and the air we breathe, we could not exist without them. Indeed, all of the research that occurs within the School of BioSciences is built upon the foundation of plant functions. Research groups in Plant Biology study a broad range of topics including:

  • Plant diversity, classification, biogeography and conservation
  • Plant growth and development
  • Plant cell wall biosynthesis and cell-cell communication
  • Plant nutrition and genetic engineering of crops to improve human nutrition (biofortification)
  • Plant breeding systems and self incompatibility
  • Plant defence against herbivory; plant secondary metabolites including cyanogenic compounds and the oils of eucalypts
  • Plant interactions with fungal pathogens
  • Evolution of plant, algal and protozoan cells, e.g., evolution of endosymbionts, the malaria parasite with its remnant chloroplast, and bio-mineralisation and bioadhesion of algal cell walls.

Students working in the plant biology field are eligible for support in the form of the generous scholarships and awards from the Botany Foundation.

The fungi are a large group of over a million estimated microscopic and macroscopic species. They play fundamental roles in ecology, industry, and plant and animal diseases. The mycology and plant pathology focuses in the School are on both crop and human diseases, as well as investigation of fungal diversity. We apply molecular and field-based approaches to identify genes essential for disease, molecular mechanisms involved in virulence, genes and mechanisms involved in fungicide resistance and management strategies to minimise the deleterious impact of fungal diseases.Microbes are both vital and problematic. Without them our world couldn't exist, but some cause us monumental grief. Understanding microbes helps us manage our environment, stay healthy and look after our crops, livestock and food supplies. Genetic tools have given us powerful means to understand these invisible organisms that impact our lives in myriad ways.The groups based within Melbourne Integrate Genomics all apply various computational and experimental approaches to understand how genes shape living organisms, at large scale. Research includes the development of robust gene regulatory models with applications in synthetic biology, studies of human evolution at both the genetic and the experimental level, and tackling computational and statistical problems in population genetics, including helping to understand the complex HLA and KIR gene systems and the genomic basis of complex human traits.The living cell possesses extraordinary capabilities that allow it to sense and respond to its environment, metabolise nutrients required for growth and division and undergo changes in cell shape and function. All of these processes are under the control of the hereditary instructions or genes it expresses, from among the thousands in its genome.The Conservation and Climate Change Group applies ecological and evolutionary principles to the field of wildlife, conservation and applied biology across a wide range of land animals (including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, a wide range of invertebrates, and some plant groups). Particular interests include the management of native and invasive species; habitat use and ecology of mammals and reptiles; first-principles modelling of individual, population, and evolutionary dynamics; application of genomic techniques to biodiversity management; and terrestrial animals as bioindicators of environmental disturbance.The Evolution and Behaviour Group examines the behaviour and evolution of land animals at several levels, from genes to populations. Research on behaviour includes: visual signalling in birds, reptiles and insects; acoustic signalling in birds and amphibians; and chemical signalling in insects. Research in evolutionary biology investigates the evolutionary process that produced the diversity of life we see today. This includes the study of macro-evolutionary patterns of phenotypic diversity, phylogeny and taxonomy; biogeography and patterns of speciation; the origin, structure and maintenance of hybrid zones; sexual selection, including female choice and sperm competition; the evolution of co-operation in birds and invertebrates; and inter-specific relationships.

Marine biologists in the School of BioSciences work on a diversity of topics across marine organisms, their conservation and management. We conduct our research in temperate and tropical marine environments, from estuaries to the deep sea.

Together we investigate the:

  • Behaviour, ecology, evolution and biodiversity of marine organisms;
  • Effects of human disturbance on habitats, species and communities;
  • Technologies to improve the productivity of aquaculture and its environmental performance;
  • Adaptation of aquaculture and fishery management for climate change;
  • Ecological aspects of marine protected areas and fisheries management.
The Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group work across a wide spectrum of organisms and environments. Our research focus includes; environmental decision making, ecosystem management, conservation biology, and community and population ecology. The group also forms part of larger research centres: The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and theThreatened Species Recovery (TSR) hub of the National Environmental Science Program (NESP).The Population and Quantitative Genetics Group investigate the causes and consequences of genetic variation in natural populations. A broad range of statistical techniques such as Genome-Wide Association and Genomic Selection methods are used to explore the pattern and effect of molecular variation at the whole genome level. Biological models of interest include humans, plants and insects with an emphasis on biological questions related to human health and agriculture.The Reproduction and Development Groups study the very beginnings of life and factors that influence the growth and health of the embryo, foetus and offspring. Basic and biomedical research of mammalian systems focuses on the genetics and molecular control of early embryo development, sexual differentiation, environmental disruptors of development, stem cell biology, comparative genomics and reproductive physiology. Reproduction is the science of the transmission of life!Research groups within the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) domain use genetic, biochemical, molecular and cellular approaches to investigate and manipulate fundamental biological processes across species that span the tree of life. Researchers study a broad range of species from viruses and bacteria to plants and animals. We share research strengths in plant biology, genetics and reproduction. We are united though the use of molecular approaches but have varied applications and model species which create a rich and interdisciplinary environment with a broad diversity of course and research offerings to students.Research groups in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Domain address both fundamental and applied questions spanning the breadth of the two disciplines. Our research includes quantitative risk assessment, ecological and species distribution modelling, vegetation mapping, integrative pest and disease management, conservation biology, marine and fisheries management, and behavioural ecology. We ask questions at different levels of organization from individuals through to assemblages and study a broad array of organisms that span aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.The supervisors below have projects available for 2020 midyear intake MSc students. Click on the links below and look for projects that begin with Midyear.


Alex Andrianopoulos

Microbial and developmental genetics

David Balding

Statistical genomics

Phil Batterham

Neurogenetics, behaviour and systems biology in insects

Simon Baxter

Applied pest control; Pest biology

Joanne Birch

Plant Evolution

Berin Boughton

Spatial metabolomics and proteomics

Anthony Boxshall

Marine ecology, coastal climate adaptation and environmental sciences

Natalie Briscoe

Ecology and Global Change Biology

Melissa Carew

Freshwater biological monitoring

Rob Day

Marine ecology, aquaculture, fisheries, climate change effects on marine animals

Tim Dempster

Marine ecology and aquaculture

Andrew Drinnan

Plant development, morphology, anatomy, architecture and evolution

Michael Duffy

Malaria pathogenesis and nuclear biology

David Duncan

integrity of native ecosystems in human dominated landscapes

Berit Ebert

Metabolomics and proteomics

Mark Elgar

Evolutionary ecology

Mary Familari

Developmental biology

Jane Fenelon

Reproductive and developmental biology

Alex Fournier-Level

Adaptive evolution

Stephen Frankenberg

Mammalian early development and stem cells

Irene Gallego Romero

Human evolution, genomics and stem cells

David Gardner

Reproductive biology

John Golz

Developmental regulation and Translational research

Jason Goodger

Plant natural products

Mark Green

Reproductive biology

Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita

Quantitative ecology

Alexandra Harvey

Embryonic stem cells

Mike Haydon

Plant cell signalling

Joshua Heazlewood

Plant biochemistry

Ary Hoffmann

Pest and environmental adaptation

Luke Holman

Evolutionary ecology

Alexander Idnurm

Fungal biology

Greg Jenkins

Marine ecology

Alex Johnson

Plant and food biotechnology

Therésa Jones

Behavioural ecology

Patricia Jusuf

Neural development and regeneration

Michael Kearney

Ecology and evolution

Mick Keough

Marine ecology

Jose Lahoz-Monfort

Ecological modelling

Edwin Lampugnani

Plant evolution and development

Stephen Leslie

Statistical and population genetics

Michael McCarthy


Geoffrey McFadden

Malaria and endosymbiosis

Kathryn McNamara

Evolutionary ecology

Iliana Medina Guzman

Evolutionary ecology

Rebecca Morris

Marine ecology and coastal climate adaptation

John Morrongiello

Marine and freshwater ecology

Raoul Mulder

Behavioural ecology

Michael Murray

Developmental genetics of Drosophila

Ed Newbigin

Pollen biology

Allyson O'Brien

Marine pollution, ecology, and environmental management

Madeleine Oppen

Marine ecology and evolution

Andrew Pask

Comparative genomics of development and disease

Trent Perry

Insecticide biology, neurogenetics, parasitic biology of the blowfly

Marilyn Renfree

Reproductive and developmental biology

Charles Robin

Insect population genetics and molecular evolution

Nick Robinson

Aquaculture breeding and genetics

Ute Roessner

Abiotic stress adaptation and tolerance

Karen Rowe

Ecology and conservation using museum collections and acoustics

Darren Southwell

Adaptive management and optimal monitoring of threatened species

Devi Stuart-Fox

Evolutionary ecology

Michael Stumpf

Theoretical systems biology

Steve Swearer

Marine ecology, evolution, and environmental

Gerard Tarulli

Development of reproductive tissues

Paul Umina

Insect ecology and management

Allison Van de Meene

Plant cell biology using high-end microscopy techniques

Angela Van de Wouw

Plant-pathogen interactions

Heroen Verbruggen

Marine genomics and microbiology

Peter Vesk

Vegetation ecology and management / CEED

Robert Walker

Plant, soil and microbe interactions

Fletcher Warren-Myers

Marine ecology and aquaculture

Andrew Weeks

Conservation biology

Matt West

Applied ecology

Bonnie Wintle

Conservation ecology / CEED

Jian Yen

Linking theory and data in ecology

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