Australian agriculture builds on world expertise

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One of the world’s leading institutes for agricultural research has just added another international expert to its stable of scientists working to breed more resilient crops and increase Australia’s primary industry competitiveness.

Professor Jacqueline Batley, a leader in the study of genes that protect plants from disease, has been appointed to UWA’s School of Plant Biology where she is working to improve the understanding of disease-resistance mechanisms in Brassicas such as canola (oilseed rape) – an important agricultural crop.

Professor Batley said the research opportunities at UWA would benefit industry. 

Harnessing the power of modern genomics, in combination with other disciplines such as plant breeding, will enable the breakthroughs we need to develop new varieties for farmers,” she said. 

“I am looking forward to further developing my multinational collaborations with others in the Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology

and The UWA Institute of Agriculture, as well as with our other state and national research partners.”

Dean of the Faculty of Science, Winthrop Professor Tony O’Donnell, said the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship recipient had joined a strong group of plant scientists at UWA’s Centre for Plant Genetics and Breeding

bringing with her established links with industry including four Australian Research Council (ARC Linkage) projects. 

“Professor Batley’s appointment to UWA provides an exciting opportunity for Australia to lead new approaches to unravelling the mechanisms behind disease resistance in Brassica crops that will eventually lead to breeding more resilient varieties and deliver wider benefits to science and across the grains industry,” Professor O’Donnell said. “It’s international collaborations like these that will help to improve food security.”

Professor Batley’s initial focus will be on Brassica resistance to the devastating fungal disease commonly known as ‘blackleg’, but she also contributes more widely to crop genomics research, including wheat. 

Together with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), Professor Batley recently published three papers in the prestigious journal Science

providing a chromosome-based understanding of the genome sequence of bread wheat. 

The world’s foremost performance indicator, the Academic Ranking of World Universities published by China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University, has ranked The University of Western Australia 26th in the world for Life and Agricultural Sciences.

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