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Research themes

Centre for Crop Health Winter Theme
  Centre for Crop Health Summer Theme
  Centre for Crop Health Horticulture Theme

Winter Crops Pathology


Summer Crops Pathology


Horticultural Pathology

Focussed on new varieties of tolerance and/or resistance, the winter crops pathology team focus on the genetics of fungal and bacterial pathogens of crops including wheat, barley, canola and chickpea.   The Centre's summer crop pathology team focus on crop improvement for disease resistance and epidemiology in cereals and summer crops such as rice, sorghum, mungbeans, sugar and other tropical crops.  

Research into horticultural crops such as sweetpotato, brassica species, macadamias and coconuts, is focussed on disease modelling, biological control of insects and diseases and rapid molecular diagnostics.



 Centre for Crop Health Disciplines  

Research disciplines

Crop nematology

  • Sources of tolerance and resistance against root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus sp.) identified in a range of hosts
  • These sources are being crossed into elite wheats and incorporated into breeding programs
  • New sources of resistance in wild relatives of wheat and chickpeas are being sought in materials not previously screened
  • Fluctuations in nematode populations in response to different crop rotation strategies are being characterised
  • Models that predict nematode populations and effects on crop yield in response to different farming systems are being developed in collaboration with CSIRO

Crop physiology

  • The establishment of high CO2 plant growth facilities at USQ 
  • The demonstration of a significant effect of elevated COon cereal grain quality included altered gluten profile and a decreased grain micronutrient content
  • An ongoing examination of water relations and carbon metabolism in plants infected with crown rot
  • A sabbatical research fellow - Associate Professor Hirotsu Naoki, Toyo University Japan
  • Two Endeavour Research Fellows - Professeor Saman Abeysinghe, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka and Dr Achini De Silva, Sabaragamuwa University, Sri Lanka

Molecular genetics/bioinformatics

  • Genetic markers for quantitative resistance loci to crown rot in wheat have been established
  • Improved crown rot resistance in elite backgrounds has been provided to Australian wheat breeding companies
  • Improved resistance to crown rot is being successfully transferred from bread wheats to highly susceptible durum wheats
  • The diversity of Australian populations of several barley foliar pathogens has been characterised
  • Hybridisation between the two fungal species causing net blotch of barley has been demonstrated in the field
  • Improved frost resistance has been produced in transgenic wheats 

Fungal diseases of winter cereals

  • Investigations are on-going into the genetics, physiology and biology of crown rot in cereals caused by Fusarium pseudograminearum
  • Our understanding of the growth F.pseudograminearum in its hosts has been greatly enhanced using DNA-based techniques and fluorescence microscopy
  • Improved techniques for rapid estimation of crown rot disease in the field are being developed
  • We are participating in national investigation of yellow (tan) spot disease (Pyrenophora triticirepentis) in wheat that has identified nine novel resistance loci and developed lines with multiple resistance genes for use in breeding programs
  • The Centre plays a major role in National Variety Trials screening for crown rot, yellow spot, common root rot and root lesion nematodes

Pathology of summer crops

  • Centre researchers are engaged in an on-going study of integrated disease management in sorghum, sunflower, soybean, mung bean and peanuts
  • We have demonstrated that Fusarium thapsinum (stalk rot in sorghum) colonises crop residues of sunflower, maize, millets and mung bean
  • Twenty-one new species of Diaporthe (stem canker on sunflowers and soybeans) have been identified along with a number of alternate crop and weed hosts
  • The survival of both Fusarium and Diaporthe species from season to season on living plants (green bridges) and/or dead residues (brown bridges) of alternate hosts has been shown
  • In season disease surveillance surveys and disease diagnostic support are provided to growers and agronomists