The Plant EcoFizz is group usually consists of four PhD students, a Research Fellow, a Postdoc and two or three honours students. There are usually a few undergraduates doing projects and students and academic visitors from overseas and interstate.
Ros Gleadow leads the Monash Plant Ecophysiology group. Her broad research area is on the interaction between plants and their environment. Her current focus is on the effect of climate change on crops that make cyanide, e.g. sorghum and cassava. For more details and an up to date list of publications go her official Monash site.
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In 2007 Cecilia joined what is now the Plant Ecophysiology Group iinvestigating the molecular control of cyanogenesis in crop species, primarily forage sorghum and led the program to create our acyanogenic EMS mutants. Cecilia has had a varied career. After completing a BSC (Forestry) at the Australian National University (Canberra) she worked in Tasmania for private industry developing elite eucalypt varieties. With an increased interest in research, particularly molecular biology, Cecilia returned to study at the School of Botany at Melbourne University investigating sexual reproduction and fertilisation in plants and worked part-time at Calgene Pacific (later Florigene). At Monash she did a post doc on the phenomenon of desiccation tolerance in the resurrection grass, Sporobolus stapfianus, an area which she still actively researches
Elizabeth Neilson Research Associate
Elizabeth graduated from her Bachelor Science degree at the University of Melbourne in 2005, majoring in botany and zoology. She gained first class Honours in Prof Ian Woodrow’s Plant Physiology Lab, investigating cyanogenesis in Eucalyptus camphora. and continued her work with cyanogenic eucalypts during her PhD in collaboration with Prof Birger Møller’s at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. She is now based in Copenhagen but spends time each year with the EcoFizz Group here at Monash.
Akane Uesugi – Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Akane’s research integrates invasion biology, plant-herbivore interactions, plant-soil microbial interactions, chemical ecology, and evolutionary ecology, which aims to understand how introduced plant populations (goldenrod: Solidago spp.) become invasive through plant adaptation to a novel biotic environment.
Mohammad Nouman Sohail
Molecular regulation of cyanogenesis in sorghum (completed)
Nouman completed his bachelor degree in Agriculture and eventually did his post graduate research focusing on plant breeding and genetics. Below is Muhammad’s take on his career thus far:
“I had a love-hate relationship with plants but with time it is becoming more of a loving kind. I think communication has played a very important role in it because the better I understand what they are saying more I am starting to like them. I did my bachelor in Agriculture and found plant genetics to be very interesting, hence decided to do my specialization in “Plant Breeding and Genetics”. Afterwards during my MPhil studies I did my research on development of insect resistant plants (Tobacco and Sugarcane) by transfering Bt genes (derived from Bacillus thuringiensis) into their genome, using biolistic and Agrobacterium. This research experience guided my interests towards plant’s own defense mechanism and I decided to explore this topic during my PhD research. The focus of my PhD is to understand the molecular regulations of dhurrin especially focusing the effect of various hormones on it. I am also working on transgenic approach to characterise some of the interesting mutant genotypes that our lab has developed in the past. I hope at the end of my PhD I would be able to talk sorghum into being less cyanogenic.”
Max Cowan -PhD student
Cyanogenesis in wild sorghum
Max is currently a PhD student at Monash University exploring the genetic diversity in the Australian wild relatives of cereal crop Sorghum bicolor for use in crop improvement. Max aims to determine the cyanogenic status of the wild species and model their ecogeographic niches to identify possible genotypes that could be used to transfer improved stress tolerance traits to S. bicolor, particularly against drought. Max is also interested in the in- and ex situ conservation of these plants.
Viviana Rosati PhD student
Viviana Rosati is currently undertaking a PhD at Monash University, where she is researching the molecular regulation of cyanide production in the cereal crop sorghum under the supervision of Prof Ros Gleadow and Dr. Cecilia Blomstedt. Viviana completed a Bachelor of Science (Bsc)/Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc) double degree at Monash University in 2012 majoring in the fields of Genetics and Molecular Biology, Zoology, and Biomedical Sciences. She went on to complete an Honours year in 2013 where she examined the production of cyanogenic glycosides and resource allocation in sorghum. Viviana’s interests include the environmental and molecular regulation of cyanogenesis in sorghum, epigenetic regulation of secondary metabolism in plants, and food security.
Plant Nutrition Trust Award 2016
Australian Society of Plant Scientists
Australian Postgraduate Award 2015-2018
Department of Education and Training
Dean’s List Fellow 2012
Faculty of Science, Monash University
– Awarded to students in the Faculty of Science whose results are in the top 1%.
Monash University Scholarship for Excellence and Equity 2009-2012
Benjamin O’Leary – PhD student
Benjamin is a PhD student at Monash University with a particular interest in the ecology of species range expansion and invasion. This type of work can help to reflect the evolutionary history of a species, whilst also enabling us to project and plan for the future. Benjamin’s study is focused on Pittosporum undulatum, a tree native to coastal South Eastern Australia. The range of this species has spread to produce dense weedy populations after European settlement, often near peri-urban environments across Australia and internationally. These populations are characteristically depauperate in species richness.
The focus of Benjamin’s study is to model the habitat suitability of Pittosporum undulatum and use the model to highlight areas most vulnerable to future spread. As a dioecious species with seperate male and female plants, Benjamin intends to investigate the proportion of males and females with and between native and invasive populations. Benjamin’s third objective is to understand the impact of Pittosporum undulatum on local communities.
Research assistant in the Gleadow Lab, Monash University.
Alicia completed her Bachelor of Science and Arts double degree with majors in Genetics and Linguistics in 2013 from Monash University, followed by Honours under the supervision of Dr. Cecilia Blomstedt and Professor Ros Gleadow. This project investigated the molecular regulation of a key gene in the biosynthetic pathway of dhurrin, a cyanogenic glucoside, in Sorghum bicolor.
Alicia is currently working as a Research Assistant in the Gleadow Lab at Monash continuing with work on Sorghum, as well as assisting with other projects on Goldenrod and Cassava, and is also responsible for everyday tasks in the laboratory.
Heidi Dalton – Regulation of alkaloid metabolism in tobacco
Heidi graduated from her BSc (hons) at Monash University at the beginning of 2009, majoring in Genetics and Molecular Biology. Heidi then achieved First Class Honours (H1) in Genetics in the laboratory of Prof. John Hamill, investigating pyridine alkaloid metabolism in Nicotiana tabacum and Nicotiana glauca. Heidi has interests in the genetic, biochemical and environmental controls influencing nitrogen-based metabolism and activation and regulation of plant defence pathways that synthesise specialised toxins, such as pyridine alkaloids. Heidi is currently undertaking a PhD in Molecular Genetics in the EcoFizz group in Biological Sciences at Monash University in collaboration with Prof. Ian Baldwin’s group at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. Her work focuses on the circadian control of secondary metabolites, as well as the regulation, ‘cost’ and detoxification of nicotine in Nicotiana species. Heidi has broad research experience, including in vitro and hydroponic experimental systems; plant physiology; gene regulation (qPCR); and the primary and secondary metabolite chemistry in tobacco species.
Cara Griffiths – Desiccation tolerance
Cara completed her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biotechnology in 2007 from Victoria University (VU) then gained first class Honours with Dr. Joshua Johnson, Dr. Alison Duncan and Dr. Bronwen Scott at VU investigating chemoendosymbiotic relationships in bivalve molluscs which enables them to survive in extreme environments. Cara then moved to Monash University to undertake a PhD degree under the supervision of Dr. Alan Neale, Dr. Cecilia Blomstedt and Prof. John Hamill. Her PhD research focusses on the resurrection grass Sporobolus stapfianus, which is a plant with a remarkable ability to desiccate and go into a state of suspended animation during drought, and then comes back to life after a rainfall event. Genes thought to be imperative to this process have been isolated, and Cara is elucidating the function of some of these genes by studying the effects of these genes in Arabidopsis, assaying enzymatic function, gene expression analysis, and identifying protein-protein interactions.
Sam Fromhold: Diurnal regulation of secondary metabolites in sorghum
Aaron Edwards: Modelling growth-defence trade-offs cyanogenetic in sorghum
Sharmin Islam: Genetic regulation of drought. Genetics
At Monash University undergraduate students can undertake a 9month research year to gain an Honours degree. Lab head, Ros Gleadow, won the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Honours Supervision in 2014. Here are some of the students who completed Honours in the Gleadow lab
2018: Blake Chan, David Potsma
2017: Georgia Lloyd, Rose Baulch
2015: Laura Steel
2014: Amelia Pegg , Alicia Quinn, Max Cowan
2013: Vivana Rosati, Nikolai MacNee
2011: Alicia Brown
2010: Rebeccca Vandegeer, Melissa Baine, Siobhan Isherwood
2009: Kiara O’Gorman
2008: Nicholas Cody
2007: Natalie O’Donnell
Prof Birger Lindberg Møller (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Dr Bruce Webber (CSIRO, Western Australia)
Dr Tim Cavagnaro (The University of Adelaide)
Dr Rebecca Miller (The University of Melbourne)
Steve Crimp (CSIRO, Canberra)
Prof John Hamill (Deakin University)
Dr Alan Neale
Dr Peter Stuart
Dr Phil Heraud (Monash Imaging, Monash University)
Prof Dr Julie Cliff (University Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique)
Prof Ian Woodrow (The University of Melbourne)
Prof Bill Foley (ANU)
Prof Doyle McKey (Montpellier)
Dr Howard Bradbury (Australian National University)
Dr Alan Neale
Kiara O’Gorman Msc
Suzy Ryan PhD
Natalie O’Donnell PhD
Kath Deboer PhD
Sharmin Islam PhD
Esther Huai-Yian Ling PhD
Giorgio De Guzman PhD