The Team

Research projects | The Team | Publications

Allira Baericke

Allira is in the middle of the Masters of BioSciences program, developing new Leptosphaeria maculans strains with gene editing and crossing to generate enhanced tools for screening for new sources of resistance against blackleg disease.

Nicholas Chong

Nick is undertaking a PhD on molecular biology aspects of Leptosphaeria maculans, especially the impact of repetitive DNA sequences on its biology particularly working to overturn the long dogma that this species has no active transposable elements.

Prof. Barbara Howlett, FAA

Barb was a University of Melbourne undergraduate and PhD student, working with Bruce Knox on pollen wall allergens.  She started working on canola diseases in the 1980s.  Although she retired in 2014, Barb continues to play an active role in the lab, particularly the research projects related to blackleg and other canola diseases.

Assoc. Prof. Alexander Idnurm

Alex did his Honours and PhD research with Barbara Howlett working on Leptosphaeria maculans, with a year in between spent in three labs in the US.  He did post-doctoral studies at Duke University Medical Center (USA) on the human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans and the role of light sensing in other fungi such as Phycomyces blakesleeanus.  Alex was an assistant and then associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (USA).  In 2014 he returned to the University of Melbourne with an ARC Future Fellowship to continue the fungal biology legacy established by Barb.  Other biographical information is provided here.

Justin Rixiang Lim

Justin is doing a Masters of Biotechnology research project creating mutants of genes predicted to be involved in the control of powdery mildews from Amepelomyces quisqualis.

Keertana Kappagantula

Keertana is spending a year in the School of BioSciences as part of a joint PhD program between the University of Melbourne and IISER-Tirupati, where her supervisor is Sreenivas Chavali.  Her PhD project aims to tackle disordered components in the proteins of human pathogenic fungi.

Alec McCallum

Alec is a PhD student exploring the emergence of antifungal resistance in Leptosphaeria maculans and potential ways this can be overcome.  This is taking a number of molecular biology approaches towards answering fundamental questions about how this fungus can overcome fungicide applications.

Tamar Orly

Tamar is an Honours student with Camille Truong at the Royal Botanic Garden, examining fungi with the ability to improve plant growth as related to the Wilson’s Prom National Park.

Dr. Camilla Langlands Perry

Camilla is a research assistant with extensive molecular plant pathology experience gained during studies in France on the wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici.  She is tackling several L. maculans projects while keeping the lab functioning.

Adam Taranto

Adam is doing a part-time PhD while also engaged in teaching across bioinformatic subjects at the University of Melbourne.  His research is exploring and developing bioinformatic tools to better understand the more complex components of fungal genomes.

Ko-Hsuan (Gina) Tsao

Ko-Hsuan is doing a Masters of Biotechnology project examining genes in L. maculans that could be subject to targeting by RNAi pathways.

Dr. Angela Van de Wouw

Angela was a PhD student in the Department of Genetics and investigated insecticide resistance in the model insect Drosophila melanogaster.  She joined the Blackleg Lab in 2005 to investigate the genetic basis of pathogenicity in Australian populations of Leptosphaeria maculans.  Based in the lab’s second hub at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham, Angela’s research involves the characterisation of resistance genes in all Australian cultivars, monitoring blackleg populations for changes in virulence, and developing management strategies for farmers to minimise disease.


And with us in spirit, if not always physically…

Violeta Carrilo Portillo

Violeta is based in SAFES under the supervision of Niloofar Vaghefi, and is exploring the challenge of what appears to be polymicrobial disease inputs that reduced yield in the pyrethrum industry.

Lauren Huth

Lauren is both the Research Facility Coordinator at the Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment and also undertaking a PhD at the University of Southern Queensland. Under the primary supervision of Levente Kiss, Lauren is developing the molecular biology of the genus Ampelomyces, which is a close relative of L. maculans but rather than a plant pathogen a mycoparasite of powdery mildews.

Yuzhu Liu

Yuzhu is doing PhD research through the former Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences (now SAFES) under the primary guidance of Paul Taylor. She is aiming to discover the basis of the complex interaction between root-borne fungi and oomycetes causing decline impacting the pyrethrum industry in south-eastern Australia.