Research projects | The Team | Publications


Nicholas Chong

Nick is undertaking a PhD on molecular biology aspects of Leptosphaeria maculans, especially the impact of repetitive DNA sequences on its biology.

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.

Jack Scanlan

Jack joined the team the team the day Melbourne went into stage 4 lockdown to tackle COVID-19.  A recent graduate from Charlie Robin’s lab at the University of Melbourne, Jack is addressing a number of aspects about blackleg disease of canola, including spear-heading a new version of the International Blackleg of Crucifers Network (IBCN) collection of isolates. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackLScanlan

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 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.

Melvin Xu

Melvin is working on challenges associated with development in entomopathogenic fungi in the Cordycipitaceae family, supported by colleagues at GhostmothLabs.


And with us in spirit, if not always physically…

Dr. Candace Elliott

Candace works at the post entry quarantine facility in Mickleham, and has an honorary position at the University.  Candace did her PhD research at the Sainsbury Laboratory in the John Innes Centre (UK) on the Mlo genes in plants, and joined the blackleg lab in 2002.  Her research interests include discovering the mechanisms by which Leptosphaeria maculans evades detection by canola plants during early infection and trying to unravel the complex array of secondary metabolites made by L. maculans as well as other fungal pathogens.

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 Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences 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.

Pipob Suwanchaikasem

Pipob is doing his PhD based in the School of BioSciences, primarily supervised by Berin Boughton (Murdoch University), exploring metabolomics and imaging technology associated with the roots of industrial hemp. This research involves finding solutions to hydroponic challenges, with support and interactions from Nufrifield.