Research projects | The Team | Publications


James Douch

James completed an Honours project in 2018 to resolve the ambiguous species relationships in Australian taxa in genera found in the family Bankeraceae, such as Sarcodon, co-supervised by Tom May at the Royal Botanic Gardens.  James is currently finishing these studies for publication.

Dr. Candace Elliott

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.

Prof. Barbara Howlett, FAA

Barb was a University of Melbourne undergraduate and PhD student, working with Bruce Knox on pollen wall allegens.  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.

Kerryn Popa

Kerryn completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne with an Honours year in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She first joined the Blackleg Lab as a research assistant in 1998. She then did her MPhil research in the School of Botany and Department of Genetics. After a five year European adventure, Kerryn returned to Australia and rejoined the group in 2014. In 2017 she started working on pollen biology with Ed Newbigin, and can be found in the Mycology lab.

Naima Tasnim

Naima started PhD research in 2017 in a collaborative project between the Mycology group, Ute Roessner and Josh Heazlewood.  She is investigating the role of fungal cell wall synthesis pathways on the pathogenicity of Leptosphaeria maculans and the impact of changing the fungal cell wall on host recognition.

Andrew Urquhart

Andrew completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne, and in 2015 was the final School of Botany Honours student, working on effectors and other pathogenicity modulators in Leptosphaeria maculans.  Andrew started his PhD research on L. maculans in 2016, testing the functions of genes that are most highly expressed at different stages of disease.

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.

Yongqing Yang

Yongqing is a PhD student with Dr. Ziqin Li at the Inner Mongolia Academy of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Sciences, China.  Her research is investigating mechanisms of antifungal drug resistance in canola pathogens.