The PCBRC performs research in many aspects of plant and multi-cellular organisms. Key research programs are:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls
The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls (CoE PCW) is an international research and training centre that will define the regulation of molecular, enzymic and cellular processes that control the synthesis, deposition, re-modelling and depolymerisation of wall polysaccharides of cereals and grasses.
Cellular exoskeletons in plants
The group of Staffan Persson investigates the cellular exoskeletons in plants; the plant cell walls. These structures are complex and dynamic, and are mainly composed of highly glycosylated proteins and polysaccharides, such as pectin, hemicellulose and cellulose. Cellulose is the world's most abundant biopolymer and is a key morphological component of the plant cell. It is also of great importance for various industrial applications, including paper, textile and biofuel production. Despite the importance of cellulose, little is known about how plants make this polymer and how the need for cellulose production is communicated to the cell. Furthermore, the means by which cellulose and other cell wall polymers form a stable, yet flexible, matrix are largely unexplored. The research group, which started in Melbourne in 2015, therefore strives to provide mechanistic insight into how plant cell walls are made, with a focus on cellulose biosynthesis.
Metabolomics describes the analysis and identification of the complement of small molecules in biological systems such as mammals, plants, animals, and microbes. Metabolomics aims to monitor the changes of particular metabolites following genetic or environmental stimuli and those are then used as biomarkers of health, disease and/or quality.
Under the leadership of A/Prof Joshua Heazlewood, this research group aims to uncover new knowledge on metabolomics partitioning and its role in plant cell wall biosynthesis by employing biochemical, molecular and bioinformatic approaches.
Our group investigates different aspects about the molecular biology of species within the fungal kingdom. Our emphasis is on the fungi that cause problems to humans, with a focus on the species that causes blackleg disease of canola and those species that cause cryptococcosis disease in people.
Plant Biochemistry (Roessner lab)
The Roessner research group is interested in understanding how Australian crops, such as cereals and legumes, adapt and tolerate challenging environmental conditions including water and nutrient deficiencies, salinity, heat or cold. We are applying systems biology approaches such as genomics, transcriptomics, lipidomics and metabolomics to compare the biochemical responses of crop plants with contrasting tolerance levels to identify novel adaptation and tolerance mechanisms.
Micronutrient-poor food crops are the cause of human nutritional disorders around the world. We are using biotechnology to generate micronutrient-enriched rice and wheat plants that "biofortify" human diet with iron and zinc.
A/Prof Ed Newbigin is a pollen biologist who studies pollen and pollen biology at the molecular, cellular and environmental level.
Symbiosis and Parasitism
The McFadden lab is interested in malaria, corals and endosymbiosis. The connection between these three topics is symbiosis and the origin of organelles such as plastids and mitochondria. We use cell biology and molecular genetics to understand how parasitism and symbiosis work, how they evolved, and how we can manage them better.