Emeritus Prof. John Patrick
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 5712|
Faculty of Science and Information Technology
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||SB304, Science Building|
On balance, opportunities to secure career achievements have not negatively impacted in excess of those constraints experienced by those researchers operating in an academic setting of an Australian tertiary institution. My career has focused on developing an international research profile, providing an intellectually stimulating research environment for RHD students and postdoctoral fellows, delivering undergraduate courses in ways that optimise understanding, critical thinking and technical skills together with accepting administrative duties for the public good. Assessment of my research profile can be measured against continuous funding from ARC across thirty three years, a total publication output of peer reviewed 106 research papers, 18 reviews and 20 book chapters (total citations >2,900 leading to a h-index of 31) as well as 30 invited oral presentations at international conferences. Success in training capable researchers is reflected by the relatively high proportion of past RHD students and postdoctoral fellows securing academic/research positions (see Expertise section). Claims of strong positive learning outcomes from delivery of undergraduates courses are supported by student evaluation survey scores exceeding 80 percentile values. Reasonable contributions have been made to the public good of the scientific community within and outside The University of Newcastle.
- PhD, Macquarie University
- Bachelor of Science (Agriculture), University of Sydney
- Plant molecular physiology, nutrient transport, seed filling, phloem unloading
The paradigm that sink processes exert primary control over biomass distribution in plants (Patrick 1997) has guided my approach to discovering how nutrient transport is regulated. In established non-meristimatic sinks, control is restricted to sink transport processes (Patrick 1997). To examine these transport phenomena experimentally, we introduced an innovative model using developing legume seeds (Patrick & McDonald 1980) on which substantial progress has been made in understanding cellular pathway, mechanism and control of nutrient transport (Patrick & Offler 2001; Zhang et al. 2007). Employing novel structure/function approaches, CE Offler (University of Newcastle) and I showed that nutrient release/uptake occurs in specialised transport cells located at maternal/filial seed interfaces (Patrick & Offler 2001). These studies highlighted a central role for transfer cells in developing seeds (Offler & Patrick 1993). A claim since verified by physiological (McDonald et al. 1996) and molecular (Harrington et al. 1997) observations. In collaboration with CE Offler and SD McCurdy (University of Newcastle) a major research program has been undertaken to discover gene networks responsible for induction of and building the wall labyrinth (eg Wardini et al. 2007 a, b). With NA Walker (University of Sydney), we showed that sucrose release from maternal seed tissues was energy coupled by a proton antiport mechanism (Patrick 1997) and that uptake by their filial tissues occurs by sucrose/H+ symport (McDonald et al. 1996). The latter finding was the first direct demonstration of transport function by a higher plant transfer cell. These findings underpinned a collaboration with WB Frommer (Carnegie Institute, Stanford University) in cloning genes encoding sucrose/ (Tegeder et al. 1999), amino acid/ (Tegeder et al. 2000) H+ symporters and sucrose effluxers (Zhou et al. 2007). Recently, a molecular genetic approach established that sucrose transporters play a central role in determining biomass accumulation by seeds (Rosche et al. 2002). With SD Tyerman (University of Adelaide) and Walker, we discovered ion channels, including novel non-selective channels, responsible for release of phloem-imported ions from seed coats (Zhang et al. 2002). Coordination of transport events in maternal and filial seed tissues are considered to be regulated by a turgor homeostatic mechanism located in maternal seed tissue (Patrick 1997; Zhang et al. 2004). Our expertise in nutrient loading of developing legume seeds provided a strong information platform to undertake similar studies of cereal grains in collaboration with RT Furbank (CSIRO Plant Industry eg. Aoki et al. 2004). Working along similar lines to those described above, discovering the cellular pathway of phloem unloading in developing tomato fruits (Ruan and Patrick 1995) underpinned an ongoing collaboration with DW McCurdy that has identified hexose transporters as major determinants of fruit sugar levels (cf. Gear et al. 2000), a key agronomic trait. Intellectual property, derived from results obtained using forward and reverse genetic studies, is protected by a provisional patent (APPAN: 2006906647). The latter describes an experimentally validated approach to increase fruit sugar levels. A current consultancy for CSR to advise on a multimillion-dollar research program to increase sucrose content of sugarcane is predicated on my experience in nutrient distribution in plants.
Molecular physiology of nutrient transport and distribution within plants with a particular interest in membrane transport including development of cells specialized for membrane transport, transfer cells
Fields of Research
|Plant Cell And Molecular Biology(060702)||40|
Centres and Groups
- Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration
- Plant Productivity
ARC Committee member
- Member - College of Experts
- Editor - Associate Editor, Functional Plant Biology
- Member - Faculty 1000 (2000 - )
- Editor - Journal of Experimental Botany
Advisory Board, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (Australia)
Phloem Transport/Plant Vascualr Biology Conference (Australia)
University of Tuebingen (Germany)
01/07/2001 - 01/08/2001
Australian Society of Plant Scientitsits (Australia)
01/01/2004 - 01/12/2007
University of Adelaide (Australia)
01/09/2004 - 01/12/2004
|Plant Carbon Dynamics|
ComBio 2009, New Zealand (Conference Presentation - non published.)
|International Conference on Phloem Transport|
International Organising Committee, Germany (Conference Presentation - non published.)
|International Plant Vascular Biology Conference|
Tawain Academy of Sciences, Taiwan (Conference Presentation - non published.)
|Plant Cell; Structure-Function Relations|
International Symposium iin memory of Vincent Franceschi, WSU, United States (Conference Presentation - non published.)
|Seeds in the -omics era|
9th International Conference on Plant Seeds, Germany (Conference Presentation - non published.)
|Department of Plant Science|
The University of Tasmania, Australia (External Reviewer - Departments.)
" Chair, Faculty Research Committee, Faculty of Science and IT (1999 - 2003).
" Manager, Plant Growth Facility (1979 - 2008).
" Facilitator, Plant Science Group (1990 - 2008).
" Course Co-ordinator for BIOL 2220 (1998 - 2008) and BIOL 3330 (1998 - 2008).
" Chair, Scientific Program Committee for the 1999 International Conference on Assimilate Transport and Partitioning convened at Newcastle.
" Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Experimental Botany (1991 to present).
" Member of FACULTY of 1000. Author on-line reviews of papers in the Life Sciences. (2000 to present).
Associate Editor, Functional Plant Biology (2008 - )
" Member of ARC College of Experts, Biological Sciences and Biotechnology Panel (2004 - 2006).
Member of ARC Future Fellowship Panel (2008 - )
" Honorary Secretary, Australian Society of Plant Scientists (2004 - 2006).
Member of the Advisory Board, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (2008 - )
" International and national working groups and committees such as:
Crop Productivity - Research Imperatives Revisited (1986). Kettering Foundation.
Terminology, Symbols & Units in Plant Physiology (1987). F. Salisbury ed.
International Phloem Transport Conference Committee (1990 to present).
External Review of CSIRO Sub-program: Photoassimilates, Carbon Partitioning and Energy (1998).
Workshop review CRC Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (1998).
Pre-review of Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tasmania (2003).
Member of the steering committee for the formation of an International Society entitled Plant Communication Network (2003 - ).
- Undergraduate plant physiology and plant development; Honours and RHD supervision
I have a commitment to, and enthusiasm for, achieving excellence in
optimising the learning experience of students at both under- and
postgraduate levels. I have taught at all levels in delivering undergraduate
Biology courses. My overall guiding principle is to offer a secure learning
environment in which students can assimilate the skills and basic
understanding required. The approach is predicted on first to be trained as a
scientist, then a biologist and ultimately a person competent in the particular
Biological sub-discipline being taught. To achieve these broad objectives, I
work at stimulating students to recognise the excitement of scientific
discovery and the practical implications of the topic at hand. This creates an
environment that empowers them to take charge of their learning process
while offering training in skills required to pursue a scientific inquiry. Such
skills include a capacity to question, to develop logical argument, to plan and
undertake experiments, to critically analyse information, to integrate ideas, to
think laterally and to communicate in both verbal and written forms.
As a postgraduate supervisor, I am committed to offering a stimulating
research environment and training students toward being independent and
competent researchers. The prime focus of the latter is time management,
experimental design and execution, critical evaluation of the literature and
their results and scientific writing and presentation skills. This is achieved
through a number of approaches. Our group meets weekly to provide a
venue for students to discuss their findings in an informal setting. This
program is supplemented with one-on-one fortnightly meetings with each
student. The training students receive is put into rigorous practise by
encouraging them to participate regularly in national conferences and to
prepare their results for publication in peer-reviewed international journals.
In this context, our students have each published at least one paper and in
one case 8 papers from their research projects. Except for one student, all
Higher Degree students under my supervision have successfully completed
their degrees. Twelve of the 14 have pursued active careers in science and
hold positions in the tertiary sector (2 x Associate Professors in Australian
Universities; 2 x tenure track in US; 1 x Lecturer in Indonesia), industry (1),
government research institutions and agencies (3) and as a journal editor (1
Nature Biotech) and postdoctoral fellows (2).
Since 1976, when the first crop of Biological Science graduates became
available, I have supervised 22 Honours students three of whom received
University medals on graduation and 7 of whom have gone onto undertake
PhD programs under my supervision. My Honours supervision style follows
that outlined for the PhD program. The difference is that there is a more
intense feedback as they progress through assessment tasks of preparing an
essay, presenting two seminars and writing a thesis.