Associate Professor David McCurdy

Associate Professor David McCurdy

Associate Professor

School of Environmental and Life Sciences (Biological Sciences)

Career Summary

Biography

My research interests lie in the field of plant cell and molecular biology. I am a member of the Centre for Plant Science in the Discipline of Biological Sciences. The group of plant scientists at Newcastle making up the Centre are internationally recognized for their research, reflected by Plant Biology research at Newcastle earning consecutive ERA (Excellence in Research Australia) rankings of 5 (maximum score) in 2010, 2012 and 2015, one of only five research groupings at Newcastle to achieve this feat.

My PhD research (Supervisor: Richard Williamson) was conducted at both LaTrobe University and ANU and focused on the role of actin-like proteins in chloroplasts. After a three year Post-Doctoral appointment at the University of Georgia working on phytochrome with Prof Lee Pratt, I returned to the ANU as a Post-Doctoral Fellow working with Prof Brian Gunning and then independently as a Queen Elizabeth II Fellow. Following these appointments at ANU, I moved to the University of Newcastle and joined the Plant Science Group as a Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Currently my research focuses on investigating the cell and molecular biology of transfer cells in plants. This research was initiated by ARC-funded collaborations with A/Prof Tina Offler and later with Prof John Patrick. Transfer cells have evolved the unique capacity to build highly polarized wall ingrowths which serve to amplify plasma membrane surface area and hence increase the capacity of these cells to maximise nutrient transport. Apart from their important role in enhancing nutrient transport in plants, thus influencing crop yield, the deposition of highly polarized wall ingrowths represents a fascinating and unique example of localized wall deposition in plant cells. My research has used cell biological and EM techniques (Bulbert et al 1998; Talbot et al 2001, 2002, 2007; Vaughn et al 2007) to provide new insights into the unique morphology of wall ingrowths in transfer cells, and has used molecular techniques to understand molecular regulation of both the induction of transfer cells (Dibley et al 2009; Zhou et al 2010; Andriunas et al 2011, 2012) and the subsequent building of reticulate papillate wall ingrowths (Zhang et al 2015, 2015, 2015). My significant input into studying transfer cell development includes co-supervising with A/P Offler the development of a dry-cleave procedure to visualize wall ingrowth morphology in transfer cells by SEM. This technique has been instrumental in obtaining a detailed morphological understanding of how the complex wall ingrowth apparatus originates from discrete papillate projections of the parent wall (Talbot et al 2001, 2002), and has been the foundation procedure for subsequent ARC-funded research on transfer cells in Vicia faba cotyledons at Newcastle.

My current research on transfer cells also uses the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. Using Arabidopsis provides access to the enormous genetic and bioinformatics resources available in this species to investigate molecular regulation of transfer cell development. My lab has used this approach to identify putative candidate regulators of transfer cell development (Edwards et al 2010; Arun-Chinnappa et al 2013) and recently we developed a fluorescence staining procedure which allows confocal microscopy imaging of wall ingrowth deposition in this model species (Nguyen & McCurdy 2015). Results from these studies are providing new insights into the function of wall ingrowths in transfer cells and how this process may be regulated.

A long-standing research interest has focused on the actin cytoskeleton in plant cells. In collaboration with Prof Ray Rose, I have investigated cytoskeletal regulation of organelle inheritance during plant cell division. This study formed the PhD research of Dr Michael Sheahan and provided the first evidence that plants use tightly regulated mechanisms to achieve accurate organelle partitioning at cell division. This research resulted in four publications (Sheahan et al 2004a, 2004b, 2005, 2007) and four reviews (Rose et al 2006a, 2006b, the latter an invited contribution to Encyclopedia of Life Sciences; Sheahan et al 2008; Sheahan et al 2016 - in press). The Plant Journal paper (Sheahan et al 2004a) attracted widespread interest and was reviewed as a Faculty of 1000 publication. The Plant Physiology paper (Sheahan et al 2004b) introduced a new tool (GFP:fABD2) to visualize actin dynamics in living plant cells which was adopted by the international research community as the best available probe for this purpose. The development GFP:fABD2 led to a successful collaboration with Prof Chris Staiger (Purdue University) which produced several publications including Staiger et al (2009) which used novel imaging techniques to monitor the dynamic properties of cortical actin in plant cells. This paper continues to be one of the most highly cited papers on the actin cytoskeleton in plant cells. 

In addition to these research interests, in collaboration with Prof John Patrick, I have investigated the molecular biology of hexose transporters in developing tomato fruit. This ARC and Industry funded research resulted in the publication of three papers (Gear et al 2000; Dibley et al 2005; McCurdy et al 2010) and establishment of an Australian Provisional Patent (#2006906647 Plants with increased hexose content. Patrick, Dibley & McCurdy).


Research Expertise

Research expertise in plant cell and molecular biology, focusing on transfer cells, plant cytoskeleton, cell wall and membrane transporters.

Teaching Expertise

BIOL3310 - Plant Cell and Molecular Biology; BIOL2220 - Plant Cell Development; BTEC2230 - Biomolecules; BIOL2002 - Laboratory Skills in Biology; BIOL3001 - Advanced Laboratory Skills

Administrative Expertise

Student Academic Conduct Officer, School of Environmental and Life Sciences.

Program Convenor – B. Biotech. Honours Program.

Member: FSCIT Faculty Board.



Qualifications

  • PhD, La Trobe University
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), La Trobe University

Keywords

  • Plant cell and molecular biology

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
060705 Plant Physiology 15
060702 Plant Cell and Molecular Biology 85

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Associate Professor University of Newcastle
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/11/1992 -  Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Australia

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
Member - American Society of Plant Biologists American Society of Plant Biologists
United States
Member - The Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists The Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists
Japan
1/01/2007 - 31/12/2007 Member - Organising Committee, ASPS ComBio Australian Society of Plant Scientists
Australia
1/01/2006 - 1/01/2009 Cell Biology Representative Australian Society of Plant Scientists
Australia
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 15
Total funding $4,134,800

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20142 grants / $425,000

Expansion and Upgrade of the Newcastle Plant Growth Facility$230,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Associate Professor David McCurdy, Professor Christopher Grof, Doctor Andy Eamens, Professor Yong-Ling Ruan, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler
Scheme Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities (LIEF)
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1300636
Type Of Funding Scheme excluded from IGS
Category EXCL
UON Y

Expansion and Upgrade of the Newcastle Plant Growth Facility$195,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor David McCurdy, Professor Christopher Grof, Doctor Andy Eamens, Professor Yong-Ling Ruan, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler
Scheme Equipment Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1300231
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20131 grants / $160,000

Refurbishment of the Newcastle Plant Growth Facility$160,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor David McCurdy, Professor Christopher Grof, Professor Yong-Ling Ruan, Emeritus Professor Ray Rose, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler
Scheme Equipment Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2013
GNo G1200380
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20112 grants / $950,000

Specialised Greenhouse Space for New Initiatives $500,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Professor Christopher Grof, Professor Yong-Ling Ruan, Associate Professor David McCurdy, Emeritus Professor John Patrick, Emeritus Professor Ray Rose
Scheme Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities (LIEF)
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2011
Funding Finish 2011
GNo G1000631
Type Of Funding Scheme excluded from IGS
Category EXCL
UON Y

Expansion of the Newcastle Plant Growth Facility$450,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Professor Christopher Grof, Professor Yong-Ling Ruan, Associate Professor David McCurdy, Emeritus Professor John Patrick, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler
Scheme Equipment Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2011
Funding Finish 2011
GNo G1000458
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20103 grants / $615,000

Laser microdissection microscopy system for cell and development biology$350,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Professor Eileen McLaughlin, Conjoint Professor Keith Jones, Laureate Professor John Aitken, Professor Brett Nixon, Doctor Shaun Roman, Professor Alan Brichta, Doctor Rick Thorne, Associate Professor Doug Smith, Associate Professor David McCurdy, Emeritus Professor Ray Rose, Professor Christopher Grof, Emeritus Professor Leonie Ashman, Professor Gordon Burns, Associate Professor Brett Graham, Associate Professor Paul Tooney, Laureate Professor Roger Smith, Laureate Professor Paul Foster, Professor Trevor Day, Professor Robert Callister
Scheme Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities (LIEF)
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2010
GNo G0190369
Type Of Funding Scheme excluded from IGS
Category EXCL
UON Y

20093 grants / $995,000

Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy for Live Cell Imaging$275,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Conjoint Professor Keith Jones, Professor Eileen McLaughlin, Laureate Professor John Aitken, Emeritus Professor Ray Rose, Emeritus Professor John Patrick, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler, Associate Professor David McCurdy, Emeritus Professor Leonie Ashman, Professor Gordon Burns, Professor Dirk Van Helden, Doctor Nikki Verrills, Professor Brett Nixon, Doctor Shaun Roman, Professor Yong-Ling Ruan, Doctor Rick Thorne, Professor Mike Calford
Scheme Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities (LIEF)
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2009
Funding Finish 2009
GNo G0189038
Type Of Funding Scheme excluded from IGS
Category EXCL
UON Y

20051 grants / $207,189

20041 grants / $329,504

Upgrade and expansion of Newcastle Plant Growth Facility$329,504

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Emeritus Professor John Patrick, Emeritus Professor Ray Rose, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler, Associate Professor David McCurdy, Mr Michael Cole, Doctor Geoffrey MacFarlane, Professor John Rodger
Scheme Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities (LIEF)
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2004
Funding Finish 2004
GNo G0183029
Type Of Funding Scheme excluded from IGS
Category EXCL
UON Y

19991 grants / $203,107

Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope Facility.$203,107

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Laureate Professor John Aitken, Emeritus Professor John Patrick, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler, Associate Professor David McCurdy, Emeritus Professor Ray Rose, Doctor Tim Roberts, Conjoint Associate Professor Russell Jones, Doctor John Clulow, Emeritus Professor John Rostas, Professor Alistair Sim, Professor Gordon Burns, Conjoint Professor Loris Chahl, DR DAVID KAY
Scheme Large Equipment Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 1999
Funding Finish 1999
GNo G0177945
Type Of Funding Scheme excluded from IGS
Category EXCL
UON Y

19981 grants / $250,000

Specialised Environmental Space for Newcastle Plant Growth$250,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Emeritus Professor John Patrick, Emeritus Professor Ray Rose, Conjoint Professor Christina Offler, Associate Professor David McCurdy, Mr Michael Cole
Scheme Large Equipment Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 1998
Funding Finish 1998
GNo G0177584
Type Of Funding Scheme excluded from IGS
Category EXCL
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed9
Current3

Total current UON EFTSL

PhD1.25

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2017 PhD Investigating the Development of Transfer Cell by Identifying "Master Switches" - Transcription Factors in Arabidopsis PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2017 PhD The Molecular Biology of Phi Thickening Development in Plant Roots, and the Roles Played by Phi Thickenings in Root Growth in Response to Environmental Stress PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2013 PhD Investigating Molecular Regulation of Transfer Cell Development in the Model Flowering Plant Arabidopsis Thaliana PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2017 PhD Investigating Transcriptional Regulation of Transfer Cell Development in Arabidopsis thaliana PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2017 PhD Investigating Development of Phloem Parenchyma Transfer Cells in Arabidopsis thaliana PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2016 PhD An Investigation of Transcriptional Regulation of Wall Ingrowth Formation in Plant Transfer Cells PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2013 PhD Discovering Roles of Calcium and Cortical Microtubules in Directing Ingrowth Wall Formation During Trans-Differentiation of Epidermal Cells to a Transfer Cell Morphology PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2011 PhD Transfer Cell Trans-differentiation in Vicia Faba Cotyledons: Regulatory Roles of Ethylene, Glucose and Reactive Oxygen Species PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2007 PhD Towards an Understanding of Organelle Inheritance Processes During Plant Cell Dedifferentiation PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2006 PhD Investigating mechanisms of localized wall ingrowth deposition in transfer cells PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2005 PhD The Role of Hexose/H+ Symporters in Sugar Accumulation by Fruit of Tomato (Lycopersicon Esculentum) PhD (Biological Sciences), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2001 PhD Molecular biology of hexose transporters in tomato fruit Biol Sc Not Elsewhere Classifd, University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Associate Professor David McCurdy

Position

Associate Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science

Focus area

Biological Sciences

Contact Details

Email david.mccurdy@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 5879
Fax (02) 4921 5472

Office

Room BG13
Building Biological Sciences.
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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