The philosophy of the Centre for Plant Science (CPS) is to encourage and support members to pursue the fields of plant science that ignite their passion for research. This is undertaken in a supportive and high-quality research environment fostered through cooperative activities by CPS members that include:
- Weekly meetings of academic staff, postdocs, visitors and research students provide a forum for sharing the diversity of our research programs and collective broad experience.
- Striving for excellence in research training though co-supervision and mentoring programs.
- Seeking competitive funding to acquire critical research infrastructure and to support research initiatives when opportunities arise. We have a strong record of success in obtaining research and infrastructure funding from the Australian Research Council that has underpinned creation of start-of-the art laboratory and plant growth facilities.
The fruits of these initiative are manifested in productive research outcomes for all CPS members. For instance, since 2010, when the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) assessment scheme was introduced, we have achieved the highest ranking -- “well above international standard” -- in all four rounds.
The CPS has a long-established national and international reputation for discovering the physiological and molecular mechanisms regulating nutrient transport and metabolism in higher plants, as well as regulation of transfer cell development. While research programs addressing nutrient transport across membranes and transfer cell biology remain, with the appointment of additional academic staff, the research of the Centre has diversified to encompass emerging areas of plant science. These include:
- using Setaria as a genetic model for C4 photosynthetic plants,
- developing new varieties of medicinal Cannabis through forward and reverse genetic strategies,
- exploiting cotton fibre as a single-cell experimental model to study cell growth and cellulose biosynthesis,
- determining the regulatory functions of small RNAs in plant development and environmental stress adaptation,
- exploring novel ways to sustain plant reproduction success under global warming, and,
- studying the molecular and cellular development of specialised plant cell walls.
The formation of the Australia-China Research Centre for Crop Improvement (ACRCCI) in 2009 added an international collaborative program to the research profile of the Centre. Currently international collaborations are enabling the identification of mechanisms conferring tolerance and adaptability of select crop species to environment stress.
Some members of the Centre for Plant Science are custodians of the Don McNair Herbarium - for details see www.newcastle.edu.au/donmcnairherbarium