Professor Yong-Ling Ruan from the School of Environmental and Life Sciences is Director of the Australia-China Research Centre for Crop Improvement (ACRCCI). ACRCCI focuses on discovering key genes and biological processes controlling plant development and stress tolerance for innovative applications to improve food security and agricultural sustainability by bringing together research teams of international excellence in plant biology and breeding.

Improving crop productivity and stress tolerance is crucial to underpin sustainable agriculture and social stability worldwide. The issue has become particularly urgent in recent years in light of (i) the demand to double world crop yield by 2050 to feed more people with less arable land and (ii) the increased incidents of Global warming-associated drought, salt and heat stresses and pathogen and pest infections.

China and Australia are two major countries where agriculture plays key roles in their economy but faces similar challenges as how to improve crop yield, quality and stress tolerance for food, feed, fuel, fibre and other end products. To tackle this grand challenge, plant biologists and crop scientists from both countries have initiated strategic collaborative research in recent years with complementary expertise and facilities. The collaboration has begun to yield valuable outcomes and opened enormous opportunities and potentials for crop genetic improvement.


Over the last 10 years, the Centre has achieved outstanding outcomes. Evidence of success includes:

  • Published 53 papers. Among them more than 50% were appeared in ERA A or A+ journals. This output has contributed significantly to the top ERA ranking (five star) of Plant Biology at UoN consecutively for four times since 2010.
  • Established ongoing research collaboration with 5 partner institutes in China. Expansion of the Centre to include 12 top Australian and Chinese Institutes.
  • Winning 4 national and international grants from governments and Industry- funding bodies. The high quality and impact of the 2013 Group mission project has been recognised by Federal Government as a Case Study (Role Model) for future scheme.
  • Attracted 9 visiting scholars and PhD students to undertake research at ACRCCI.
  • Implementing 16 reciprocal research visits.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.