We investigate ways of improving hop for the brewing and emerging industries, including: (i) in vitro tetraploid induction and evaluation by flow cytometry; (ii) mutagenesis to generate superior varieties; and (iii) gene/protein discovery. We use some of the above technologies for polyploid breeding in commercial species of Acacia, and use tissue culture for the improvement and conservation of rare and threatened native Tasmanian plants.
In the Developmental Genetics group, we are using a molecular genetic approach to understand more about the basic biology of important processes in plant development, using pea as a model system. Interests within the group include plant hormone biosynthesis, light perception, the control of flowering, stem elongation, apical dominance, phase change and seed development.
Tasmania's vegetation provides many opportunities to study patterns and ecological processes. One area of interest is the impact of climate change (CO2 increase) on the vegetation, and this work makes use of a field-based Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) facility. Other studies focus on the fossil record of the last 65 million years and biogeographic patterns in the extant vascular and cryptogam flora.
Our research focuses on the genetic structure of eucalypt populations and gene flow between plantations and native forests in order to develop better conservation strategies, to understand the sequence of evolution in the genus and the evolutionary processes operating, and to determine the genetic basis of interactions between eucalypts and dependent mammals, insects and fungi.
The Environmental Change Biology Group is a dynamic group of people and research fields. We use a range of research techniques to investigate links between plants and the environment, and the change in these interactions caused by climate change.