Erin McAdam

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Erin McAdam

Honorary Research Associate


Dr Erin McAdam is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences, under the direction of Dr Eloise Foo and Professor Jim Reid.  Her main research interest is in the genetic and hormonal regulation of plant development and physiology. She is currently working on a project that aims to better understand the hormone signals and genetic mechanisms that underlie plant-microbe interactions, particularly those that regulate the symbiotic relationship between plants in the legume family (Fabaceae) and nitrogen-fixing rhizobium bacteria.


Erin completed her undergraduate degree and PhD in the School of Plant Science at the University of Tasmania. The focus of her research thesis was to assess the genetic variation in hop (Humulus lupulus L.), a key ingredient in the brewing of beer, using molecular and quantitative genetic approaches. After being awarded her PhD in 2013, Erin worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Associate Professor John Ross, looking at auxin biosynthesis in pea (Pisum sativum) seeds, and in particular at the function of chlorinated auxin and the effects of auxin deficiency on the properties of pea seeds.  Since the beginning of 2015, Erin has worked with Dr Eloise Foo and Professor Jim Reid on a research project that aims to better understand the role of plant hormones (small mobile signals) in the regulation of the symbiotic relationships that occurs between legumes (plant such as peas, beans and lentils) and both nitrogen-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.

Career summary


DegreeThesis TitleUniversityCountryAwarded
PhDMolecular and quantitative genetic analysis of hop (Humulus lupulus L.)University of TasmaniaAustralia2013
BBiotech (1st Class Hons)Proteomic analysis of hop (Humulus lupulus L.)University of TasmaniaAustralia2008

View more on Dr Erin McAdam in WARP


  • Plant hormones
  • Plant development
  • Plant-microbe symbioses
  • Molecular biology
  • Linkage mapping and QTL analysis
  • Quantitative genetics
  • Proteomics
  • Tissue culture

Research Themes

Erin works as part of Dr Eloise Foo's research group, whose research aligns to the University's research theme of Environment, Resources and Sustainability. As part of this research group, Erin investigates the important symbiotic relationships that plants have evolved with microbes to access previously limiting soil nutrients. Plants need both nitrogen and phosphate for growth and development. Legumes (plants in the Fabaceae family, such as peas, beans and lentils) have developed a unique strategy to obtain nitrogen and phosphorus when these nutrients are deficient in the soil. They do this by forming symbioses with both rhizobial soil bacteria, leading to nitrogen-fixing nodules, and mycorrhizal soil fungi, leading to phosphate-acquiring arbuscules.

Erin uses physiocochemical techniques, molecular techniques and physiological experiments to better understand how plant hormones regulate these processes. Key objectives include determining which hormones are involved in the signalling dialogue that occurs between the plants and microbes forming the symbioses; which hormones plants use to regulate the developmental changes that occur in the roots to accommodate microbe colonisation; and how different plant hormones interact with each other during these processes.

This research will lead to a better understanding of how legumes gain access to limiting nutrients, which will ultimately equip plant breeders with additional resources to improve nutrient acquisition in plants. A better understanding of the beneficial interactions that occur between legumes and microbes may lead to the expansion of nitrogen-fixing capacity beyond non-legume species. These factors are important to increase agricultural production in a world with limited resources, facilitating sustainable food production.  Environmental management could also be improved, by minimising the impact of intensive farming.

Current projects

  • The role of plant hormones in legume symbioses

Fields of Research

  • Plant physiology (310806)
  • Horticultural crop improvement (incl. selection and breeding) (300803)
  • Plant biology (310899)
  • Plant cell and molecular biology (310803)

Research Objectives

  • Environmentally sustainable plant production (260199)
  • Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences (280111)
  • Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences (280102)
  • Hops (260605)
  • Horticultural crops (260599)
  • Field grown vegetable crops (260505)
  • Grain legumes (260303)
  • Rice (260308)


Total publications


Journal Article

(15 outputs)
2021Meitzel T, Radchuk R, McAdam EL, Thormahlen I, Feil R, et al., 'Trehalose 6-phosphate promotes seed filling by activating auxin biosynthesis', New Phytologist, 229, (3) pp. 1553-1565. ISSN 1469-8137 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/nph.16956 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 19Web of Science - 18

Co-authors: Ross JJ


2018Fonouni-Farde C, McAdam E, Nichols D, Diet A, Foo E, et al., 'Cytokinins and the CRE1 receptor influence endogenous gibberellin levels in Medicago truncatula', Plant Signaling and Behavior, 13, (2) Article e1428513. ISSN 1559-2316 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2018.1428513 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5

Co-authors: Nichols D; Foo E


2018McAdam EL, Reid JB, Foo E, 'Gibberellins promote nodule organogenesis but inhibit the infection stages of nodulation', Journal of Experimental Botany, 69, (8) pp. 2117-2130. ISSN 0022-0957 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ery046 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 28Web of Science - 28

Co-authors: Reid JB; Foo E


2017McAdam EL, Brodribb TJ, McAdam SAM, 'Does ozone increase ABA levels by non-enzymatic synthesis causing stomata to close?', Plant, Cell and Environment, 40, (5) pp. 741-747. ISSN 0140-7791 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/pce.12893 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 19Web of Science - 18

Co-authors: Brodribb TJ; McAdam SAM


2017McAdam EL, Hugill C, Fort S, Samian E, Cottaz S, et al., 'Determining the site of action of strigolactones during nodulation', Plant Physiology, 174, (3) pp. 1-16. ISSN 0032-0889 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1104/pp.17.00741 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 29Web of Science - 29

Co-authors: Hugill C; Davies NW; Reid JB; Foo E


2017McAdam EL, Meitzel T, Quittenden LJ, Davidson SE, Dalmais M, et al., 'Evidence that auxin is required for normal seed size and starch synthesis in pea', New Phytologist, 216, (1) pp. 193-204. ISSN 0028-646X (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/nph.14690 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 23Web of Science - 21

Co-authors: Quittenden LJ; Davidson SE; Smith JJ; Nichols DS; Urquhart S; Gelinas-Marion A; Ross JJ


2017McAdam SAM, Eleouet MP, Best M, Brodribb TJ, Carins Murphy M, et al., 'Linking auxin with photosynthetic rate via leaf venation', Plant Physiology, 175, (1) pp. 351-360. ISSN 0032-0889 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1104/pp.17.00535 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 21Web of Science - 22

Co-authors: McAdam SAM; Best M; Brodribb TJ; Carins Murphy M; Cook SD; Dimitriou T; Gelinas-Marion A; Gill WM; Maconochie M; McGuiness P; Nichols DS; Ross JJ; Sussmilch FC; Urquhart S


2016Cook SD, Nichols DS, Smith J, Chourey PS, McAdam EL, et al., 'Auxin biosynthesis: are the indole-3-acetic acid and phenylacetic acid biosynthesis pathways mirror images?', Plant Physiology, 171, (2) pp. 1230-1241. ISSN 0032-0889 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1104/pp.16.00454 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 26Web of Science - 26

Co-authors: Cook SD; Nichols DS; Smith J; Quittenden L; Ross JJ


2016Foo E, McAdam EL, Weller JL, Reid JB, 'Interactions between ethylene, gibberellins, and brassinosteroids in the development of rhizobial and mycorrhizal symbioses of pea', Journal of Experimental Botany, 67, (8) pp. 2413-2424. ISSN 0022-0957 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erw047 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 40Web of Science - 31

Co-authors: Foo E; Weller JL; Reid JB


2016Lam HK, Ross JJ, McAdam EL, McAdam SAM, 'The single evolutionary origin of chlorinated auxin provides a phylogenetically informative trait in the Fabaceae', Plant Signaling and Behavior, 11, (7) Article e1197467. ISSN 1559-2316 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2016.1197467 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Lam HK; Ross JJ; McAdam SAM


2015Lam HK, McAdam SAM, McAdam EL, Ross JJ, 'Evidence that chlorinated auxin is restricted to the Fabaceae but not to the Fabeae', Plant Physiology, 168, (3) pp. 798-803. ISSN 0032-0889 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1104/pp.15.00410 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 16

Co-authors: Lam HK; McAdam SAM; Ross JJ


2014McAdam EL, Vaillancourt RE, Koutoulis A, Whittock SP, 'Quantitative genetic parameters for yield, plant growth and cone chemical traits in hop (Humulus lupulus L.)', BMC Genetics, 15 Article 22. ISSN 1471-2156 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2156-15-22 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 16Web of Science - 14

Co-authors: Vaillancourt RE; Koutoulis A; Whittock SP


2014Quittenden LJ, McAdam EL, Davies NW, Ross JJ, 'Evidence that indole-3-acetic acid is not synthesized via the indole-3-acetamide pathway in pea roots', Journal of Plant Growth Regulation, 33, (4) pp. 831-836. ISSN 0721-7595 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s00344-014-9431-3 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Quittenden LJ; Davies NW; Ross JJ


2013McAdam EL, Freeman JS, Whittock SP, Buck EJ, Jakse J, et al., 'Quantitative trait loci in hop (Humulus lupulus L.) reveal complex genetic architecture underlying variation in sex, yield and cone chemistry', BMC Genomics, 14, (1) Article 360. ISSN 1471-2164 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-14-360 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 29Web of Science - 23

Co-authors: Freeman JS; Whittock SP; Vaillancourt RE; Koutoulis A


2011Howard EL, Whittock SP, Jakse J, Carling J, Matthews PD, et al., 'High-throughput genotyping of hop (Humulus lupulus L.) utilising diversity arrays technology (DArT)', Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 122, (7) pp. 1265-1280. ISSN 0040-5752 (2011) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s00122-011-1529-4 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 26Web of Science - 25

Co-authors: Whittock SP; Koutoulis A


Chapter in Book

(1 outputs)
2016Ross JJ, Miraghazadeh A, Beckett EH, Quittenden LJ, McAdam EL, 'Interactions between gibberellins and other hormones', Annual Plant Reviews - Volume 49: The Gibberellins, John Wiley & Sons, P Hedden and SG Thomas (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 229-252. ISBN 9781119210429 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1002/9781119210436.ch8 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5

Co-authors: Ross JJ; Beckett EH; Quittenden LJ


Conference Publication

(3 outputs)
2017Foo E, McAdam E, Hugill C, Fort S, Samain E, et al., 'Determining the site of action of strigolactones during nodulation', Proceedings from the 2nd International Congress on Strigolactones, 27-30 March 2017, Torino, Italy, pp. 1. (2017) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Foo E; Hugill C; Davies NW; Reid JB

2017Foo E, McAdam EL, Hugill C, Fort S, Samain E, et al., 'Determining the site of action of strigolactones during nodulation', Proceedings from the 2nd International Congress on Strigolactones, 27-30 March 2017, Torino, Italy, pp. 1. (2017) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Foo E; Hugill C; Davies NW; Reid JB

2013Whittock S, Price A, Howard E, Koutoulis A, 'Technology applied to the development of new flavour hop varieties in Australia', Acta Horticulturae , 9-14 September 2012, Zatec, Czech Republic, pp. 21-26. ISBN 978-906605696-1 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.1010.1 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Whittock S; Price A; Koutoulis A