Professor Matt Gilliham
Matt gained a BSc in Ecology from Lancaster University and a PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Cambridge, both in the UK. In 2006 he immigrated to Australia to run the Plant Cell Physiology Laboratory at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide. In 2012, he was awarded a South Australian Tall Poppy Award for Excellence in Science Research and Communication, The Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and a Group of Eight China-Australia Fellowship. In 2013, he received an ARC Future Fellowship.
Plants' have been predicted to use approximately 40% of the energy they gain through photosynthesis on ion transport processes. The proportion of this energy used increases when a plant faces challenging environmental conditions such as temperature stress, drought or salinity. Matt's research aims to understand the basis of this relationship - and to explore how plant mineral ion transport processes can be manipulated to improve plant nutrient use efficiency and stress tolerance.
Matt's research clearly establishes the importance of the key ion transport processes that occur in specific cell-types to determine where mineral nutrients are stored and those that can be used to improve crop salinity tolerance. His discoveries include the first demonstrations of: substantial improvements in wheat grain yield under saline field conditions through the introduction of a Na+ transport protein to specific root cell types (in collaboration with CI Munns); and that calcium is stored in specific cells of the leaf to prevent downstream events that reduce photosynthesis and growth (with CI Tyerman).
His lab is co-located with CI Tyerman at the University of Adelaide, where they share state of the art systems to functionally characterise genes encoding membrane transporters. He has active collaborations with researchers in Australia, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, US and China.
Broad Research Interests:
- The functional characterisation of salinity tolerance mechanisms in crop and model plants, especially those related to membrane transport
- The regulation of membrane transport systems by plant energy status, and C:N balance
- Defining the respiratory costs of solute transport
- The mechanisms of cell-specific nutrient storage
- The use of knowledge gained from the above in breeding programs to improve crop nutrient use efficiency and abiotic stress tolerance