14 December 2018

For seven years, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls has been undertaking research to advance our understanding of plant cell wall biology to enable sustainable biomass production for food security, human health and energy biomass conversion.

Initially led by Professor Geoffrey Fincher, the Centre of Excellence was established in 2011 with over $20 million in funding through the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme. The Centre quickly became a magnet for top-quality researchers and postgraduate students to its nodes at The University of Adelaide, The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland. 

Under the leadership of Professor Vincent Bulone since January 2015, the Centre of Excellence has powered ahead with fundamental breakthroughs.

“One of the holy grails of plant biology over the past decades has been uncovering the secrets of the composition and function of plant cell walls,” says Professor Mike Brooks, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at The University of Adelaide.

“This highly collaborative ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls has unlocked some of the mysteries of plant cell wall formation, structure and function in both model plants and commercial crops,” says Professor Brooks. “This has improved our fundamental knowledge and provided opportunities for real-world applications in multiple sectors.”

The Centre has been fertile ground for early career researchers, and the work of Dr Caitlin Byrt in identifying genes for salt tolerance in wheat, and identifying candidate crops for biofuels, has previously featured in ARC research highlights and the ARChway newsletter.

Professor Brooks says that the research shows great promise for advances in agricultural biotechnology and crop improvement; nutrition, food quality and gut health; industrial crop processing; bioenergy; crop protection; and environmental sustainability, and has helped train future research and development leaders in plant sciences in Australia and around the world.

The ARC congratulates everyone involved in this Centre of Excellence on their achievements, which will continue to influence the direction of plant cell wall research in Australia and around the world for many years to come.

 

Image: Professor Rachel Burton from the Centre of Excellence for Plant Cell Walls. Credit: University of Adelaide.