Genetics and Molecular Biology

The Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy’s Genetics and Molecular Biology Program sequences, edits and studies the genomes, and epigenomes, of a wide range of plant species including those of crops, biofactory variants and model plants.

The continued improvement of sustainable crops becomes even more critical as the world’s population grows, new crop diseases emerge, and climate change creates harsher conditions.

The genes of a crop plant determine its growth, development, survival and quality. Classical plant breeding and cutting-edge molecular genetics have produced higher-yielding, better-tasting and more resilient crops.

Real-world innovation

Our Program advances plant genome editing, understanding of gene and genome harmony, and incorporates discoveries into new plant breeding techniques. We generate high quality, chromosome-level genome assemblies to guide the Program’s research and that of others around the world using plant biofactories to develop vaccines and therapeutics, improve plant architecture and decrease juvenility, and increase crop resistance against drought, pests and diseases. 

We conduct genomic and genetic investigations to understand the pathways that enable tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress, promote earlier flowering in tree crops and to develop technologies for rapidly introducing these genes and pathways into crops using next generation breeding (NGB). 

Our team has developed an open access chromosome-level assembly of Nicotiana benthamiana, made available ahead of publication to research groups worldwide for use in molecular pharming projects aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic

What we do

Program leader

  • Dr Julia Bally

    Program Leader (Genetics and Molecular Biology) and Postdoctoral Senior Research Fellow in Plant Biotechnology, Faculty of Science

Research team