My main research interests are fungal genetics and fungal diseases of plants. Most of the research involves Leptosphaeria maculans, the fungus that causes blackleg disease of canola. My approach ranges from developing plant disease management strategies, to jointly leading an initiative with French scientists to sequence and annotate the 16,000 genes of this fungus. My research team has pioneered the development of genetic and molecular techniques for the blackleg fungus to understand how the fungus causes disease. We use molecular markers to monitor populations of the blackleg fungus for changes of virulence. We also study sclerotinia stem rot of canola. Many findings are of major significance to fungal biology and plant disease.
I also am analyzing genes involved in the biosynthesis of an important class of toxins (epipolythiodioxopiperazines) in a range of filamentous fungi, including animal and plant pathogens. These toxins include sirodesmin in L.maculans and gliotoxin in Aspergillus fumigatus. We are analysing regulation and evolution of toxin gene clusters in fungi.
Current projects are listed in my lab home page http://www.botany.unimelb.edu.au/blackleg.html
2009: Editorial Board: Eukaryotic Cell
2009: Associate Editor: PLoS Pathogens
2007-8: Associate Editor: PLoS One
2005-present: Senior Editor: Molecular Plant Pathology