Discovering the nitrogen uptake regulatory system in maize (transcriptomics, metabolomics, microscopy)
Nutrient use efficiency in barley (nitrogen transport, nitrogen assimilation)
Salinity stress tolerance in rice (ion transport)
Darren's research goal is to improve the yield of cereal crops to provide more food for an expanding world population. He is using agricultural biotechnology and physiology techniques to discover the genes which regulate plant tolerance to abiotic stress. He then alters these genes to improve the tolerance of crop plants to stresses such as low soil nutrients, drought and salinity. Darren obtained his BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Manitoba, Canada. In his MSc thesis he investigated the potential effects of climate change on leaf lipid and seed oil quality in canola. He then moved to Australia and completed a PhD project where he improved the salinity tolerance of rice through cell type-specific expression of genes encoding sodium transporters. Prior to appointment as a Research Fellow in the lab of Prof Herbert Kronzucker at the University of Melbourne in 2018, he was employed by University of Adelaide as a Research Fellow to discover the system regulating nitrogen uptake in maize and wheat with the goal of altering the system to improve nitrogen uptake efficiency. A second focus of Darren's work was developing wheat and rice varieties with improved drought and salinity tolerance for release in developing countries. These projects received funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC), Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), DuPont-Pioneer and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
I am looking for highly motivated students who are interested in improving food security through development of cereal crops with greater tolerance to drought, salinity or are superior at accessing fertiliser from the soil. Potential projects will include fundamental science aspects of understanding plant ion transport physiology through to more applied sciences, such as plant biotechnology.