Professor Matthew Gilliham

Matthew Gilliham
Deputy Head of School (Research)
School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Faculty of Sciences

Matt is an ARC Future Fellow and group leader in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. His areas of interest are crop plant nutrition and stress tolerance with a focus on salinity tolerance, stress signalling and membrane transport. He is also Deputy Head of School (Research) for the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, and Honorary Secretary of the Australian Society for Plant Scientists.

Matt gained a BSc in Ecology from Lancaster University and a PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Cambridge, both in the UK. After a postdoc at Cambridge, in 2006, he immigrated to Australia to run the Plant Transport and Signalling Laboratory at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide.

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Professor Matthew Gilliham

Matt is an ARC Future Fellow and group leader in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. His areas of interest are crop plant nutrition and stress tolerance with a focus on salinity tolerance, stress signalling and membrane transport. He is also Deputy Head of School (Research) for the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, and Honorary Secretary of the Australian Society for Plant Scientists.

Matt gained a BSc in Ecology from Lancaster University and a PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Cambridge, both in the UK. After a postdoc at Cambridge, in 2006, he immigrated to Australia to run the Plant Transport and Signalling Laboratory at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide.

Matt's group studies the transport and signalling processes that underpin improvements in crop nutrition and stress tolerance. His research scales from genetics, through cell biology and whole plant physiology. His lab's fundamental research is then applied through plant breeding to modify signalling and transport processes in plants to improve crop yield and quality in the field. His main areas of study include salinity tolerance, anionic nutrition (particulary chloride) and GABA signalling. Notable advances his group have made include:

  • The first demonstration that wheat salt tolerance and grain yield can be improved in the field through modification of transport genes (Nature Biotechnology).
  • The discovery of a mechanism by which GABA can act as a stress signal in plants (GABA-regulated anion channels) (Nature Communications).
  • The discovery that cell-specific ion accumulation has physiological roles (Plant Cell, New Phytologist)
  • Frequent demonstrations that cell-specific ion transport processes are critical for stress tolerance and nutrition (e.g. Plant Physiology, Plant Journal...).

He has also authored well-respected reviews in his key areas of study: salt tolerance; chloride transport; single cell transport processes and GABA signalling

Matt and his research group have won a number of awards, honours and fellowships for their work, including an ARC Future Fellowship, ARC DECRA Fellowships, ASPB Highly Cited Author, SA Tall Poppy Awards, Australian Federal Government Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture. 

For more information, see his lab website: Plant Transport and Signalling lab

or, The Centre of Excellence website: Plant Energy Biology

Do you want to join his research group?

PhD Scholarships

University scholarships for Australian students are known as Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA). These scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and in designated areas of research strength within the University. If a student does not secure an APA, then the School of Physical Sciences considers the option of divisional scholarships (based on academic merit and budget limits). The University also offers a range of Scholarships for international students.

Application involves filling in the "application form for admission/scholarship".

When applying for domestic scholarships please remember to tick both the APA and Divisional box.  After the closing date, the Graduate Centre will forward your application to the School to consider. If an APA is not awarded then the school will consider offering a divisional scholarship.  Further details can be found at the scholarship websites

Further information on international PhD scholarships can be found at:

Postdoctoral Positions

Postdoctoral positions arise from time to time, so if you're interested please get in touch and Matt will get back to you ASAP.


Date Position Institution name
2017 Deputy Head of School (Research) University of Adelaide
2017 Professor Univeristy of Adelaide
2017 Honorary Secretary Australian Society for Plant Scientists
2015 - 2016 Associate Professor University of Adelaide
2014 ARC Future Fellow University of Adelaide
2014 ARC Centre of Excellence Chief Investigator University of Adelaide
2013 - 2014 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
2006 - 2012 Senior Research Fellow University of Adelaide

Awards and Achievements

Date Type Title Institution Name Amount
2014 - 2017 ARC Future Fellowship University of Adelaide
2013 Science and Innovation Award ABRES (Australian Federal Government)
2012 South Australian Tall Poppy Australian Institute of Policy and Science


Date Institution name Country Title
Lancaster University United Kingdom BSc Ecology
University of Cambridge United Kingdom PhD Plant Sciences


Date Citation
2017 Li,B, Tester,M, Gilliham,M, 2017, Chloride on the Move, Trends in Plant Science, 22, 3, 236-248 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.12.004
2017 Gilliham,M, Able,JA, Roy,SJ, 2017, Translating knowledge about abiotic stress tolerance to breeding programmes, Plant Journal, - 10.1111/tpj.13456
2017 Li,B, Qiu,J, Jayakannan,M, Xu,B, Li,Y, Mayo,G, Tester,M, Gilliham,M, Roy,S, 2017, AtNPF2.5 modulates chloride (Cl-) efflux from roots of Arabidopsis thaliana, Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, - 10.3389/fpls.2016.02013
2016 Li,B, Byrt,C, Qiu,J, Baumann,U, Hrmova,M, Evrard,A, Johnson,A, Birnbaum,K, Mayo,G, Jha,D et al, 2016, Identification of a stelar-localized transport protein that facilitates root-to-shoot transfer of chloride in arabidopsis, Plant Physiology, 170, 2, 1014-1029 10.1104/pp.15.01163
2016 Munns,R, James,R, Gilliham,M, Flowers,T, Colmer,T, 2016, Tissue tolerance: an essential but elusive trait for salt-tolerant crops, Functional Plant Biology, 43, 12, 1103-1113 10.1071/FP16187
2016 Liu,Y, Yu,L, Qu,Y, Chen,J, Liu,X, Hong,H, Liu,Z, Chang,R, Gilliham,M, Qiu,L et al, 2016, GmSALT3, which confers improved soybean salt tolerance in the field, increases leaf Cl⁻ exclusion prior to Na⁺ exclusion but does not improve early vigor under salinity, Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, September2016, 1485-1-1485-14 10.3389/fpls.2016.01485
2016 Jaime-Pérez,N, Pineda,B, García-Sogo,B, Atares,A, Athman,A, Byrt,CS, Olías,R, Asins,MJ, Gilliham,M, Moreno,V et al, 2016, The sodium transporter encoded by the HKT1;2 gene modulates sodium/potassium homeostasis in tomato shoots under salinity., Plant Cell Environ, - 10.1111/pce.12883
2016 Ramesh,SA, Tyerman,SD, Gilliham,M, Xu,B, 2016, γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) signalling in plants, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 1-27 10.1007/s00018-016-2415-7
2016 Gilliham,M, Tyerman,S, 2016, Linking metabolism to membrane signaling: the GABA–malate connection, Trends in Plant Science, 21, 4, 295-301 10.1016/j.tplants.2015.11.011
2016 Hocking,B, Tyerman,S, Burton,R, Gilliham,M, 2016, Fruit calcium: transport and physiology, Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, APR2016, 569-1-569-17 10.3389/fpls.2016.00569
2016 Byrt,C, Zhao,M, Kourghi,M, Bose,J, Henderson,S, Qiu,J, Gilliham,M, Schultz,C, Schwarz,M, Ramesh,S et al, 2016, Non-selective cation channel activity of aquaporin AtPIP2;1 regulated by Ca2+ and pH, Plant Cell and Environment, - 10.1111/pce.12832
2016 Nagarajan,Y, Rongala,J, Luang,S, Singh,A, Shadiac,N, Hayes,J, Sutton,T, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,S, McPhee,G et al, 2016, A barley efflux transporter operates in a Na⁺-dependent manner, as revealed by a multidisciplinary platform, The Plant Cell, 28, 1, 202-218 10.1105/tpc.15.00625
2016 Baby,T, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,SD, Collins,C, 2016, Differential fruitset between grapevine cultivars is related to differences in pollen viability and amine concentration in flowers, Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 22, 1, 149-158 10.1111/ajgw.12191
2016 Qiu,J, Henderson,S, Tester,M, Roy,S, Gilliham,M, 2016, SLAH1, a homologue of the slow type anion channel SLAC1, modulates shoot Cl⁻ accumulation and salt tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana, Journal of Experimental Botany, 67, 15, 4495-4505 10.1093/jxb/erw237
2016 Baby,T, Collins,C, Tyerman,SD, Gilliham,M, 2016, Salinity negatively affects pollen tube growth and fruit set in grapevines and is not mitigated by silicon, American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 67, 2, 218-228 10.5344/ajev.2015.15004
2016 De Bei,R, Fuentes,S, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,S, Edwards,E, Bianchini,N, Smith,J, Collins,C, 2016, Viticanopy: A free computer app to estimate canopy vigor and porosity for grapevine, Sensors (Switzerland), 16, 4, - 10.3390/s16040585
2016 Amarasinghe,S, Watson-Haigh,N, Gilliham,M, Roy,S, Baumann,U, 2016, The evolutionary origin of CIPK16: a gene involved in enhanced salt tolerance, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 100, 135-147 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.03.031
2015 Ramesh,S, Tyerman,S, Xu,B, Bose,J, Kaur,S, Conn,V, Domingos,P, Ullah,S, Wege,S, Shabala,S et al, 2015, GABA signalling modulates plant growth by directly regulating the activity of plant-specific anion transporters, Nature Communications, 6, 7879-1-7879-9 10.1038/ncomms8879
2015 Liu,G, Sun,A, Li,D, Athman,A, Gilliham,M, Liu,L, 2015, Molecular identification and functional analysis of a maize (Zea mays) DUR₃ homolog that transports urea with high affinity, Planta, 241, 4, 861-874 10.1007/s00425-014-2219-7
2015 Munns,R, Gilliham,M, 2015, Salinity tolerance of crops - what is the cost?, New Phytologist, 208, 3, 668-673 10.1111/nph.13519
2015 Henderson,S, Wege,S, Qiu,J, Blackmore,D, Walker,A, Tyerman,S, Walker,R, Gilliham,M, 2015, Grapevine and Arabidopsis cation-chloride cotransporters localize to the Golgi and trans-Golgi network and indirectly influence long-distance ion transport and plant salt tolerance, Plant Physiology, 169, 3, 2215-2229 10.1104/pp.15.00499
2014 Tian,Q, Zhang,X, Ramesh,S, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,S, Zhang,W, 2014, Ethylene negatively regulates aluminium-induced malate efflux from wheat roots and tobacco cells transformed with TaALMT1, Journal of Experimental Botany, 65, 9, 2415-2426 10.1093/jxb/eru123
2014 Henderson,S, Baumann,U, Blackmore,D, Walker,A, Walker,R, Gilliham,M, 2014, Shoot chloride exclusion and salt tolerance in grapevine is associated with differential ion transporter expression in roots, BMC Plant Biology, 14, 1, 273-1-273-18 10.1186/s12870-014-0273-8
2014 Athman,A, Tanz,S, Conn,V, Jordans,C, Mayo,G, Ng,W, Burton,R, Conn,S, Gilliham,M, 2014, Protocol: a fast and simple in situ PCR method for localising gene expression in plant tissue, Plant Methods, 10, 1, 29-1-29-19 10.1186/1746-4811-10-29
2014 Vandeleur,R, Sullivan,W, Athman,A, Jordans,C, Gilliham,M, Kaiser,B, Tyerman,S, 2014, Rapid shoot-to-root signalling regulates root hydraulic conductance via aquaporins, Plant, Cell and Environment, 37, 2, 520-538 10.1111/pce.12175
2014 Byrt,C, Xu,B, Krishnan,M, Lightfoot,D, Athman,A, Jacobs,A, Watson-Haigh,N, Plett,D, Munns,R, Tester,M et al, 2014, The Na⁺ transporter, TaHKT1;5-D, limits shoot Na⁺ accumulation in bread wheat, The Plant Journal, 80, 3, 516-526 10.1111/tpj.12651
2014 Loveys,BR, Kaiser,BN, McDonald,G, Kravchuk,O, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,S, Able,AJ, 2014, The development of student research skills in second year plant biology, International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 22, 3, 15-25
2014 Baby,T, Hocking,B, Tyerman,SD, Gilliham,M, Collins,C, 2014, Modified method for producing grapevine plants in controlled environments, American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 65, 2, 261-267 10.5344/ajev.2014.13121
2014 Guan,R, Qu,Y, Guo,Y, Yu,L, Liu,Y, Jiang,J, Chen,J, Ren,Y, Liu,G, Tian,L et al, 2014, Salinity tolerance in soybean is modulated by natural variation in GmSALT3, Plant Journal, 80, 6, 937-950 10.1111/tpj.12695
2013 Waters,S, Gilliham,M, Hrmova,M, 2013, Plant High-Affinity Potassium (HKT) transporters involved in salinity tolerance: structural insights to probe differences in ion selectivity, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 14, 4, 7660-7680 10.3390/ijms14047660
2013 Conn,S, Hocking,B, Dayod,M, Xu,B, Athman,A, Henderson,S, Aukett,L, Conn,V, Shearer,M, Fuentes,S et al, 2013, Protocol: optimising hydroponic growth systems for nutritional and physiological analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana and other plants, Plant Methods, 9, 1, 4-4 10.1186/1746-4811-9-4
2012 Conn,S, Berninger,P, Broadley,M, Gilliham,M, 2012, Exploiting natural variation to uncover candidate genes that control element accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana, New Phytologist, 193, 4, 859-866 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03977.x
2012 Munns,R, James,R, Xu,B, Athman,A, Conn,S, Jordans,C, Byrt,C, Hare,R, Tyerman,S, Tester,M et al, 2012, Wheat grain yield on saline soils is improved by an ancestral Na+ transporter gene, Nature Biotechnology, 30, 4, 360-364 10.1038/nbt.2120
2011 Gilliham,M, Dayod,M, Hocking,B, Xu,B, Conn,S, Kaiser,B, Leigh,R, Tyerman,S, 2011, Calcium delivery and storage in plant leaves: exploring the link with water flow, Journal of Experimental Botany, 62, 7, 2233-2250 10.1093/jxb/err111
2011 Gilliham,M, 2011, Preface, Journal of Experimental Botany, 62, 7, 2231-2232 10.1093/jxb/err085
2011 Conn,S, Conn,V, Tyerman,S, Kaiser,B, Leigh,R, Gilliham,M, 2011, Magnesium transporters, MGT2/MRS2-1 and MGT3/MRS2-5, are important for magnesium partitioning within Arabidopsis thaliana mesophyll vacuoles, New Phytologist, 190, 3, 583-594 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03619.x
2011 Gilliham,M, Athman,A, Tyerman,S, Conn,S, 2011, Cell-specific compartmentation of mineral nutrients is an essential mechanism for optimal plant productivity-another role for TPC1?, Plant Signalling & Behavior, 6, 11, 1656-1661 10.4161/psb.6.11.17797
2011 Michard,E, Lima,P, Borges,F, Silva,A, Portes,M, Carvalho,J, Gilliham,M, Liu,L, Obermeyer,G, Feijo,J et al, 2011, Glutamate receptor-like genes form Ca²⁺ channels in pollen tubes and are regulated by pistil D-serine, Science, 332, 6028, 434-437 10.1126/science.1201101
2011 Conn,S, Gilliham,M, Athman,A, Schreiber,A, Baumann,U, Moller,I, Cheng,N, Stancombe,M, Hirschi,K, Webb,A et al, 2011, Cell-specific vacuolar calcium storage mediated by CAX1 regulates apoplastic calcium concentration, gas exchange, and plant productivity in arabidopsis, Plant Cell, 23, 1, 240-257 10.1105/tpc.109.072769
2010 Preuss,C, Huang,C, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,S, 2010, Channel-like characteristics of the low affinity barley phosphate transporter Pht1;6 when expressed in Xenopus Oocytes1,[W],[OA], Plant Physiology, 152, 3, 1431-1441 10.1104/pp.109.152009
2010 Dayod,M, Tyerman,S, Leigh,R, Gilliham,M, 2010, Calcium storage in plants and the implications for calcium biofortification, Protoplasma, 247, 3, 215-231 10.1007/s00709-010-0182-0
2010 Plett,D, Safwat El Hussieny,G, Gilliham,M, Moller,I, Roy,S, Shirley,N, Jacobs,A, Johnson,A, Tester,M, 2010, Improved salinity tolerance of rice through cell type-specific expression of AtHKT1;1, PLoS One, 5, 9, 1-8 10.1371/journal.pone.0012571
2010 Conn,S, Gilliham,M, 2010, Comparative physiology of elemental distributions in plants, Annals of Botany, 105, 7, 1081-1102 10.1093/aob/mcq027
2009 Moller,I, Gilliham,M, Jha,D, Mayo,G, Roy,S, Coates,J, Haseloff,J, Tester,M, 2009, Shoot Na+ exclusion and increased salinity tolerance engineered by cell type-specific alteration of Na+ transport in arabidopsis, Plant Cell, 21, 7, 2163-2178 10.1105/tpc.108.064568
2009 Vandeleur,R, Mayo,G, Shelden,M, Gilliham,M, Kaiser,B, Tyerman,S, 2009, The Role of Plasma Membrane Intrinsic Protein Aquaporins in Water Transport through Roots: Diurnal and Drought Stress Responses Reveal Different Strategies between Isohydric and Anisohydric Cultivars of Grapevine, Plant Physiology, 149, 1, 445-460 10.1104/pp.108.128645
2008 Roy,S, Gilliham,M, Berger,B, Essah,P, Cheffings,C, Miller,A, Davenport,R, Liu,L, Skynner,M, Davies,J et al, 2008, Investigating glutamate receptor-like gene co-expression in Arabidopsis thaliana, Plant Cell and Environment, 31, 6, 861-871 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2008.01801.x
2008 Tracy,F, Gilliham,M, Dodd,A, Webb,A, Tester,M, 2008, NaCl-induced changes in cytosolic free Ca2+ in Arabidopsis thaliana are heterogeneous and modified by external ionic composition, Plant Cell and Environment, 31, 8, 1063-1073 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2008.01817.x
2006 Gilliham,M, Sullivan,W, Tester,M, Tyerman,S, 2006, Simultaneous flux and current measurement from single plant protoplasts reveals a strong link between K⁺ fluxes and current, but no link between Ca²⁺ fluxes and current, Plant Journal, 46, 1, 134-144 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2006.02676.x
2005 Gilliham,M, Tester,M, 2005, The Regulation of Anion Loading to the Maize Root Xylem, Plant Physiology, 137, 3, 819-828 10.1104/pp.104.054056
2000 Kiegle,E, Gilliham,M, Haseloff,J, Tester,M, 2000, Hyperpolarisation-activated calcium currents found only in cells from the elongation zone of Arabidopsis thaliana roots, Plant Journal, 21, 2, 225-229 10.1046/j.1365-313X.2000.00659.x

Book Chapters

Date Citation
2015 Henderson,SW, Gilliham,M, 2015, The “Gatekeeper” Concept: Cell-Type Specific Molecular Mechanisms of Plant Adaptation to Abiotic Stress, Wiley, New Jersey, pp. 83-116 10.1002/9781118860526.ch4
2012 Roy,S, Conn,S, Mayo,G, Athman,A, Gilliham,M, 2012, Transcriptomics on small samples, Springer, New York, pp. 335-350 10.1007/978-1-61779-986-0_22
2009 Tyerman,S, Vandeleur,R, Shelden,M, Tilbrook,J, Mayo,G, Gilliham,M, Kaiser,B, 2009, Water transport and aquaporins in grapevines, Springer, Dordrecht, Netherland, pp. 73-103 10.1007/978-90-481-2305-6_4
2007 Gilliham,M, 2007, Membrane structure and the study of solute transport across plant membranes, Blackwell Publishers Inc, Oxford, UK, pp. 47-74 10.1002/9780470988862.ch4
2006 Gilliham,M, Campbell,M, Dubos,C, Becker,D, Davenport,R, 2006, The Arabidopsis thaliana glutamate-like receptors (AtGLR), Springer, Berlin, pp. 187-204 10.1007/978-3-540-28516-8_13

Conference Papers

Date Citation
2009 Conn,S, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,S, Kaiser,B, Leigh,R, 2009, Calcium compartmentation in arabidopsis mesophyll cells, a mechanism to regulate apoplastic calcium, photosynthetic rates and growth, involves low-affinity, high-capacity Ca2+/H+ antiporters, International Plant Nutrition Colloquium, California
2009 Preuss,C, Huang,C, Gilliham,M, Tyerman,C, 2009, Barley phosphate transporter 1;6 shows broad inorganic anion transport activity when expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, International Plant Nutrition Colloquium, California

Curated or Produced Public Exhibition or Events

Date Citation
2015 Waters,S, Gilliham,M, Hrmova,M; 2015; Micro-biomachines helping plants survive salt; University of Adelaide; E-Science Magazine of the University of Adelaide

Current Grants

ARC Future Fellow (2014-2017) Chloride Transport in Plant

ARC Discovery (2017-2019) GABA signalling in plants

ARC Linkage (2015-2018) Ancient diversity in aridity and salinity tolerance of cereals

GRDC Large Grant (2013-2017) Improving salinity tolerance of cereals

Wine Australia (2014-2017) Molecular markers for salt tolerance in grapevine

International Wheat Yield Partnership (2016-2019) Improving wheat energy use efficiency

Australian National Data Service (2016-2017) CropTIPS - Transport Information, Physiology and Signalling; and AGRICONNECT - linking Australian Agricultural Databases



Matt teaches into the Bachelor of Applied Biology, Viticulture and Oenology and Agricultural Science degrees, and the Masters in Biotechnology (Plant Biotechnology) program. 

Current students

Yue Wu (Grapevine salinity tolerance)
Yue Qu (Salinity tolerance of soybean)
Xueying Feng (GABA signalling in plants)
Johannes Scharweis (Regulation of leaf hydraulics) 
Shanika Amarasinghe (CIPK16 and salt tolerance)

Daniel McKay (Role of calmodulin-like proteins in plasmodesmatal regulation)

Staff - Postdoctoral Scientists       
Dr Rakesh David              CROPTiPs – Transporter Bioinformatics
Dr Yu Long                       GABA signalling in plants
Dr Jiaen Qiu                     Anion transport in plants
Dr Sam Henderson          Salt transport in grapevine
Dr Bo Xu                          GABA signalling in plants
Dr Allison Pearson           Fine mapping of tolerance traits in wheat 

Affiliated Research Fellows
Dr Stefanie Wege             Anion transport in plants (ARC DECRA)
Dr Caitlin Byrt                   Salt tolerance in cereals (ARC DECRA)
Dr Jay Bose                     Chloroplast transport (ARC DECRA)
Dr Xujin Zhu                     GABA signalling in plants (CSC Scholar)

Lab Managers
Dr Rebecca Vandeleur - ARC PEB node manager
Ali Mahfekeri - Lab manager



Date Role Membership Country
2015 Member American Society for Enology and Viticulture United States
2012 Member Australian Society for Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) Australia
2006 Member American Society for Plant Biology (ASPB) United States
2006 Member Australian Society for Plant Scientists (ASPS) Australia
1998 Member Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) United Kingdom

Committee Memberships

Date Role Committee Institution Country
2017 Secretary Australian Society for Plant Scientists

Editorial Boards

Date Role Editorial Board Name Country
2015 Associate Editor BMC Plant Biology
2014 Associate Editor Frontiers in Plant Science
Deputy Head of School (Research)
8313 0431
Plant Research Centre
Room Number
2 24
Org Unit
School of Agriculture, Food and Wine