Christopher Ford

Associate Professor Christopher Ford

Interim Head of School

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Over the past 10 years we have been working largely in the following area: 

  • Developing an understanding of organic acid metabolism in plants. Within my laboratory, and in collaboration with Dr John Bruning (School of Biological Sciences) and Assoc. Prof. Kathleen Soole (The Flinders University of South Australia) we are investigating the mechanisms by which developing grape berries metabolise ascorbic, tartaric and malic acids. To achieve this we are using a range of biochemical, molecular and metabolic approaches in whole berries and cell suspension systems.

I have had past research engagement with the characterisation of glucosyltransferase enzymes (GTases) involved in plant secondary metabolism. I started working in this area in 1995 when a post-doc with Prof. Peter Hoj; we identified and characterised the anthocyanidin Gtase from grapevines. In 2006, Prof. Gideon Davies at The University of York and his group successfully resolved the three-dimensional structure of this enzyme - the outcome of a huge amount of work over the previous three years. In 2014 I began co-supervising PhD student Lieke van der Hulst (principal supervisor Kerry Wilkinson) on a project to examine GTs associated with the formation of glycosides in grapes affected by smoking.

We have also undertaken research aimed at unravelling the outcomes of extended maceration (EM) in the production of red wines. During red wine production, the period of contact between berry skins and juice, must or wine may be extended beyond the normal periods to provide additional properties to the finished wine. We hope to both understand the processes and be in a position to advise the wine industry on strategies for achieving desired wine outcomes.

    Current CMF Lab members:

    Jenny Bellon - PhD student (based at AWRI

    Hui Hui Chong - PhD student (based at EJ Gallo Winery, Modesto, CA)

    Jin-Chen Li (co-supervised with Vlad Jiranek) - PhD student

    Pietro Previtali - PhD student

    Emi Schutz - MPhil student

    Past PhD students: Louise Robinson; Seth DeBolt; Susan Wheeler; Lin Lin Low, Iraj Tavassolian, Venetia Joscelyne, Vicky Harris, Vanessa Melino, Erminawati Wuriatmo, Alana Capaldo, Crystal Sweetman, Crista Burbidge, Cyd Yonker, Martin Mendez, Tony Ogbeide, Amy Koschella, Darren Wong, Yong Jia, Emily Higginson, Lieke van der Hulst.

    Past Honours students: Madeleine Griffith; Belinda Sinclair; Christobelle Anderson; Guy Lyons; Sam Gavan; Sam Hambour; Kelly Wellington, Katie Grieve, Greg Lane, Sid Pachare, Craig Turnbull, Yue Cue.

    Past Masters students - Mario Mazza; Jayendra Patel; Chandra Rongala, Steve Hicks.

    Past post-docs: Matt Hayes, Crystal Sweetman.

     

     

    Wine 2030: Grapevine metabolism: the effects of increased day and night-time temperatures on berry composition of organic acids. 2011. Dr Chris Ford

    $19,029.

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project Ref. UA 1002: Organic acid metabolism and the control of grape berry acidity in a warming climate. 2010-2015. Dr Chris Ford.

    $687,000

     

    Australian Research Council – LIEF Grant LE0989336: The South Australian Facility for Small and Large Molecule X‑Ray Diffraction Structure Determination. Dr CJ Sumby; Prof JA Carver; Prof JC Wallace; Asst Prof M Hrmova; Prof A Pring; Prof AD Abell; Dr GW Booker; Prof MI Bruce; Dr J Brugger; Dr CM Ford; Dr HH Harris; Dr JC Morris; Prof JC Paton; Dr DJ Peet; Dr SM Pyke; Dr KE Shearwin; Dr RI Menz; Dr CA Abbott; Dr PA Anderson; Dr MH Brown; Dr MR Johnston; Dr KA Schuller; Prof AF Lopez; Dr SM Pitson; Prof SF Lincoln; Prof RA McKinnon.

    $ 560,000

     

    Australian Research Council – Discovery Grant DP0985378: The control of metabolite glucosylation during grape berry development. 2009. Dr Chris Ford, Prof. Dennis Taylor, Dr Mark Thomas, Dr Paul Boss.

    $100,000.

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project Ref. GWR H06/06: Tartaric acid biosynthesis gene expression in Arabidopsis thaliana. Honours scholarship and research support. 2007.

    $2,000

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project Ref. GWR H06/06: sensory and compositional consequences of extended maceration in red wine making. Honours scholarship and research support. 2007.

    $2,000

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project Ref. UA 06/02: Organic acid metabolism during grape berry development. 2006-2009;

    $379,500

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project Ref. UA 05/03: Consequences of extended maceration on the composition of red wines. 2005-2008;

    $110,151

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project Ref. UA 05/02: The role of ascorbic acid in grape berry development. 2005-2008;

    $127,051

     

    Australian Research Council – Linkage Grant LP0560480; Understanding, controlling and improving the flavour of almond kernels. 2005-2007. Prof. Margaret Sedgley, Dr Brent Kaiser and Dr Chris Ford

    $300,000

     

    Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture – Sub-program 3, Project 3.3.3 Organic acid metabolism.

    March 2003 to September 2006;

    $45,000 per annum; $9,000 additional support in 2006 for generation of transgenic grapevines

     

    Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture – Sub-program 1, Project 1.2 The Tannin Project

    July 2003 to June 2005;

    $15,000 per annum

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Growth and physiology of Brettanomyces/Dekkera yeast and the production of flavour impact compounds in wine. Paul Grbin, Vladimir Jiranek and Chris Ford.

    $167,000

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project UA 02/03 Metabolic consequences of the transfer of an entire plant secondary metabolic pathway into grapevine hairy root cultures. March – November 2003;

    $3,960.00

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project UA 02/04 An investigation of flavonol glucosyltransferase activity in grapevine tissues. March – November 2003;

    $4,400.00

     

    Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – Project UA 01/07 The development of an assay for the activity of tartaric acid biosynthetic enzymes in grapevine tissues. March – November 2002;

     $3,217.50

    2001-present

    I deliver approximately half of the lectures in Animal and Plant Biochemistry, at both Waite and Roseworthy campuses (ca 20 hours per campus), and am also responsible for tutorial classes (3 hours per week) at Waite. I was Course Coordinator and principal lecturer for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework-level teaching in Introductory Winemaking from 2001 to 2013, and resumed this role in 2015. I also coordinate and teach the final-year course Grape and Wine Industry Practice, Policy and Communication. Previously to this I was the CC and principal lecturer for Wine Packaging & Quality Management (2001-2008), and Fermentation Technology (2009-2010). I continue to present lectures in Fermentation Technology and Viticultural Science III.

    Program Coordination

    The Bachelor of Applied Biology degree, launched at UA in 2015, was developed under my leadership during 2013 and 2014. I am Program Convenor for this degree, and continue to be actively engaged in establishing the curriculum structure, including Major Pathways, the Student Exchange and Work Placement components.

    Course Coordination

    I am Coordinator for the Level II course Animal and Plant Biochemistry, delivered to around 200 students at the Waite and Roseworthy campuses. I convened the working group that developed this course in 2008. I am also the Course Coordinator for the Level II Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology (BVO) and Masters of Viticulture and Oenology course Introductory Winemaking, and the Level III course Grape Industry, Practice, Policy and Communications.

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    • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

      Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
      2018 Co-Supervisor Understanding Spatiotemporal Patterns of Fruit Composition in Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyards in Central California Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Brent Shipley Sams
      2018 Principal Supervisor Breaking the sugar:flavour nexus - growing grapes with more flavour and less sugar Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Pietro Previtali
      2017 Principal Supervisor Using Grapevine enzymes to make novel biochemicals Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Emi Kaye Schutz
      2016 Co-Supervisor Microbial Solutions to Wine Compound Elimination Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jin-Chen Li
    • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

      Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
      2014 - 2018 Co-Supervisor The Analysis of Grapevine Response to Smoke Exposure Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Lieke Van Der Hulst
      2014 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Investigations and Applications of Self-Sufficient Cytochrome P450 Monooxygenases Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Samuel Munday
      2012 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Role of Soluble Cell Wall Carbohydrates in Sensory Mouthfeel Attributes of Red and White Wines Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Hui Hui Chong
      2012 - 2016 Principal Supervisor The Genetic Basis of Acid Composition in Developing Berries of This Cultivated Grapevine Vitis vinifera Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Emily Grace Higginson
      2012 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Consumer Willingness to Pay Premiums for the Benefits of Organic Wine and the Expert Service of Wine Retailers Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Osadebamwen Anthony Ogbeide
      2011 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Molecular and Structural Characterization of the Candidate Enzymes Responsible for Tartaric Acid Synthesis in the Grapevine Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Yong Jia
      2011 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Ascorbate metabolism during fruit development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Darren Chern Jan Wong
      2010 - 2014 Principal Supervisor An Investigation of the Role of the Regulatory Gene VvMYBA1 in Colour, Flavour and Aroma Metabolism Using Transgenic Grapevines Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Amy Rinaldo
      2009 - 2012 Principal Supervisor The Influence of Cabernet Sauvignon Grape Maturity on the Concentration and Extraction of Colour and Phenolic Compounds in Wine Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Cynthia Yonker
      2009 - 2012 Co-Supervisor Factors Affecting the Levels of 3 Isobutyl 2 Methoxpyrazine and C6 Compounds in Vitis Vinifera L Merlot Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Martin Pablo Mendez Costabel
      2008 - 2018 Principal Supervisor The Development and Evolution of Saccharomyces Interspecific Hybrids for Improved, Industry Relevant, Phenotypes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Jennifer Bellon
      2008 - 2011 Co-Supervisor Application of Citral to Control Postharvest Diseases of Oranges Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Erminawati Wuryatmo
      2007 - 2012 Co-Supervisor Genes and Mechanisms Responsible for Beta-Glucose Metabolism in the Oenologically Important Lactic Acid Bacterium Oenococcus Oeni Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Miss Alana Capaldo
      2006 - 2009 Co-Supervisor Physiological, Biochemical and Molecular Characterisation of Hydroxycinnamic Acid Catabolism by Dekkera and Brettanomyces Yeasts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Miss Victoria Harris
      2005 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Ascorbate Metabolism in Grape Berries during Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Vanessa Melino
      2005 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Consequences of Extended Maceration for Red Wine Colour and Phenolics Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Venetia Joscelyne
      2004 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Construction of a Microsatellite Base Genetic Linkage Map of Almond Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Iraj Tavassolian
      2003 - 2007 Co-Supervisor The Role of Abscisic Acid in Grape Berry Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Susan Wheeler
      2003 - 2007 Co-Supervisor Evaluation of Tartrate Stabilisation Technologies for Wine Industry Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Lin Low
      2003 - 2006 Principal Supervisor Tartaric Acid Biosynthesis in Plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Prof Seth DeBolt
      2002 - 2004 Co-Supervisor Identification of Pollen Donors for Olive Cultivars Master of Applied Science Master Full Time Miss Sonali Mookerjee
      2001 - 2005 Principal Supervisor An investigation of a barley protein (SE/BTI-CMe) and its influence on beer haze stability Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Louise Robinson
    • Position: Interim Head of School
    • Phone: 83136713
    • Email: christopher.ford@adelaide.edu.au
    • Fax: 8313 7116
    • Campus: Waite
    • Building: Wine Innovation Central, floor 1
    • Room: 1 08
    • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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