Iain Searle

Dr Iain Searle

Deputy Head of Genetics and Evolution

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

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


Our research in plant and animal epigenetics has been driven by a strong interest in understanding and elucidating the molecular mechanisms of how plants and animals adapt to environmental signalling and how speciation barriers evolve in plants.

Epigenetics, broadly defined, refers to all genetic information not encoded in the DNA sequence, with the best-understood consequence of epigenetic modifications being the regulation of gene expression. Although gene transcription and protein synthesis is required for plant development, the full repertoire of epigenetic mechanisms underpinning biological adaptation and speciation barriers remain equivocal. Post-translational modification of histone proteins (i.e. acetylation, ubiquitination, etc) and the covalent modification of DNA (i.e. adenine methylation, cytosine methylation and other recently discovered marks) can influence the function of the genome in a myriad of ways, for example regulation of alternative splicing. In addition, the majority of the genome is pervasively transcribed such that more than 90% of transcriptional activity is related to the production of various long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA), which possess no or limited protein-coding capacity. Expansion of these transcriptionally active non-coding sequences in plant and animal genomes appears to have occurred primarily in higher multicellular organisms.

Furthermore, emerging evidence from our laboratory and others that RNA modifications play an important role in extending the transcriptional space. Thus, both RNA modifications and lncRNAs represent attractive candidates for achieving context- and stimulus-specific epigenetic regulation of gene expression.

Fundamental Research-  We currently use a combination of molecular genetics, epigenomics and bioinformatics (high performance computing) to answer our research questions on long non-coding RNAs and RNA modifications. Honours, Masters, PhD and postdoctoral projects in genetics, epigenetics and bioinformatics are available.

Translational Research- We recently translated our wide-hybridisation technology to the Australian canola (Brassica napus) industry. In doing so we introduced disease resistance genes from either B. rapa or B. oleracea to synthesise B. napus (canola) with novel disease resistance. We are currently extending our translational canola research by connecting with international partners. Honours, Masters and PhD projects are available to develop the technology further in collaboration with industry partners. Are you a potential industry partner and want to connect? Don't hesitate to contact me.

Interested in joining our laboratory as an undergraduate placement student or postgraduate student? What to join our mentor programme? Ready to excel and be challenged with fascinating biological questions? Please don't hesitate to email me.

Publications- https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=F23tKLkAAAAJ&hl=en

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2014 - 2018 ARC Future Fellow University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2014 ARC QEII Fellow Australian National University
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    German Can speak and understand spoken
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2004 University of Queensland Australia PhD
    1996 University of Queensland Australia B Ag Sci Hons
  • Postgraduate Training

    Date Title Institution Country
    2007 - 2009 Wellcome Trust VIP Fellow University of Cambridge United Kingdom
    2006 - 2007 Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow The Sainsbury Laboratory United Kingdom
    2002 - 2006 Max Planck Postdoctoral Fellow Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research Germany

Competitive funding only listed below

  • ACSRF Australia-China Joint Research Centre of Grains for Health- Investigators Gibosn, Searle, et al (2016-2019)
  • Hermon Slade Foundation- Investigator Searle (2017-2020)
  • ARC Future Fellowship FT130100525- Investigator Searle (2014-2018)
  • ASTE Travel Grant- Investigator Searle (2015)
  • ACSRF Australia-China Young Scientists Exchange Programme- Investigator Searle (2014)
  • GRDC E-Innovation award- EzyCross- Investigators Searle & Salisbury (2013-2014)
  • GRDC Travel Grant- Investigator Searle (2013)
  • ANU Connect Ventures Direct Translation Fund- Investigators Lohe and Searle (2012)
  • CSIRO SEIF top-up PhD scholarship- Investigators Searle and Helliwell (2011-2013)
  • ARC Discovery Grant DP110103805- Investigators Searle and Helliwell (2011-2013)
  • ARC QEII Fellowship DP0988846- Investigator Searle (2009-2014)
  • Wellcome Trust Value-In-People Award- Investigator Searle (2008-2009)
  • Epigenome travel scholarship- Investigator Searle (2007)
  • Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship- Investigator Searle (2006-2007)
  • MICRO 2500 - Microbiology II
  • GENETICS 2510 - Genetics IIA
  • GENETICS 3211 - Gene Expression & Human Developmental Genetics III
  • SCIENCE 3500- Opening Doors to the Middle Kingdom
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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Principal Supervisor Vetch as a New Protein Source for the Human Diet Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Mr Samuel Arthur George Riley
    2019 Principal Supervisor The role of RNA modifications on RNA Processing in Arabidopsis thaliana Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Pei Qin Ng
    2018 Principal Supervisor The Role of RNA Modifications in Endosperm Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Huong Thi Thuy Ta
    2018 Principal Supervisor The genetic basis of floral variation in the Brassicaceae Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mrs Jayashrini Sakunthala Madawala
    2017 Principal Supervisor Identification of an RNA m5C demethylose from plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Xingyu Wu
    2017 Co-Supervisor Major Evolutionary Adaptive Events in Brassicaceous Plants and Their Insect Hosts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Christopher Michael Ward
    2017 Principal Supervisor Zero Toxin Grain Pulse Vetch Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Vy Hoang Thao Nguyen
    2016 Principal Supervisor The role of RNA modifications in plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jun Li
    2016 Principal Supervisor The Role of 5-Methly Cytosine during Plant Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jing Zhao
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Don't Cry for Me: Evolutionary and Functional Analysis of Two Rice Pollen Allergens, Ory s 1 and Ory s 12 Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Deborah Devis
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Identification and Functional Characterization of Long Noncoding RNAs Involved in Endosperm Development of Arabidopsis thaliana Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Quang Trung Do
    2013 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Genome-wide Characterisation of microRNAs and their target genes in different durum wheat genotypes under water limiting conditions Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Haipei Liu
    2013 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Conservation and Function of RNA 5-methylcytosine in Plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Alice Louise Burgess
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  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2011 - ongoing Consulting Editor Frontiers in Genetics and Genomics
  • Offices Held

    Date Office Name Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Australian Epigenetic Alliance- South Australian Representative Australian Epigenetic Alliance (AEpiA) Australia
    2016 - 2017 Deputy Head of the Department of Genetics and Evolution School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide Australia
    2015 - ongoing GSA South Australian Representative on Executive Genetics Society of AustralAsia Australia
  • Position: Deputy Head of Genetics and Evolution
  • Phone: 83133266
  • Email: iain.searle@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4362
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Molecular Life Sciences, floor 2
  • Room: 2 31
  • Org Unit: Molecular and Biomedical Science

Connect With Me
External Profiles