Matthew Gilliham

Professor Matthew Gilliham

Deputy Head of School - Research

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences

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

Matt is a program 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, recent Honorary Secretary of the Australian Society for Plant Scientists, convenor for the Adapting to abiotic stress and climate change special interest group of the Society for Experimental Biology and Chief Investigator on the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production.

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, he immigrated to Australia to run the Plant Transport and Signalling Laboratory at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide, in 2006.

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. Where applicable, 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 could 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 ARC Future Fellowships, ARC DECRA Fellowships, ASPB Highly Cited Author, SA Tall Poppy Awards, the Australian Society for Plant Scientists Goldacre Award, and the 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

or, ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production website

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.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 Director, Waite Research Institute Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide
    2018 Group Convenor Society for Experimental Biology
    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 - 2017 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 Country Amount
    2017 Research Award Executive Dean of Sciences Research Excellence Award University of Adelaide Australia
    2014 Fellowship ARC Future Fellowship University of Adelaide Australia
    2013 Award Science and Innovation Award ABRES (Australian Federal Government) Australia
    2012 Award South Australian Tall Poppy Australian Institute of Policy and Science Australia
    2012 Award Group of Eight China-Australia Fellowship Australia
  • Education

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

Current and Recent 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; 

Australian National Data Service (2017-2018) AGRICONNECT - linking Australian Agricultural Databases

GRDC Infrastructure Grant - Enhancing the growth infrastructure at the Waite Campus (2017-2018)

ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Innovative Wine Production (2018-2023)

AgRDC (NCRIS) Enhancing high value datasets in Agriculture (2018-2019)

GRDC Infrastructure Grant - CT Scanner for high throughput shoot and root phenotyping (2018-2019)



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

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

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 Co-Supervisor Investigating The Effect of Ion Transport in Plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Daniel Walter McKay
    2018 Co-Supervisor Understanding Root Responses of Cereals Conferring Tolerance to Alkaline Sodic Soils Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jakob Schulz
    2018 Principal Supervisor The Role of GABA in Controlling Plant Gas Exchange During Stress Events Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Adriane Piechatzek
    2018 Principal Supervisor Understanding the Limits of Grapevine Water Stress and Recovery Therefrom Based On Xylem Cavitation Resistance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Ying Meng
    2018 Principal Supervisor Molecular Genetic Control on Grapevine Bud Fruitfulness Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Xiaoyi Wang
    2017 Principal Supervisor GABA Signalling in Cereals Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Na Sai
    2016 Principal Supervisor GABA Signaling in Plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Xueying Feng
    2015 Principal Supervisor Salinity Tolerance in Grapevine Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Yue Wu
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2014 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Functional Characterisation of GmSALT3, a Candidate Gene for Conferring Salt Tolerance in Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Yue Qu
    2014 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Defining Transcriptional Networks Associated with Plant Salinity Tolerance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Shanika Lakmini Amarasinghe
    2013 - 2018 Co-Supervisor The Role of Aquaporins in Plant Responses to Drought Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Johannes Daniel Scharwies
    2013 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Investigating factors that affect grapevine fruit set during abiotic stress Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Dr Satwinder Kaur
    2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Investigation of chloride transport mechanisms in Arabidopsis thaliana root Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Jiaen Qiu
    2010 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Characterisation of a novel calcium sensor in Arabidopsis thaliana Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Bo Xu
    2010 - 2013 Co-Supervisor POT Proteins are Important for Chloride Transport in Arabidopsis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Bo Li
    2010 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Grapevine Reproductive Performance: The Role of Amines, and the Effect of Salt and Silicon Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Tintu Baby
    2010 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Investigating genes encoding membrane proteins in grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) and Vitis spp. rootstocks to determine their role in chloride exclusion Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Sam Henderson
    2010 - 2015 Principal Supervisor The Role of Calcium in the Cell Wall of Grape Berries Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Brad Hocking
  • Position: Deputy Head of School - Research
  • Phone: 83138145
  • Email:
  • Fax: 8313 0431
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Plant Research Centre, floor 2
  • Room: 2 24
  • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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