Matthew Tucker

Associate Professor Matthew Tucker

Deputy Director, Waite Research Institute

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences

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

A/Prof Tucker is a plant scientist with research expertise in plant reproduction, seed development and cell wall biosynthesis. He received his PhD from the University of Adelaide and CSIRO Plant Industry in 2003, undertook postdoctoral research as an EMBO long-term fellow at the University of Freiburg in Germany and in 2011 joined the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls as a Senior Research Fellow. In 2015 he was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship and in 2017 was promoted to Associate Professor.

Research in his laboratory investigates how distinct plant cells and tissues are produced, with the aim of understanding how they can be engineered to optimise plant growth, yield and end-use. Current projects are focused on the characterisation of key pre- and post-fertilisation stages in the cereal monocot barley (Hordeum vulgare) that influence grain quality and yield.

His work has been published in journals including Nature Plants, Developmental Cell, PloS Genetics, Plant Cell and Development.

Our People


Dr Xiujuan Yang - Postdoctoral fellow

Chao Ma - Laboratory Manager

Ryan Edwards - Research Assistant

Dr Mia Lou - Research Assistant

Susan Johnson - Microscopist

Dayton Bird - PhD student

Simon Michelmore - PhD student

Juhiana Al-Jabiry - PhD student

Sara Pinto - PhD student (co-supervisor)

Reyhaneh Khaksefidi - PhD student (co-supervisor)

Ghazwan Karem - PhD student (co-supervisor)


Former Staff/Students

Old Lab

Jack Kelly - Getting ready for a PhD :-)

Brendan Kupke - Researcher at SARDI, AU

Danielle McBride - Insect lover

Dr Muhammad Kamran - Postdoctoral researcher at UWA, AU

Dr Kara Levin - Researcher at Uni Adelaide, AU

Dr Matthew Aubert - Lupin Breeder at AGT, AU

Dr Laura Wilkinson - Post-doctoral fellow at the John Innes Centre, UK

Dr Cindy Callens - Biobest Sustainable Crop Management, BE

Dr Caterina Selva - Researcher, Bulone Lab at Uni Adelaide

Dr Mia Lou - Writing papers

Dr Guillermo Garcia - Post-doctoral fellow at CSIRO Agriculture and Food, AU

Dr Sarah Moss - Post-doctoral fellow at Plant and Food Research, NZ

Dr Jana Phan - Early- and Mid-Career Researcher Policy Analyst, Australian Academy of Science, AU

Dr Sonia Bosca - Senior Researcher of Institute for Plant Molecular and Cell Biology, Valencia (IBMCP), ESP

Dr Annika Warnke (nee Hinze) - Project Coordinator, University Klinik, Freiburg, DE

Jessika Pan (Aditya) - R&D Manager at CV. Aditya Sentana Agro (Matahari Seed Group), Indonesia

Shi Fang Khor - Technical Officer, University of Adelaide, AU

Weng Leong - Professional smiler


Our projects


Grain Development


Cereal grains are an important dietary component that contribute benefits for human health and nutrition, and can also be utilised for industrial processes in the brewing, fibre and food industries. Within the cereal grain, different tissues such as the outer aleurone layer and inner starchy endosperm accumulate varying amounts of starch, dietary fibre and antioxidants. Genes controlling the balance between outer and inner identity might therefore be used to tailor the composition of cereal grains for specific end uses. We have been studying endosperm development in cereal species to understand the genetic basis for endosperm cell identity, with a specific focus on mechanisms that allow different cell types to communicate. This work is supported by the ARC and GRDC ( and involves international partners including the James Hutton Institute ( We also enjoy share a strong partnership with the State Breeding Institute at the University of Hohenheim ( relating to genetic analysis of complex traits in cereals.

Recent Papers:

Li, G., Kuijer, H.N.J., Yang, X. et al. MADS1 maintains barley spike morphology at high ambient temperatures. Nature Plants (2021).

Shirley, N.J., Aubert, M.K., Wilkinson, L.G., Bird, D.C., Lora, J, Yang, X and Tucker, M.R. ( 2019) Translating auxin responses into ovules, seeds and yield: Insight from Arabidopsis and the cereals. J Integr Plant Biol 61: 310– 336

Aubert, M.K., Coventry, S., Shirley, N.J., Betts, N.S., Würschum, T., Burton, R.A., and Tucker M.R. (2018). Differences in hydrolytic enzyme activity accompany natural variation in mature aleurone morphology in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Scientific Reports, 8:11025, DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-29068-4

Zhang R, Tucker MR, Burton RA, Shirley NJ, Little A, Morris J, Milne L, Houston K, Hedley PE, Waugh R, Fincher GB (2016) The dynamics of transcript abundance during cellularisation of developing barley endosperm. Plant Physiol. doi:10.1104/pp.15.01690.

Trafford K, Haleux P, Henderson M, Parker M, Shirley NJ, Tucker MR, Fincher GB, Burton RA (2013) Grain development in Brachypodium and other grasses: Interactions between cell expansion, starch deposition and cell wall synthesis. Journal of Experimental Botany, 64(16):5033-47.

Ovule Development


Plant reproduction delivers many fruits, seeds and grains that are a fundamental requirement of human society. Understanding how plants produce their gametes is therefore a key area of interest to ensure stable and improved yields in the future. We have been studying ovule development in Arabidopsis, barley and Hieracium to establish how female reproductive cells are specified. Communication between different ovule cells based on their position has long been hypothesised as a mechanism controlling reproductive cell identity, but is challenging to address due to the technical difficulties in accessing them in the ovule. With partners at CSIRO Agriculture (Dr Anna Koltunow), we have developed and utilised a method for Laser Assisted Microdissection (LAM) to capture these cells and characterise genes involved in ovule development. In parallel, large scale genetic screens have led to the identification of novel markers of reproductive cell development and the delineation of molecular pathways influencing reproductive cell fate. Work in this area is supported by the ARC (, as well as international partnerships with the SEXSEED consortium (, the MAD consortium, and the University of Freiburg (

Recent Papers:

Rojek J, Tucker MR, Pinto SC, Rychlowski M, Lichocka M, Soukupova H, Nowakowska J, Bohdanowicz J, Surmacz G, Gutkowska M (2021) Rab-dependent vesicular traffic affects female gametophyte development in Arabidopsis. J Exp Bot 72: 320-340. 10.1093/jxb/eraa430

Mendes MA, Petrella R, Cucinotta M, Vignati E, Gatti S, Pinto SC, Bird DC, Gregis V, Dickinson H, Tucker MR, Colombo L (2020) The RNA-dependent DNA methylation pathway is required to restrict SPOROCYTELESS/NOZZLE expression to specify a single female germ cell precursor in Arabidopsis. Development 147, 23.

Wilkinson, L. G., Yang, X., Burton, R. A., Wurschum, T. and Tucker, M. R.(2019). Natural Variation in Ovule Morphology Is Influenced by Multiple Tissues and Impacts Downstream Grain Development in Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Front Plant Sci 10: 1374.

Lora J, Yang X and Tucker M.R. (2019) Establishing a framework for female germline initiation in the plant ovule. Journal of Experimental Botany, 70(11): 2937–2949.

Pinto S.C., Mendes M.A., Coimbra S and Tucker M.R. (2019) Revisiting the Female Germline and Its Expanding Toolbox. Trends in Plant Science, 24(5): 455-467.

Juranic, M., Tucker, M.R., Schultz, C.J., Shirley, N.J., Taylor, J.M., Spriggs, A., Johnson, S.D., Bulone, V. and Koltunow A.M. (2018). Asexual female gametogenesis involves contact with a sexually-fated megaspore in apomictic Hieracium. Plant Physiology, 177(3):1027-1049.

Wilkinson, L. & Tucker, MR (2017). An optimised clearing protocol for the quantitative assessment of sub-epidermal ovule tissues within whole cereal pistils. Plant Methods.


Plant Cell Walls


Plant cells are surrounded by a complex wall consisting of polysaccharides, proteins, phenolic acids and water. The cell wall fulfils a crucial role in supporting plant growth and development and defending against pathogen invasion. In collaboration with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls ( we have been studying how different components of the wall are synthesised, how they influence reproductive development. We also collaborate with Prof Diane Mather ( to determine how cell walls interact with barley parasites such as the cereal cyst nematode, Heterodera avenae.

Recent Papers:

Dal Santo S, Tucker MR, Tan HT, Burbidge CA, Fasoli M, Bottcher C, Boss PK, Pezzotti M, Davies C (2020) Auxin treatment of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) berries delays ripening onset by inhibiting cell expansion. Plant Mol Biol 103: 91-111

Levin KA, Tucker MR, Strock CF, Lynch JP, Mather DE (2021) Three-dimensional imaging reveals that positions of cyst nematode feeding sites relative to xylem vessels differ between susceptible and resistant wheat. Plant Cell Rep 40: 393-403

Tucker M.R., Lou, H., Aubert, M.K., Wilkinson, L.G., Little, A., Houston, K., Pinto, S.C. and Shirley, N.J. (2018) Exploring the Role of Cell Wall-Related Genes and Polysaccharides during Plant Development. Plants 7 (2).

Wood, J. A., Tan, H. -T., Collins, H. M., Yap, K., Khor, S., Lim, W. L., Xing, X., Bulone, V., Burton, R.A., Fincher, G.B., and Tucker, M. R. (2018). Genetic and environmental factors contribute to variation in cell wall composition in mature desi chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) cotyledons. Plant, Cell & Environment. doi:10.1111/pce.13196

Tucker MR, Ma C, Phan J, Neumann K, Shirley NJ, Hahn MG, Cozzolino D, Burton RA (2017) Dissecting the genetic basis for seed coat mucilage heteroxylan biosynthesis in Plantago ovata using gamma irradiation and infrared spectroscopy. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8, 326-1-326-14. doi:10.3389/fpls.2017.00326


Shoot Meristem Development


ARGONAUTE proteins bind small RNA molecules to silence the transcription and translation of homologous target sequences. In Arabidopsis, several AGOs contribute to development of the embryonic shoot meristem. Using a combination of genetic screens and natural mutants, we are studying the broader network of AGO-dependent genes controlling embryonic meristem development to determine how these might be tailored to improve plant growth under adverse conditions.

Recent Papers:

Du F, Gong W, Bosca S, Tucker MR, Vaucheret H, Laux T (2020) Dose-Dependent AGO1-Mediated Inhibition of the miRNA165/166 Pathway Modulates Stem Cell Maintenance in Arabidopsis Shoot Apical Meristem. Plant Commun 1: 100002

Tucker MR, Roodbarkelari F, Truernit E, Adamski NM, Hinze A, Lohmueller B, Würschum T, Laux T (2013) Accession-specific modifiers act with ZWILLE/ARGONAUTE10 to maintain shoot meristem stem cells during embryogenesis in Arabidopsis. BMC Genomics, 14:809.

Knauer S, Holt AL, Rubio-Somoza I, Tucker EJ, Hinze A, Pisch M, Javelle M, Timmermans MC, Tucker MR, Laux T (2013). A protodermal miR394 signal defines a region of stem cell competence in the Arabidopsis shoot meristem. Developmental Cell, 24(2), 125-132.

M.R Tucker, K. Porker, R. Schilling, D. Plett. Revealing the basis for head-loss in barley, 2021-2022, SAGIT
M.R Tucker and L.Colombo, Deciphering tissue-specific components of cereal grain development, 2021-2024, ARC DP21
M.R Tucker, K. Porker. Determining the impact of environment and genotype on barley grain features for the malt and animal feed industries, 2020-2021, YITPI
M.R Tucker, K. Porker, M. Arjomandi, V. Bulone. Revealing the basis for head-loss in barley, 2019-2021, SAGIT
S Gillmor, S de Folter, F Pupilli, S Pessino, JP Ortiz, L Siena, L Delgado, V Echenique, D Zappacosta, F Espinoza, C Acuna, O Leblanc, D Autran, C Michaud, M Lejbowicz, C Fréour, M Caccamo, M Tucker, L Colombo, M Miranda, E Albertini, U Grossniklaus, C Baroux, H Schöb. "MAD" - Mechanisms of Apomictic Development, 2021-2025, EU H2020-MSCARISE
M.R Tucker and T.Laux, Activating the female germline during plant development, 2018-2021, ARC DP18  
D.E. Mather, J.F. Thompson, K.J. Chalmers, T.J. Sutton, M.R. Tucker, J.D. Taylor, K.H.P. Khoo, Protecting Your Crop: Development of tools to accelerate Nematode resistance gene deployment, GRDC, 2015-2020
M.R. Tucker, Defining pathways that establish and maintain reproductive cell identity in plant ovules and seeds, 2014-2018, ARC Future Fellowship
S. Coimbra, L. Colombo, C. Spillane, E. Albertini, M. Tucker, B. Franks, B. Jones, R. Palanivelu, “SEXSEED” - Sexual Plant Reproduction – Seed formation, EU H2020-MSCARISE-2015-2020
M. Tucker, T. Laux, Y. Xu, J.G. Schwerdt, Genetic control of germline initiation in flowering plants, Universities Australia - DAAD - Australia Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme. 2016-2018





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

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Principal Supervisor Molecular components of grain fill and quality in cereals Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Juhiana Abdul Abbass Hantush Al-Jabiry
    2020 Principal Supervisor Molecular and phenotypic characterisation of synthetic auxin
    herbicide-tolerant pulse germplasm
    Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Simon Frederick Michelmore
    2018 Principal Supervisor Female Germline Formation During Plant Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Dayton Christopher Bird
    2018 Co-Supervisor Identification of barley mutants and characterisation of their (1,3;1,4)-ß-glucan Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ghazwan Majid Karem
    2018 Co-Supervisor Genome-wide analysis of small-RNA and key regulators identification during barley inflorescence development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Reyhaneh Ebrahimi Khaksefidi
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Role of Cellulose Synthase-Like (Csl) Genes in Barley Root Growth and Differentiation Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Dr Haoyu Lou
    2016 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Understanding Flower Development in Barley (Hordeum Vulgare) through Characterisation of Multiovary Mov Mutants and Their Potential Use in Hybrid Breeding Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Caterina Selva
    2016 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Genetic and Cytological Analysis of Host Root Responses to Cyst Nematode Infection in Wheat Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Kara Ann Levin
    2016 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Analysis of MADS-box genes and heat stress in barley (Hordeum vulgare) reproductive development Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Miss Cindy Callens
    2015 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Molecular and Genetic Characterisation of Early Aleurone Development in Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew Kevern Aubert
    2015 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Molecular and Genetic Cues Influencing Ovule Development in Barley (Hordeum vulgare) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Laura Gay Wilkinson
    2013 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Using Plantago ovata as a proxy to study plant cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Jana Le-Lam-Thuy Phan
    2012 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Characterisation of the Auxin Signalling Pathway in Vitis vinifera L. cv. Shiraz Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Sarah Margaret Ann Moss
  • Position: Deputy Director, Waite Research Institute
  • Phone: 83139241
  • Email:
  • Fax: 8313 7102
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Wine Innovation Central, floor G
  • Room: G 21
  • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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