School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
A/Prof Tucker is a plant biologist with research expertise in plant reproduction, shoot growth and seed development. He received his PhD from the University of Adelaide and CSIRO Plant Industry, undertook postdoctoral research as an EMBO fellow at the University of Freiburg in Germany, and subsequently joined the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls as a Senior Research Fellow. In 2015 he was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship at the University of Adelaide.
Research in his laboratory investigates pathways influencing crop yield and quality, with the aim of understanding how these can be engineered using traditional breeding, gene editing, and genetic modification. Recent projects have focussed on cereal inflorescence, flower and grain development.
He has been generously supported through grants from the ARC, SAGIT, GRDC, ARDC, EMBO, and EU, and has published over 80 research articles in scientific journals including Nature Plants, PNAS, Developmental Cell, PloS Genetics, New Phytologist, and Development.
He currently maintains several institutional roles at the University of Adelaide, including Deputy Director of the Waite Research Institute, Chair of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, and Chief Investigator on the ARC Training Centre for Future Crops Development. He contributes regularly to academia and industry via advisory committees, media engagements, international and national symposia, and international early career researcher training networks.
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
Dr Xiujuan Yang - Postdoctoral fellow
Chao Ma - Laboratory Manager
Dr Ghazwan Karem - Technician
Dr Rosanna Petrella - Visiting post-doctoral researcher
Nicola Babolin - Visiting PhD student
Simon Michelmore - PhD student
Juhiana Al-Jabiry - PhD student
Dominic Lyford - PhD student
Ling Xu - PhD student
Hien Minh (Jean) Vu - PhD student
Reyhaneh Khaksefidi - PhD student
Jack Kelly - PhD student
Ryan Edwards - PhD student (co-supervisor)
Yuanlin Qi - PhD student (co-supervisor)
Guilherme (Yoshi) Pedro Silva - PhD student (co-supervisor)
Dr Sara Pinto - Post doctoral researcher, JIC
Dr Mia Lou - Researcher, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, AU
Dr Dayton Bird - DAFF, AU
Dr Muhammad Kamran - Postdoctoral researcher at UWA, AU
Dr Kara Levin - Repromed, AU
Dr Matthew Aubert - Lupin Breeder at AGT, AU
Dr Laura Wilkinson - AGT Research Fellow at Uni Adelaide, AU
Dr Cindy Callens - Biobest Sustainable Crop Management, BE
Dr Caterina Selva - Researcher, Bulone Lab at Uni Adelaide
Dr Guillermo Garcia - Post-doctoral fellow at La Trobe University, AU
Dr Sarah Moss - Post-doctoral fellow at Plant and Food Research, NZ
Dr Jana Phan - CropLife, 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
Andrew Gilmore - CSIRO Cotton Breeding, NSW
Brendan Kupke - Researcher at SARDI, AU
Danielle McBride - Biosecurity SA, AU
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 - Casual technician at Uni Adelaide, AU
Grain Development and Cereal Yield
The number and quality of seeds produced by crop plants has a significant impact on end use and crop value. 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, protein, 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 grain formation in cereal species to understand the genetic basis for differences in cell identity. This work is supported by the ARC and GRDC (https://grdc.com.au/) and involves international partners including the James Hutton Institute in Scotland and the University of Milan in Italy. 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.
Selva, C., Yang, X., Shirley, N.J., Whitford, R., Baumann, U., Tucker, M.R. (2023) HvSL1 and HvMADS16 promote stamen identity to restrict multiple ovary formation in barley. Journal of Experimental Botany erad218.
Li, G., Kuijer, H.N., Yang, X., Liu, H., Shen, C., Shi, J., Betts, N., Tucker, M.R., Liang, W., Waugh, R., Burton, R.A. and Zhang D. (2021). MADS1 maintains barley spike morphology at high ambient temperatures. Nature Plants 7, 1093-1107.
Shoesmith, J.R., Solomon, C.U., Yang, X., Wilkinson, L.G., Sheldrick, S., van Eijden, E., Couwenberg, S., Pugh, L.M., Eskan, M., Stephens, J., Barakate, A., Drea, S., Houston, K., Tucker, M.R and McKim, S.M. (2021). APETALA2 functions as a temporal factor together with BLADE-ON-PETIOLE2 and MADS29 to control flower and grain development in barley. Development 148, dev194894.
Selva, C., Shirley, N.J., Houston, K., Whitford, R., Baumann, U., Li, G., and Tucker, M.R. (2021). HvLEAFY controls the early stages of floral organ specification and inhibits the formation of multiple ovaries in barley. The Plant Journal. doi: 10.1111/tpj.15457
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 https://doi.org/10.1111/jipb.12747
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 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-29068-4
Plant reproduction delivers 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. We have utilised 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 (http://www.arc.gov.au/), as well as international partnerships with the SEXSEED consortium (http://www.fc.up.pt/sexseed/), the MAD consortium (https://www.facebook.com/MAD_project-106849094787913/), and the University of Freiburg (http://www.biologie.uni-freiburg.de/LauxLab)
Yang, X., Wilkinson, L.G., Aubert, M.K., Houston, K., Shirley, N.J., Tucker, M.R. (2023) Ovule cell wall composition is a maternal determinant of grain size in barley. New Phytologist 237 (6), 2136-2147
Yang, X., and Tucker, M.R. (2021). Establishing a regulatory blueprint for ovule number and function during plant development. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 63, 102095.
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. https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.194274
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. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erz212
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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2019.02.003.
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 (http://www.plantcellwalls.org.au/) we have been studying how different components of the wall are synthesised, how they influence reproductive development. We also collaborate with Prof Diane Mather (https://researchers.adelaide.edu.au/profile/diane.mather) to determine how cell walls interact with barley parasites such as the cereal cyst nematode, Heterodera avenae.
Lou H, Tucker MR, Shirley NJ, Lahnstein J, Yang X, Ma C, Schwerdt J, Fusi R, Burton RA, Band LR, Bennett MJ, Bulone V (2022) The cellulose synthase-like F3 (CslF3) gene mediates cell wall polysaccharide synthesis and affects root growth and differentiation in barley. The Plant Journal 110(6):1-19
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:
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:
Date Position Institution name 2015 - ongoing ARC Future Fellow University of Adelaide
Language Competency German Can read and understand spoken
Date Institution name Country Title 2003 University of Adelaide Australia PhD 1998 Flinders University Australia Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours)
Year Citation - Koltunow, A. M., Vivian‐Smith, A., Tucker, M. R., & Paech, N. (n.d.). The Central Role of the Ovule in Apomixis and Parthenocarpy. In Unknown Book (pp. 234-270). Wiley.
Year Citation 2011 Tucker, M., & Koltunow, A. (2011). Advances in apomixis research: can we fix heterosis?. In I. K. Vasil (Ed.), PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY 2002 AND BEYOND (pp. 619 pages). ORLANDO, FL: Springer.
Year Citation 2018 Selva, C., Tucker, M. R., Baumann, U., & Whitford, R. (2018). Floral development in barley: characterization of multiovary mutants. Poster session presented at the meeting of International Congress on Sexual Plant Reproduction. Japan. 2017 Selva, C., Tucker, M. R., Baumann, U., & Whitford, R. (2017). The benefits of sterility: characterizing multiovary mutants for hybrid seed production. Poster session presented at the meeting of Combined biosciences - ComBio. Australia.
|ARC Centre of Excellence. 2023-2030. Gilliham et al. Plants for Space.|
|ARC Linkage Project. 2022-2026. Tucker, Zhang, Bogard, Coram. Breeder-ready genetic tools for sustaining wheat yields under heat stress.|
|ARC Training Centre for Future Crops Development. 2021-2026. Pogson, Byrt, Roy, Millar, Ankeny, Whitney, Leach, Schwessinger, Mathesius, Atkin, Furbank, Mortimer, Tucker, Plewa, Gilliham, Zhang.|
|SAGIT investment, UAD 03223. 2023-2025. Tucker, Schilling. Screening for genetic components of head-retention in barley|
|ARC Discovery Project. 2021-2024. Tucker, Colombo. Decoding tissue-specific components of cereal grain development.|
|GRDC investment. 2023-2025. Berger, Chalmers, Tucker. Expanding the capacity and capability of the OzBarley G2P Platform|
|ARC LIEF. 2023-2024. Roy et al., A multi-environment phenotyping site for biotech plants.|
|EU H2020-MSCARISE. 2021-2025. Gillmor, de Folter, Pupilli, Pessino, Ortiz, Siena, Delgado, Echenique, Zappacosta, Espinoza, Acuna, Leblanc, Autran, Michaud, Lejbowicz, Fréour, Caccamo, Tucker, Colombo, Miranda, Albertini, Grossniklaus, Baroux, Schöb. "MAD" - Mechanisms of Apomictic Development.|
|SAGIT investment, UA721. 2021-2022. Tucker, Porker, Schilling, Plett. Revealing the basis for head-loss in barley.|
|SAGIT investment, UA619. 2019-2021 Tucker, Porker, Arjomandi, Bulone. Revealing the basis for head-loss in barley.|
|YITPI grant. 2020-2021. Tucker, Porker. Determining the impact of environment and genotype on barley grain features for the malt and animal feed industries.|
|ARC Discovery Project. 2018-2021. Tucker and Laux, Activating the female germline during plant development, 2018-2021.|
|GRDC investment. 2015-2020. Mather, Thompson, Chalmers, Sutton, Tucker, Taylor, Khoo. Protecting Your Crop: Development of tools to accelerate Nematode resistance gene deployment.|
|ARC Future Fellowship. 2014-2018. Tucker, Defining pathways that establish and maintain reproductive cell identity in plant ovules and seeds.|
|EU H2020-MSCARISE. 2015-2020. Coimbra, Colombo, Spillane, Albertini, Tucker, Franks, Jones, Palanivelu, “SEXSEED” - Sexual Plant Reproduction – Seed formation.|
|DAAD - Universities Australia. 2016-2018. Tucker, Laux, Xu, Schwerdt, Genetic control of germline initiation in flowering plants.|
PLANT DEVELOPMENTAL GENETICS: 103561, GENE EXPRESSION AND HUMAN & DEVELOPMENTAL GENETICS, (GENETICS 3211)
FOUNDATIONS IN PLANT SCIENCE II: 3910_PLANT_SC_2510WT
PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY III: 4020_PLANT_SC_3515WT
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2023 Principal Supervisor Dissecting the MADS-box interactome during barley ovule and seed development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Ling Xu 2023 Principal Supervisor MADS-box gene function and conservation in barley and arabidopsis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Dominic James Lyford 2023 Co-Supervisor Efficient genotype-independent transformation method to enhance gene editing in cereals Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Benjamin Suleman Kurya 2022 Co-Supervisor Enhancing the nutritional quality of duckweed, a novel crop for Space and Closed Environmental Agriculture Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ryan Andre Edwards 2022 Co-Supervisor Harnessing hormonal signalling pathways to improve plant architecture and growth response. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jack Henry Kelly 2022 Co-Supervisor Resistance to Auxinic Herbicides in Wild Radish Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Yuanlin Qi 2022 Co-Supervisor Investigating the genetic control of inflorescence development in wheat Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Guilherme Pedro Ventura Yoshicawa Simoes Silva 2022 Principal Supervisor Agronomic and quality impacts of alternative dwarfing genes in barley Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Hien Minh Vu 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 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 2018 - 2022 Co-Supervisor Identification of barley mutants and characterisation of their mixed-linkage (1,3;1,4)-ß-glucan (MLG) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ghazwan Majid Fattoohi Karem 2018 - 2023 Principal Supervisor Female Germline Formation During Plant Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Dayton Christopher Bird 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
Date Role Committee Institution Country 2015 - ongoing Representative Australian Society of Plant Scientists Australian Society of Plant Scientists Australia 2015 - ongoing Representative Institutional Biosafety Commitee University of Adelaide Australia
Date Role Membership Country 2012 - ongoing Member Australian Society of Plant Scientists Australia 2012 - ongoing Member International Association for Sexual Plant Reproduction Research -
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