Nicholas Collins

Dr Nicholas Collins

ARC Grant-Funded Res. B & Vis. Res. Fell.

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

My current research focus is the genetics and physiology of heat tolerance in wheat. I also have expertise in cereal tolerance to other abiotic stresses and resistance to viral and fungal diseases.

My background is in cereal molecular genetics, with a particular strength in positional cloning of genes for useful traits, to generate basic knowledge and breeding tools. After completing a PhD on barley yellow dwarf virus at the University of Adelaide, I worked on rust resistance at CSIRO and durable resistance to powdery mildew in the Sainsbury Laboratory UK.  In 2003, I moved back to Adelaide to join the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics where I have worked on tolerance to frost, salinity, boron toxicity, aluminium toxicity and heat.

I currently lead a research group working on heat tolerance in wheat within the University of Adelaide. The main focus is on the effects of the short heat waves that commonly occur during the sensitive reproductive developmental stages of the crop, in Southern Australia and many other parts of the world. These events cause failed grain set (floret sterility) when the heat occurs prior to head emergence, or reduced final grain size when the heat occurs at early grain filling.

We use growth chambers to apply heat treatments at particular developmental stages and combine these data with molecular marker information (such as DArTseq) to identify chromosome regions controlling variation for heat tolerance. This information is being used to develop molecular markers to enable breeders to more effectively select new heat tolerant varieties. We also conduct field trials in collaboration NSW-DPI, where late sowing is used to expose plots to late season heat stress. With my collaborators at NSW-DPI, we are also investigating the effects of heat on end-use quality traits relating to bread and pasta making.

Our work also aims to uncover basic knowledge of mechanisms of heat tolerance effects, by undertaking physiological, anatomical and ‘omics studies, in addition to positional cloning of the underlying heat tolerance genes.

Two heat tolerance assays in wheat targeting different effects on reproductive development
Two heat tolerance assays in wheat targeting different aspects of reproductive development


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2021 - ongoing Visiting Research Fellow (Titleholder) The University of Adelaide
    2016 - 2019 Research Fellow The University of Adelaide
    2004 - 2015 Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    1999 - 2003 Postdoctoral Scientist Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich
    1996 - 1999 Postdoctoral Scientist Plant Industry (CSIRO), Canberra
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1991 - 1995 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1990 - 1990 Monash University Australia Honours
    1987 - 1989 Monash University Australia Bachelor of Science
  • Research Interests

Date Project/ No. Investigators Title Funding Body
2011-2014 UA00123 Collins NC, Emebiri L, Parent B, Street K, Sissons M, Taylor H Identification of genetic variation for heat tolerance in durum and bread wheat GRDC
2015-2020 LP15010069 Baumann U, Haefele S, Collins N, Praud S

Exploring genetic diversity to identify new heat tolerance genes in wheat.

2015-2018 UA00147 Collins N, Emebiri L, Sissons M, Taylor J, Taylor H, Genetic analysis of heat tolerance in wheat GRDC
2016-2018 AISRF33760 Fleury D, Collins N, Baumann U, Haefele S Mining alleles for heat tolerance of wheat in Australian and Indian environments for development of heat resilient cultivars AISRF
2015-2020 IH130200027 Fleury D, Baumann U, Borysyuk N, Collins N, Haefele S, Kaiser B, Langridge P, Miklavcic S, Appelbee M-J, Juttner J, Kuchel H, Mullen D Genetic diversity and molecular breeding for wheat in a hot and dry climate ARC
2015-2018 56114781 Haefele S, Barrett-Lennard E, Collins N, Roy S, Heuer S, Nield J, Smart K, Cox A, Setter T Production trials to assess the differences between the biodiversity associated with the tolerance of wheat and barley GMOs Western Australian Agriculture Authority
Date Course Title Institution Course Level/ Code Contribution per year
2007-2012 Masters in Plant Genomics University of Adelaide 2710_PLANT_SC_7227WT one 2-hr lecture
2011 Masters in Molecular Diagnostics University of Adelaide PLANT_SC_7120WT one 2-hr lecture and ran one tutorial
2016 Foundations in Plant Science University of Adelaide   mentor to 5 students
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Genetic Mapping and Physiological Analysis of Heat Tolerance in Wheat Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Mohammed Mizanur Rahman
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Genetic and Physiological Bases of Heat-Induced Floret Sterility in Wheat Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Million Fikreselassie Erena
    2012 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Genetic and biological analysis of root lesion nematode (Pratylenchus thornei) resistance loci in wheat Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Shefat Rahman
    2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Genetic and physiological studies of heat tolerance in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Hamid Shirdelmoghanloo
    2011 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Physiological Traits and Genetic Controls Associated with Heat Adaptation of Bread Wheat Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Reyna Suzuky Pinto Gonzalez
    2010 - 2011 Co-Supervisor Genome sequence and variation in the Australian native Velvet tobacco mottle virus Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Kieren Arthur
    2005 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Dissection of Traits Relating to Flowering and Reproductive Frost Tolerance on Chromosome 2HL of Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Andrew Chen
    2004 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Toward Map-Based Cloning of a Na+ Exclusion Gene from Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Alireza Rivandi
    2004 - 2010 Co-Supervisor The Genetic Improvement of Wheat and Barley for Reproductive Frost Tolerance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Jason Reinheimer
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2012 - 2013 Member South Australian Barley Advisory Committee - -
    2011 - 2012 Member Australian Winter Cereals Pre-Breeders Alliance Steering Committee for Abiotic Stress - -
    2008 - 2010 Member School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Research Committee - -
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2015 - ongoing Associate Editor BMC Plant Biology - -
  • Position: ARC Grant-Funded Res. B & Vis. Res. Fell.
  • Email:
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Plant Research Centre, floor Level One
  • Room: 1.87
  • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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