Dr Ryan Whitford

Ryan Whitford
Hybrid Wheat Program Leader
School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Faculty of Sciences

Ryan is a plant molecular biologist who's research interests are in floral developmental biology and the underlying molecular mechanisms behind plant responses to abiotic stress. He has previously worked on projects ranging from meiosis to extracellular peptide-based signalling in Arabidopsis and cereals. Ryan completed his PhD at the Co-operative Research Centre for Molecular Plant Breeding at the University of Adelaide, after which he worked as a Molecular Biologist for Bayer Cropscience GmbH (Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany) before a postdoctoral period within the Flemish Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (Ghent University, Belgium). He is now leading the hybrid wheat program at the Australian Centre of Plant Functional Genomics (Adelaide, South Australia).

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Dr Ryan Whitford

Ryan is a plant molecular biologist who's research interests are in floral developmental biology and the underlying molecular mechanisms behind plant responses to abiotic stress. He has previously worked on projects ranging from meiosis to extracellular peptide-based signalling in Arabidopsis and cereals. Ryan completed his PhD at the Co-operative Research Centre for Molecular Plant Breeding at the University of Adelaide, after which he worked as a Molecular Biologist for Bayer Cropscience GmbH (Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany) before a postdoctoral period within the Flemish Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (Ghent University, Belgium). He is now leading the hybrid wheat program at the Australian Centre of Plant Functional Genomics (Adelaide, South Australia).

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

SEMThe FAO predicts that major improvements in wheat yields will be critical to ensuring global food security (FAO, 2013). Over the past decade, wheat yield improvements from conventional crop breeding has tapered off. This stands in contrast to the situation in rice and maize where yield improvements have continued unabated. Several reasons have been proposed for this difference between maize and wheat:

  1. increased private sector investment in maize research
  2. early adoption and implementation of GM technologies
  3. increased opportunities provided by hybrid breeding.

Hybrid wheats hold the potential to increase yields and will open a range of new breeding opportunities. Although capturing heterosis in wheat has historically been intractable, a recent experimental survey of European winter wheat combining ability indicates yield gains of 10% can be achieved (HYWHEAT consortium, Longin et al., 2013). Commercial exploitation of this heterotic yield gain is likely to be difficult due to wheat’s strong inbreeding nature, a factor primarily governed by floral development and architecture, and the lack of a cost-effective and practicable fertility control system (Whitford et al., 2013). The aim of ACPFG’s Hybrid Wheat Research team is to reduce hybrid seed production costs by

  1. Developing a robust male sterility and restoration system, and
  2. Improving wheat’s floral characteristics for out-crossing

 

SectionProject Title: Developing a fertility restoration system for hybrid wheat seed production

Project Partner: DuPont-Pioneer

The fertility control team is responsible for identifying novel gene sequences necessary for wheat fertility. The program exploits mutant resources by next generation sequencing and the latest bioinformatic analyses in a forward genetics approach towards gene identification. Reverse genetics techniques including mutant complementation and genome editing (CRISPR/cas9) are used to validate which fine-mapped gene sequences are necessary for ensuring fertility. Fertility genes and their encoded proteins are typically characterised at the transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomics levels relative to their specific roles in reproductive development.

Techniques 

  • Positional cloning
  • Molecular markers
  • Genotyping by Sequencing (GbS)
  • Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS)
  • RNAseq/qRT-PCR
  • Quantitative PCRFloral architecture for members of the Triticeae
  • Cloning/Vector construction
  • GC-MS-based metabolite profiling
  • Light and confocal microscopy
  • SEM, TEM
  • Phenotypic analyses on floral and reproductive development
  • Glasshouse and field work
  • Biolistic and Agrobacterium mediated transformation
  • Genome editing

References

  • FAOSTAT (2013) http://faostat3.fao.org/home/index.html
  • Longin CFH, Gowda M, Mühleisen J, Ebmeyer E, Kazman E, Schachschnieder R, Schacht J, Kirchhoff M, Zhao Y, Reif JC.(2013) Hybrid wheat: quantitative genetic parameters and consequences for the design of breeding programs. Theoretical and Applied Genetics doi 10.1007/s00122-013-2177-z.
  • Whitford, R., Fleury, D., Reif, J.C., Garcia, M., Okada, T., Korzun, V., and Langridge, P. (2013) Hybrid breeding in wheat: technologies to improve hybrid wheat seed production. Journal of Experimental Botany (Darwin Review) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ert333.

Appointments

Date Position Institution name
2008 Research Scientist Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics
2002 - 2003 Molecular Biologist Bayer Cropscience

Awards and Achievements

Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
2015 Award Adelaide University Emerging Industry Research Partnership Award University of Adelaide Australia
2001 Nomination Young Australian of the Year in the Science and Technology Australia
1998 Award National Farmers Federation Prize University of Western Australia Australia
1997 Award Eva Sobotka Memorial Prize University of Western Australia Australia
1997 Award Henry (Senior) Seeligson Memorial Prize University of Western Australia Australia

Language Competencies

Language Competency
Dutch; Flemish Can read, speak and understand spoken

Education

Date Institution name Country Title
1994 - 1997 University of Western Australia Australia Bachelor of Science Honours (1A)

Postgraduate Training

Date Title Institution Country
1998 - 2002 PhD University of Adelaide Australia
Postdoctoral Fellow Ghent University Belgium

Research Interests

Journals

Year Citation
2018 Okada, T., Jayasinghe, R., Nansamba, M., Baes, M., Warner, P., Kouidri, A., . . . Baumann, U. (2018). Unfertilized ovary pushes wheat flower open for cross-pollination. Journal of Experimental Botany, 69(3), 399-412.
DOI
2017 Ferdous, J., Whitford, R., Nguyen, M., Brien, C., Langridge, P., & Tricker, P. (2017). Drought-inducible expression of Hv-miR827 enhances drought tolerance in transgenic barley. Functional and Integrative Genomics, 17(2-3), 279-292.
DOI Scopus3 WoS4 Europe PMC2
2017 Tucker, E., Baumann, U., Kouidri, A., Suchecki, R., Baes, M., Garcia, M., . . . Whitford, R. (2017). Molecular identification of the wheat male fertility gene Ms1 and its prospects for hybrid breeding. Nature Communications, 8(1), 869-1-869-10.
DOI
2015 Nagahatenna, D., Langridge, P., & Whitford, R. (2015). Tetrapyrrole-based drought stress signalling. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 13(4), 447-459.
DOI Scopus17 WoS13 Europe PMC8
2013 Whitford, R., Fleury, D., Reif, J., Garcia, M., Okada, T., Korzun, V., & Langridge, P. (2013). Hybrid breeding in wheat: technologies to improve hybrid wheat seed production. Journal of Experimental Botany, 64(18), 5411-5428.
DOI Scopus42 WoS40 Europe PMC25
2012 Whitford, R., Fernandez, A., Tejos, R., Perez, A., Kleine-Vehn, J., Vanneste, S., . . . Hilson, P. (2012). GOLVEN secretory peptides regulate auxin carrier turnover during plant gravitropic responses. Developmental Cell, 22(3), 678-685.
DOI Scopus78 WoS72 Europe PMC53
2010 Mortier, V., Den Herder, G., Whitford, R., Van de Velde, W., Rombauts, S., D'haeseleer, K., . . . Goormachtig, S. (2010). CLE peptides control medicago truncatula nodulation locally and systemically. Plant Physiology, 153(1), 222-237.
DOI Scopus125 WoS120 Europe PMC88
2008 Whitford, R., Fernandez, A., De Groodt, R., Ortega, E., & Hilson, P. (2008). Plant CLE peptides from two distinct functional classes synergistically induce division of vascular cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(47), 18625-18630.
DOI Scopus99 WoS96 Europe PMC73
2007 Whitford, R., Baumann, U., Sutton, T., Gumaelius, L., Wolters, P., Tingey, S., . . . Langridge, P. (2007). Identification of transposons, retroelements, and a gene family predominantly expressed in floral tissues in chromosome 3DS of the hexaploid wheat progenitor Aegilops tauschii. Functional & Integrative Genomics, 7(1), 37-52.
DOI Scopus7 WoS7 Europe PMC4
2006 Underwood, B., Vanderhaeghen, R., Whitford, R., Town, C., & Hilson, P. (2006). Simultaneous high-throughput recombinational cloning of open reading frames in closed and open configurations. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 4(3), 317-324.
DOI Scopus13 WoS13 Europe PMC8
2005 Dong, C., Thomas, S., Becker, D., Lorz, H., Whitford, R., Sutton, T., . . . Langridge, P. (2005). WM5: Isolation and characterisation of a gene expressed during early meiosis and shoot meristem development in wheat. Functional Plant Biology, 32(3), 249-258.
DOI Scopus6 WoS5
2003 Sutton, T., Whitford, R., Baumann, U., Dong, C., Able, J., & Langridge, P. (2003). The Ph2 pairing homoeologous locus of wheat (Triticum aestivum): identification of candidate meiotic genes using a comparative genetics approach. Plant Journal, 36(4), 443-456.
DOI Scopus45 WoS35 Europe PMC26
2002 Dong, C., Whitford, R., & Langridge, P. (2002). A DNA mismatch repair gene links to the Ph2 locus in wheat. Genome, 45(1), 116-124.
DOI Scopus31 WoS30 Europe PMC20

Books

Book Chapters

Year Citation
2017 Okada, T., & Whitford, R. (2017). Hybrid Wheat and Abiotic Stress. In V. R. Rajpal, D. Sehgal, A. Kumar, & S. N. Raina (Eds.), Abiotic Stress Tolerance related Genomics-assisted Breeding for Crop Improvement.
2010 Whitford, R., Gilbert, M., & Langridge, P. (2010). Biotechnology in Agriculture. In M. Reynolds (Ed.), Climate Change and Crop Production (pp. 219-244). United Kingdom: CABI Publishing.
Scopus8

Conference Papers

Year Citation
2013 Anbalagan, R., Kovalchuk, N., Parent, B., Kovalchuk, A., Okamoto, M., Whitford, R., & Haefele, S. M. (2013). A phenotyping platform for transgenic wheat: method and initial results. In J. Piantadosi, R. Anderssen, & J. Boland (Eds.), 20TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON MODELLING AND SIMULATION (MODSIM2013) (pp. 496-502). Adelaide, AUSTRALIA: MODELLING & SIMULATION SOC AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND INC.
WoS1
2004 Sutton, T., Whitford, R., Baumann, U., Able, J., Lazo, G., & Langridge, P. (2004). Genomics approaches to identify meiotic genes in wheat. In Plant & Animal Genome XII : conference abstracts (pp. W143). San Diego, CA.

Conference Items

Year Citation
2014 Whitford, R., Nagahatenna, D., & Langridge, P. (2014). Overexpression of type I Ferrochelatase (FCI) enhances wilting avoidance in barley (Hordeum vulgare). Poster session presented at the meeting of International Association for Plant Biotechnology Congress 2014. Melbourne, Australia: http://www.iapb2014congress.com/.
2013 Tucker, E., Okada, T., Warner, P., Manning, S., Baes, M., Kouidri, A., . . . Whitford, R. (2013). Towards the development of a fertility control system for hybrid wheat breeding. Poster session presented at the meeting of Wheat Breeders Assembly. Brisbane, Australia: http://wheatbreedingassembly.com.au/.
2009 Whitford, R., Fernandez, A., Cuellar, A., Kleine-Vehn, J., De Groodt, R., Vanneste, S., . . . Hilson, P. (2009). Local action of GOLVEN secretory peptides stabilizes an auxin efflux carrier during plant gravitropic responses. Poster session presented at the meeting of 20th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research. Edinburgh, Scotland.
2008 Mortier, V., Den Herder, G., Van de Velde, W., Whitford, R., Holsters, M., & Goormachtig, S. (2008). CLE peptide signaling during nodulation on Medicago truncatula. Poster session presented at the meeting of 8th European Nitrogen Fixation Conference. Gent, Belgium.
2008 Whitford, R., Fernandez, A., Kleine-Vehn, J., De Groodt, R., Vanneste, S., Beeckman, T., . . . Hilson, P. (2008). GOLVEN secretory peptides control plant gravitropism. Poster session presented at the meeting of 19th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research. Montreal, Canada.
2008 Mortier, V., Den Herder, G., Van de Velde, W., Whitford, R., Holsters, M., & Goormachtig, S. (2008). CLE peptide signaling during nodulation on Medicago truncatula. Poster session presented at the meeting of 4th EPSO Conference. Toulon (Côte d’Azur), France.
2006 Underwood, B. A., Xiao, Y. -L., Wu, H. C., Moskal, W. A., Wang, W., Monaghan, E. L., . . . Town, C. D. (2006). High throughput full-length cDNA cloning of low-expressing genes in Arabidopsis. Poster session presented at the meeting of Plant Biology 2006. Boston, Massachusetts, USA: http://abstracts.aspb.org/.

Patents

Year Citation
2016 Whitford, R. (2016). WO/2016/048891, Wheat Ms1 polynucleotides, polypeptides and methods of use. United States of America.
2016 Whitford, R., Baumann, U., Tucker, E., Cigan, M., & Albertsen, M. C. (2016). WO/2016/048891, Wheat Ms1 Polynucleotides, Polypeptides, and Methods of Use. United States of America.
2016 Whitford, R., Baumann, U., Tucker, E., Cigan, M., & Albertsen, M. C. (2016). WO/2016/048891, Wheat Ms1 Polynucleotides, Polypeptides, and Methods of Use. United States of America.
2014 Whitford, R., & Nagahatenna, D. (2014). US 62/059069, Ferrochelatase compositions and methods to increase agronomic performance of plants. United States of America.
2014 Whitford, R., & Nagahatenna, D. (2014). US 62/059069, Ferrochelatase compositions and methods to increase agronomic performance of plants. United States of America.
2005 Bastiaans, H., Donn, G., Knittel, N., Martelletti, A., Rees, R., Schwall, M., & Whitford, R. (2005). International Application No.: PCT/EP2004/014262, Plant growth regulation (2,4-diamino-5-substituted-thiazole derivatives as phytoregulators).
2005 Bastiaans, H., Donn, G., Knittel, N., Martelletti, A., Rees, R., Schwall, M., & Whitford, R. (2005). WO/2005/107466, “PLANT GROWTH REGULATION - indolinone derivatives as phytoregulators”.
2005 Bastiaans, H., Donn, G., Knittel, N., Martelletti, A., Rees, R., Schwall, M., & Whitford, R. (2005). WO/2005/107471, "PLANT GROWTH REGULATION - azepinone derivative as phytoregulators".
2005 Bastiaans, H., Donn, G., Knittel, N., Martelletti, A., Rees, R., Schwall, M., & Whitford, R. (2005). WO/2005/107472, "PLANT GROWTH REGULATION - Substituierte 2-amino-6-oxy-purine as phytoregulators".
2005 Bastiaans, H., Donn, G., Knittel, N., Martelletti, A., Rees, R., Schwall, M., & Whitford, R. (2005). WO/2005/107465, “PLANT GROWTH REGULATION - 3,4-disubstituted maleimideals as phytoregulators”.

Theses

Year Citation
2001 Whitford, R. (2001). From intimate chromosome associations to wild sex in wheat. (PhD Thesis, The University of Adelaide).

Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
2016 Principal Supervisor PhD in Sciences - Hybrid Wheat Program Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Caterina Selva
2014 Co-Supervisor Identification and Characteristics of Genes Important for Hybrid Seed Population Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Allan Kouidri
2014 Principal Supervisor Implementation of Novel Genome Editing Tools For Revealing Functions of Wheat Genes Related To Drought Tolerance and Performance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Taj Arndell

Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
2011 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Investigating the Role of Tetrapyrrole Biosynthesis under Drought Stress in Cereal Transgenics Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Dilu Nagahatenna
Position
Hybrid Wheat Program Leader
Phone
83137280
Fax
8313 7102
Campus
Waite
Building
Plant Genomics Centre, floor 2
Room Number
2 36
Org Unit
Plant Science

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