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.
The 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:
- increased private sector investment in maize research
- early adoption and implementation of GM technologies
- 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
- Developing a robust male sterility and restoration system, and
- Improving wheat’s floral characteristics for out-crossing
Project 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.
- Positional cloning
- Molecular markers
- Genotyping by Sequencing (GbS)
- Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS)
- Quantitative PCR
- 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
- 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.
|2008||Research Scientist||Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics|
|2002 - 2003||Molecular Biologist||Bayer Cropscience|
|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|
|Dutch; Flemish||Can read, speak and understand spoken|
|1994 - 1997||University of Western Australia||Australia||Bachelor of Science Honours (1A)|
|1998 - 2002||PhD||University of Adelaide||Australia|
|Postdoctoral Fellow||Ghent University||Belgium|
|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.
|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.
|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.|
|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/.|
|2001||Whitford, R. (2001). From intimate chromosome associations to wild sex in wheat. (PhD Thesis, The 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|
|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|