Professor Jacqueline Batley, an internationally recognised plant researcher, has been awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship for a research project that aims to revolutionise understanding of disease resistance genes in the plant kingdom.
Her project A walk on the wild side: understanding disease resistance across plants was awarded $3.3 million to compare gene diversity within and between plant families, with the aim of understanding disease resistance gene evolution in wild plant species and how it is affected by domestication and breeding.
Professor Batley was among 17 new Australian Laureate Fellowships announced this week, with all 17 to share in $53.9 million of funding for their five-year research projects as part of the 2023 Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme.
A prominent canola genomics researcher, Professor Batley leads the Batley Lab at UWA, a research team in crop genetics and genomics in the School of Biological Sciences, with a focus on disease resistance in Brassicas.
A genus of plants in the mustard family, Brassicas include several well-known and widely cultivated species, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale and turnips.
Professor Batley said she was thrilled with her Fellowship for a study which would identify and characterise disease resistance genes across the entire plant kingdom and study their evolution and how they affect disease resistance.
“We will use this information to design and breed disease resistant plants and increase crop yields, with the results translated for industry through the identification of new resistance genes for major Brassica diseases,” she said.
“The ultimate goal is to ensure that there is enough food to feed the growing population and that we have an armoury of resistance genes that can be deployed as new diseases emerge.
“This project will accelerate crop breeding, ensuring food security and supporting rural economies.”
UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Anna Nowak said UWA’s new ARC Laureate Fellow was an outstanding researcher, internationally recognised for her contributions in her field.
“The ARC Laureate scheme recognises cutting-edge research in Australia by world-leading researchers and the University congratulates Professor Batley on receiving this well-deserved recognition,” Professor Nowak said.
“We eagerly anticipate the invaluable insights and advancements that will arise from her ground-breaking research endeavour as she looks to unlock the secrets of disease resistance across plants.”
Internationally recognised plant researcher Professor Jacqueline Batley, now an Australian Laureate Fellow.