Germinate or remain quiescent?

Drought in NSW


Seed germination is a crucial developmental check point that initiates a new life cycle. Its appropriate timing is a condition of successful seedling establishment, plant propagation and competitiveness, and usefulness as a source of food. 

In a recent genetic screen we looked for mutants altered in the perception of abiotic stress during germination in an attempt to discover genes involved in signalling environmental variation to the seed compartments - protective seed envelopes, embryo nourishing  tissues, embryo itself- and modify the intricate interactions between these compartments  that germination absolutely requires. Through that screen, we isolated a set of novel seed germination genes, and generated genetic material enabling investigation of their mechanisms of action and of the molecular pathways they operate in.

Projects are available to build on exciting initial results on these two fronts, and investigate the role of candidate genes involved in the perception by seeds of abiotic stress, and the signal transduction pathway elicited to regulate the awakening of the embryo and its post-embryonic development until acquisition of autotrophic growth.

Questions to be addressed are at the interface of developmental biology, molecular genetics, hormonal signaling and physiology, and can be tailored into Projects  with variable emphasis and balance between these disciplines depending on students' inclinations.

Approaches involved include: seed biology assays; genetic engineering for tissue/stage specific expression of candidate genes, advanced microscopy, protein biochemistry, transcriptomics (targeted or genome wide); transgenesis/mutagenesis/use of natural diversity

Prospective Honours, Masters or PhD students, or Summer Scholars  should make direct contact with Josette Masle (

Updated:  21 July 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB