Josette Masle

After undergraduate studies in Biology, Mathematics and Physics, I integrated the French Grande École INA-PG (now AgroParis Tech) in Paris, from which I received my Degree (Docteur Ingénieur, Life Sciences) and my Doctorate (Plant Biology), on a CNRS PhD scholarship. I was appointed at INRA, Paris, where I carried out research in plant developmental biology and the processes driving competition between neighboring plants. I was then seconded from my position of Directeur de Recherche there, to the Research School of Biological Sciences, at ANU where I initiated a research program on the molecular physiology of root:shoot communication, mechanical stress and drought signaling, in their effects on the coordinated development and function of roots and leaves. I am fascinated by the highly integrated, finely tuned mechanisms involved in the genesis of patterns, shape and structure in plants, their plasticity in response to environmental signals and their adaptive/evolutionary significance. This is what is shaping current research in my lab.

Research interests

Our major focus is on the interplay between genetic and environmental determinants of plant development and morphogenesis. We are studying how plants coordinate cellular proliferation and differentiation within and between organs, and generate patterns and architecture in response to endogenous controls and environmental cues. We are investigating the regulatory networks involved and their role in the ability of plants to mine their environment and make optimum use of water and carbon for growth and survival.

Our research combines molecular biology and genetics, developmental biology and; physiology, and makes use of both directed genetic manipulation and natural genetic diversity, using whatever model system is most appropriate for the specific question being asked, individually, or in combination for comparative genomics/physiology approaches.

Recent grants

  • Molecular tools for the modulation of transpiration efficiency in wheat. 
    Grains Research and Development Corporation, Gene Discovery Grant (2013-2017)
  • The plasticity and genetic control of root development under mechanical impedance.
    Grains Research and Development Corporation, Gene Discovery Grant (2010-2013)
  • Physiological and molecular controls of plant transpiration efficiency in Arabidopsis. ARC (Australian Research Council) Discovery grant. (2007-2010)
  • Isolation and functional evaluation of candidate transpiration efficiency genes in wheat. Grains Research and Development Corporation, Gene Discovery Grant (2010-2013)
  • Combining plant molecular physiology and breeding to improve canola (Brassica napus) performance in dry environments.
    ARC Linkage grant. (2005-2009)
  • Genetic controls of root impedance and drought signalling in wheat.
    Grains Research and Development Corporation, Gene Discovery Grant (2006-2010).

Selected publications

  • Branco R, Masle J. 2019. Systemic signalling through TCTP1 controls lateral root formation in Arabidopsis. Journal of Experimental Botany, In press.

    Nanda AK,  El Habti A,  Hocart C,  Masle J. 2019. Timing seed germination under changing salinity: a key role of the ERECTA receptor-kinases. bioRxiv 576512; doi:

    Chen W, Taylor MC, Barrow RA, Croyal M,  Masle J. 2019.  Loss of Phosphoethanolamine N-Methyltransferases abolishes phosphatidylcholine synthesis and is lethal. Plant Physiology,

  • Cazzonelli CI, Vanstraelen M, Yin K, Carron-Arthur A, Nisar N, Tarle G, Cuttriss AJ, Searle IR, Simon S, Benkova E, Mathesius U, Masle J, Friml J, Pogson BJ. 2013. Role of the Arabidopsis PIN6 auxin transporter in auxin homeostasis and auxin-mediated development. PlosOne
  • Yun-Kuan Liang, Xiaodong Xie, Shona E. Lindsay, Yi Bing Wang, Josette Masle, Lisa Williamson, Ottoline Leyser and Alistair M. Hetherington. 2010. Cell wall composition contributes to the control of transpiration efficiency in Arabidopsis thaliana. The Plant Journal
  • Jost R, Berkowitz O, Shaw JE, Masle J. 2009. Biochemical characterisation of two wheat phosphoethanolamine N-methyltransferase isoforms with different sensitivities to inhibition by phosphatidic acid. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284, 46:31962-31971.
  • Berkowitz O, Jost R, Pollman S and Masle J. 2008. Characterisation of TCTP, the translationally controlled Tumor Protein, from Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell, 20:3430-3447.
  • Hoque MS, Masle J, Udvardi MK, Ryan PR, Upadhyaya NM. 2006. Over-expression of the rice OsAMT1-1 gene increases ammonium uptake and content, but impairs growth and development of plants under high ammonium nutrition. Functional Plant Biology, 33:153-163.
  • Masle J, Gilmore SR, Farquhar GD. 2005 The ERECTA gene regulates plant transpiration efficiency in Arabidopsis. Nature, 436, 866-870 
  • Buer CS, Wasteneys GO, Masle J. 2003. Ethylene modulates root wave responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology, in press
  • Kaiser BN, SR Rawat, Siddiqi MY, Masle J, Glass AD 2002. Functional analysis of an Arabidopsis t-DNA "knock-out" of the high-affinity NH4+ transporter AtAMT1;1. Plant Physiology, 130: 1263-1275.
  • Masle J. 2002 Root impedance and plant performance- Physiology, Genetic determinants. In: Plant Roots, The Hidden Half (3rd edition) Y. Waisel, A. Eshel, U. Kafkafi eds, Marcel Dekker, Inc. Publ, NewYork, 807-819.
  • Buer S, Masle J, Wasteneys GO. 2001 Growth conditions modulate root-wave phenotypes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant and Cell Physiology, 41:1164-1170.
  • Masle J. 2000. The effects of elevated [CO2] on cell division rates, growth patterns and blade anatomy in young wheat plants are modulated by factors related to leaf position, vernalisation and genotype. Plant Physiology, 122:1399-1415.
  • Masle J. 1999. Root impedance: sensing, signalling and physiological effects. In: Plant responses to environmental stresses: From phytohormones to genome reorganization. H.R. Lerner ed., M. Dekker, Inc., New York Publ., Chapter 22, pp 476-495.
  • Masle J. 1998. Growth and stomatal responses of wheat seedlings to spatial heterogeneity of mechanical resistance to root penetration in wheat. Case of bi-layered soils. Journal of Experimental Botany, 49:1245-1257.
  • Beemster, GTS, Masle, J, Williamson, RW and Farquhar, GD 1996. Effects of soil resistance to root penetration on leaf expansion. Journal of Experimental Botany, 47, 1663-1678.
  • Masle J, Badger MR, Hudson GS. 1993. Effects of ambient CO2 concentration on growth and nitrogen use in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants transformed with an antisense gene to the small subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase. Plant Physiology, 103, 1075-1088.
  • Masle, J 1992. Will plant performance on soils prone to drought or with high mechanical impedance to root penetration be improved under elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide? Australian Journal of Botany 40, 491-500.
  • Masle, J and Farquhar, GD 1988. Effects of soil strength on the relation of water use efficiency and growth to carbon isotope discrimination in wheat seedlings. Plant Physiology 86, 32-38.

All publications

Convener of Research Projects in Biology across campus (BIOL3208 and BIOL3209 courses).