Ulrike Mathesius

Head of Division, Plant Sciences

Dr Ulrike Mathesius received her Dipl. Biol. (BSc Hons) at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany in 1995. She carried out her PhD at the Research School of Biological Sciences at ANU between 1996-1999, which focused on the symbiosis between rhizobia and legumes. This was followed by post doctoral research at RSBS in the area of plant proteomics between 1999 and 2001. In 2002 she moved to the School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a Post Doctoral Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. Ulrike then held an ARC Research Fellowship (2005-2010) and an ARC Future Fellow (2011-2015) working on the developmental regulation of nodulation, parasitic gall development and lateral root formation in legumes. She is currently a Professor in the Division of Plant Science.

Research interests

  • Nitrogen-fixing symbioses
  • Parasitic root knot nematodes
  • Microbial and environmental control of root developmental plasticity

Recent grants

  • 2019-2021: ARC Discovery grant (DP190101817): “Unique plant hormone responses- the key to nitrogen-fixing nodules”. E Foo, U Mathesius, D Nichols.
  • 2016-2018: Hermon Slade Foundation grant: “Exploiting flavonoid diversity in legumes to improve nitrogen-fixing symbiosis”. U Mathesius and GE van Noorden.
  • 2016-2020: ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Legumes for Sustainable Agriculture (IH140100013). B Kaiser, R Trethowan, U Mathesius, T Colmer, D Day, M Denton, M Adams, M Barbour, P Smith, A Merchand, H Bramley, R Deaker, T Sutton, D Bird, F Ogbonnaya.
  • 2015-2017: ARC Discovery grant (DP150102002): The key to making root nodules: new tricks for old hormones. U Mathesius.


Selected publications

  • Kawasaki A, Dennis PG, Forstner C, Raghavendra AKH, Richardson AE, Watt M, Mathesius U, Gilliham M,Ryan PR (2021) The microbiome of wheat and rice roots exhibits significant differences in structure between root types and along root axes. Functional Plant Biology, in press
  • Xie Z, Yu Z, Li Y, WangG, Tang C, MathesiusU, LiuX, LiuJ, LiuJ, Herbert SJ, WuJ, Jin J (2021) Linking rhizospheric diazotrophs to the stimulation of soybean N2 fixation in a Mollisol amended with maize straw. Plant and Soil, in press.
  • Rae AE, Rolland V, White R, Mathesius U (2021) New methods for confocal imaging of infection threads in crop and model legumes. Plant Methods 7:24.
  • Costa SR, Ng JLP, Mathesius U (2021) Interaction of symbiotic rhizobia and parasitic root-knot nematodes in legume roots – from molecular regulation to field application. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, in press (in press) https://doi.org/10.1094/MPMI-12-20-0350-FI
  • Mens C, Hastwell AH, Su H, Gresshoff PM, Mathesius U, Ferguson BJ. (2020) Characterisation of Medicago truncatula CLE34 and CLE35 in nitrate and rhizobia regulation of nodulation. New Phytologist 229: 2525–2534.
  • Costa SR, Chin S, Mathesius U (2020). Infection of Medicago truncatula by the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne javanica does not require early nodulation genes. Frontiers in Plant Science 11: 1050.
  • Veliz-Vallejos DF, Kawasaki A, Mathesius U (2020) The presence of plant-associated bacteria alters responses to N-acyl homoserine lactone quorum sensing signals that modulate nodulation in Medicago truncatula, Plants 9: 777.
  • Harris JM, Pawlowski K, Mathesius U (2020) Editorial: Evolution of signaling in plant symbioses. Front. Plant Sci. 11: 456.
  • Chapman K, Ivanovici A, Taleski M, Sturrock C, Ng JLP, Mohd-RAdzman NA, Frugier F, Bennett M, Mathesius U, Djordjevic MA (2020) CEP receptor signalling controls root system architecture in Arabidopsis and Medicago. New Phytologist (https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16483).
  • Ng JLP, Welvaert A, Wen J, Chen R, Mathesius U. (2020) The Medicago truncatula PIN2 auxin transporter mediates basipetal auxin transport but is not necessary for nodulation. Journal of Experimental Botany 71: 1562–1573.
  • Demina IV, Maity PJ, Nagchowdhury A, Ng JLP, van der Graaff E, Demchenko KN, Roitsch T, Mathesius U, Pawlowski K (2019) Accumulation of and response to auxins in roots and nodules of the actinorhizal plant Datisca glomerata compared to the model legume Medicago truncatula. Frontiers in Plant Science 10: 1085.
  • Goh C-H, Nicotra AB, Mathesius U (2019) Genes controlling legume nodule numbers affect phenotypic plasticity responses to nitrogen in the presence and absence of rhizobia. Plant, Cell and Environment 42: 1747-1757.
  • Gauthier-Coles C, White R, Mathesius U (2019). Nodulating legumes are distinguished by a sensitivity to cytokinin in the root cortex leading to pseudonodule development. Frontiers in Plant Science 9: 1901.
  • Chin S, Behm CA, Mathesius U (2018) Functions of flavonoids in plant-nematode interactions. Plants 7: 85.
  • Ng JLP, Mathesius U (2018) Acropetal auxin transport inhibition is involved in indeterminate but not determinate nodule formation. Frontiers in Plant Science 9: 169
  • Kohlen W, Ng JLP, Deinum EE, Mathesius U (2017) Auxin transport, metabolism and signaling during nodule initiation: Indeterminate and determinate nodules. Journal of Experimental Botany 69: 229-244
  • Liu Y, Hassan S, Kidd BN, Garg G, Mathesius U, Singh KB, Anderson J (2017) Ethylene signaling is important for isoflavonoid mediated resistance to Rhizoctonia solani in Medicago truncatula. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 30: 691-700
  • Kawasaki A, Donn S, Ryan PR, Mathesius U, DevillaR, Jones A, Watt M (2016) Microbiome and exudates of the root and rhizosphere of Brachypodium distachyon, a model for wheat. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0164533
  • Goh, C.-H., Nicotra, A.B. and Mathesius U. (2016) The presence of nodules on legume root systems can alter phenotypic plasticity in response to internal nitrogen independent of nitrogen fixation. Plant, Cell and Environment 39: 883-896
  • Shabala S, White R, Djordjevic MA, Ruan Y-L, Mathesius U (2016) Root to shoot signaling: diverse molecules, pathways and functions. Functional Plant Biology 43: 87-104
  • Ng JLP, Perrine-Walker FM, Wasson AP, Mathesius U (2015) The control of auxin transport in parasitic and symbiotic root–microbe interactions. Plants 4: 606-643
  • Ng JLP, Hassan, S, Truong TT, Hocart CH, Laffont C, Frugier F, Mathesius U (2015) Flavonoids and auxin transport inhibitors rescue symbiotic nodulation in the Medicago truncatula cytokinin perception mutant cre1. Plant Cell 27: 2210-2226
  • Mortier V, Wasson A, Jaworek P, De Keyser A, Decroos M, Holsters M, Tarkowski P, Mathesius U, Goormachtig S (2014) Role of LONELY GUY genes in indeterminate nodulation on Medicago truncatula. New Phytologist 202: 582-593.
  • Veliz-Vallejos DF, van Noorden GE, Mengqi Y and Mathesius U (2014) A Sinorhizobium meliloti-specific N-acyl homoserine lactone quorum-sensing signal increases nodule numbers in Medicago truncatula independent of autoregulation. Frontiers in Plant Science 5: 551.
  • Ferguson BJ and Mathesius U (2014) Phytohormone regulation of legume-rhizobia interactions. Journal of Chemical Ecology 40, 770-790.
  • Goh C-H, Veliz-Vallejo DF, Nicotra AB, Mathesius U (2013) The impact of beneficial plant-associated microbes on plant phenotypic plasticity. Journal of Chemical Ecology 39:826–839
  • Weston LA and Mathesius U (2013) Flavonoids: their structure, biosynthesis and role in the rhizosphere, including allelopathy. Journal of Chemical Ecology 39: 283-297.
  • Jin J, Watt M and Mathesius U (2012) The autoregulation gene SUNN mediates changes in root organ formation in response to nitrogen through alteration of shoot-to-root auxin transport. Plant Physiology 159: 489-500.
  • Hassan, S. and Mathesius, U. (2012) The role of flavonoids in root-rhizosphere signaling - opportunities and challenges for improving plant-microbe interactions. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 3429-3444.
  • Teplitski M, Mathesius U and Rumbaugh KB (2011) Quorum sensing signal perception and degradation by mammalian and plant cells. Chemical Reviews 111: 100-116.
  • Plet J, Wasson A, Ariel F, Le Signor C, Baker D, Mathesius U, Crespi M, and Frugier F (2011) MtCRE1-dependent cytokinin signaling integrates bacterial and plant cues to coordinate symbiotic nodule organogenesis in Medicago truncatula. Plant Journal 65, 622–633
  • Williams, M.E. and Mathesius, U. (2011) Intimate Alliances: Plants and their Microsymbionts. Teaching Tools in Plant Biology. The Plant Cell (online) doi/10.1105/tpc.111.tt1111.

  • Nicotra AB, Atkin, OK, Bonser SP, Davidson,A, Finnegan EJ, Mathesius U, Poot P, Purugganan MD, Richards CL, Valladares F, van Kleunen M (2010) Plant phenotypic plasticity in a changing climate. Trends in Plant Science 15: 684-692.

  • Hassan S, Behm CA and Mathesius U (2010) Effectors of plant parasitic nematodes that re-program root cell development. Functional Plant Biology 37: 933–942.
  • Laffont C, Blanchet S, Lapierre C, Brocard L, Ratet P, Crespi M, Mathesius U and Frugier F (2010) The Compact Root Architecture 1 gene regulates lignification, flavonoid production and polar auxin transport in Medicago truncatula. Plant Physiology 153:1597–1607.
  • Grunewald W., van Noorden G.E., van Isterdael G., Beeckman T., Gheysen G. and Mathesius U (2009). Manipulation of auxin transport in plant roots during Rhizobium symbiosis and nematode parasitism. Plant Cell 21: 2553-2562. 
  • Wasson AP, Ramsay K, Jones MGK and Mathesius U (2009) Differing requirements for flavonoids during the formation of lateral roots, nodules and root knot nematode galls in Medicago truncatula. New Phytologist 183: 167–179 
  • Mathesius U (2008). Auxin – at the root of nodule development? Functional Plant Biology, 35: 651-668. 
  • Beveridge C, Mathesius U, Rose RJ, Gresshoff PM (2007) Common regulatory themes in meristem development and whole plant homeostasis. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 10: 44-51.
  • van Noorden, G.E., Ross, J.J, Reid, J.B., Rolfe, B.G. and U. Mathesius (2006) Defective long distance auxin transport regulation in the Medicago truncatula super numeric nodulation mutant. Plant Physiology 140: 1494-1506.
  • Prayitno J, Imin N., Rolfe B.G., Mathesius U. (2006) Identification of ethylene-mediated protein changes during nodulation in Medicago truncatula using proteome analysis. Journal of Proteome Research, 5: 3084-3095.
  • Prayitno J, Rolfe B.G., Mathesius U. (2006) The ethylene insensitive sickle mutant of Medicago truncatula shows altered auxin transport regulation during nodulation. Plant Physiology, 142: 168-180.
  • Wasson, A.P., Pellerone, F.I. and Mathesius U. (2006) Silencing the flavonoid pathway in Medicago truncatula inhibits root nodule formation and prevents auxin transport regulation by rhizobia. Plant Cell 18, 1617-1629 
  • Bauer, W. D. and Mathesius, U. (2004) Plant responses to bacterial quorum sensing signals. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 7: 429-433 
  • Mathesius U., Mulders, S., Gao, M., Teplitski, M., Caetano-Anolles, G., Rolfe, B. G. and Bauer, W. D. (2003) Extensive and specific responses of a eukaryote to bacterial quorum sensing signals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 100: 1444-1449. 
  • Ferguson, B.F. and Mathesius U. (2003) Signaling interactions during nodule development.  Journal of Plant Growth Regulation, 22: 47-72
  • Mathesius, U. (2003) Conservation and divergence of signalling pathways between roots and soil microbes - the Rhizobium-legume symbiosis compared to the development of lateral roots, mycorrhizal interactions and nematode-induced galls. Plant and Soil 255: 105-119
  • Mathesius, U. (2001). Flavonoids induced in cells undergoing nodule organogenesis in white clover are regulators of auxin breakdown by peroxidase. Journal of Experimental Botany 52: 419-426
  • Mathesius, U., Charon, C., Rolfe, B. G., Kondorosi, A., and Crespi, M. (2000). Temporal and spatial order of events during the induction of cortical cell divisions in white clover by Rhizobium inoculation or localised cytokinin addition. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 13: 617-628.
  • Mathesius, U., Weinman, J. J. Rolfe, B. G., and Djordjevic, M. A. (2000).  Rhizobia can induce nodules in white clover by “hijacking” mature cortical cells activated during lateral root development. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 13: 170-182.
  • Hutangura, P., Mathesius, U., Rolfe, B. G. and Jones, M. E. K. (1999). Auxin induction is a trigger for root gall formation caused by root-knot nematodes in white clover and is associated with the activation of the flavonoid pathway. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 26: 221-231
  • Mathesius, U, Schlaman, H. R. M., Spaink, H. P., Sautter, C., Rolfe, B. G. and Djordjevic, M. A. (1998).  Auxin transport inhibition precedes nodule formation in white clover roots and is regulated by flavonoids and derivatives of chitin oligosaccharides. Plant Journal 14: 23-34.
  • Mathesius, U., Bayliss, C., Weinman, J. J., Schlaman, H. R. M., Spaink, H. P., Rolfe, B. G., McCully, M. E., and Djordjevic, M. A. (1998). Flavonoids synthesised in cortical cells during nodule initiation are early developmental markers in white clover. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 11: 1223-1232

All publications

BIOL2203 Field Studies in Functional Ecology

BIOL2142 General Microbiology

BIOL3002 Plants: Genes and the Environment

BIOL3106 Biosecurity

BIOL3109 Environmental and Evolutionary Developmental Biology

BIOL3177 Advances in Molecular Plant Science

BIOL3203 Advanced Microscopy in Biosciences