Rod Peakall completed his BSc (Hons) in 1984 and PhD in 1987, both at the University of Western Australia (UWA), before taking up an ARC funded 5-year postdoctoral position at Macquarie University in Sydney in 1988. He subsequently joined The Australian National University (ANU) in 1993. He has also held visiting fellowships at Rutgers University, USA (1992) and at ETH (2003), Zurich, Switzerland.
He brings 30 years of research experience in evolutionary biology with expertise in pollination biology, genetic analysis and chemical ecology. He also brings a track record of successful leadership on an ongoing series of inter-disciplinary Australian Research Council (ARC) projects. He has supervised many Honours students, more than 25 PhD students, and hosted 15 postdocs.
He is the first author of the widely used population genetics software package, GenAlEx: Genetic Analysis in Excel (Peakall and Smouse 2006; Peakall and Smouse 2012).
Research in the Peakall lab has long employed multidisciplinary approaches spanning the fields of ecology, genetics, molecular biology and chemical ecology.
Investigations have spanned a range of pure and applied questions in evolutionary biology, conservation biology and chemical ecology.
- The integration of multidisciplinary tools allows novel insights that are not possible on their own. Presently the research programs fall into two primary themes.
- Theme 1, the evolution of specialised pollinator interactions
Theme 2, population genetic analysis and evolution
- Orchids have featured strongly in theme 1 because their often highly specialised pollination systems are ideal for exploring a range of interesting ecological, biochemical, molecular and evolutionary questions.
- The target species for theme 2 have been diverse, spanning bacteria, fungi, plants, birds and mammals.
- ARC Discovery - Peakall R, Pichersky E, Linde C, Weston P (2015-2019) The biosynthesis and evolution of novel semiochemicals in Australian orchids
- ARC Linkage - Peakall R, Dixon KW, Linde, C (2011-2013) Above and below-ground specialization in Australian orchids and its implications for diversification and vulnerability
- ARC Discovery - Peakall R, Barrow RA, Pichersky E (2010-2012) The chemical, biochemical, genetic and ecological basis of pollinator-driven speciation in Australian sexually deceptive orchids
- ARC Linkage - Peakall R, Dixon KW, Linde C, Krauss SL, Barrow RA, Ghisalberti EL, Hutchinson MF (2009-2012) A multidisciplinary research program to assess limiting factors and predict impacts of climate change for endangered Australian orchids
- ARC Discovery - Peakall R (2004-2008) Sympatric speciation in Australian sexually deceptive orchids
- Scope TV Network 10 (August 2017)
- Deceptively Sexy Orchids Chemistry Views (2017)
- Research Highlights This Week in Nature (Sep 24, 2015).
- Orchids and chemical trickery. Chemistry Australia (October 2010)
- Pretty cheats and liars lure researchers. UWA News (Nov 2009)
- Flowers that tell lies. ANU ScienceWise, (Sep/Oct 2008)
- For orchids, life is meant to be sleazy. Canberra Times (Nov 17, 2008)
- The flower of seduction. Nature 445, 8-16-8-17 (Feb 22, 2007)
- Phillips, Ryan D.; Xu, Tingbao; Hutchinson, Michael F.; et al. Convergent specialization - the sharing of pollinators by sympatric genera of sexually deceptive orchids Journal of Ecology 101 (3) 826-835. 2013
- Blyton, Michaela D. J.; Banks, Sam C.; Peakall, Rod; et al. Functional genotypes are associated with commensal Escherichia coli strain abundance within-host individuals and populations Molecular Ecology 22 (15) 4112-4122. 2013
- Blyton, Michaela D. J.; Banks, Sam C.; Peakall, Rod; et al. High temporal variability in commensal Escherichia coli strain communities of a herbivorous marsupial Environmental Microbiology 15 (8) 2162-2172. 2013
- Menz, Myles H. M.; Phillips, Ryan D.; Dixon, Kingsley W.; et al. Mate-searching behaviour of common and rare wasps and the implications for pollen movement of the sexually deceptive orchids they pollinate Plos One 8. 2013
- Whitehead, M. R.; Peakall, R. Sexual mimicry in sympatric orchid species promotes outcrossing, multiple paternity and reproductive isolation South African Journal of Botany 86) 162 . 2013
- Bohman, Bjorn; Phillips, Ryan D.; Flematti, Gavin; et al. Sharing of pyrazine semiochemicals between genera of sexually deceptive orchids Natural Product Communications 8 (6) 701-702. 2013
- Whitehead, Michael R.; Peakall, Rod Short-term but not long-term patch avoidance in an orchid-pollinating solitary wasp Behavioral Ecology 24 (1) 162-168 . 2013
- Peakall, R.; Poldy, J.; Whitehead, M. R.; et al. The chemistry, ecology and evolution of pollination by sexual deception South African Journal of Botany 86) 140. 2013
- Falara, Vasiliki; Amarasinghe, Ranamalie; Poldy, Jacqueline; et al. The production of a key floral volatile is dependent on UV light in a sexually deceptive orchid Annals of Botany 111 (1) 21-30 . 2013
- Bohman, Bjoern; Jeffares, Lynne; Flematti, Gavin; et al. Discovery of tetrasubstituted pyrazines as semiochemicals in a sexually deceptive orchid Journal of Natural Products 75 (9) 1589-1594. 2012