Lead Chief Investigator: David Jordan, The University of Queensland

Collaborating Chief Investigators: Barbara Holland, Mark Cooper, Robert Henry


Recent research suggests that changes in gene composition make a major contribution to plant species adaptation to diverse environments.  

Investigating the variation in gene composition among closely related species with different adaptation and evolutionary histories provides useful information about the functionality of gene families and their interactions in gene networks. 

Our objective is to create a grass pan-genome data resource that researchers across the Centre can use to investigate these variations in gene composition. 

The pan-genome resource will be Andropogoneae-centric. This tribe of tropical and temperate grasses includes sorghum, maize and rice.  

It will be useful for several projects investigating the evolution of genes and gene networks, and the genetic basis underlying species differentiation and adaptation within sorghum, maize and rice, including the following projects: 

  • Adaptations to heat and drought in the Andropogoneae  
  • Improved phylogenetic profiling to better understand and predict the genotype-to-phenotype map  
  • Discovering new pathways to enhance breeding predictions by integrating genome-to-phenome and hierarchical biological models  
  • Domestication underground – exploring how modification of plant hormone signalling, including during plant breeding, influences beneficial plant-microbe symbioses. 

Our approach

Rice, maize and sorghum are important crop species that share a close ancestry.  

We will analyse recently generated de novo sequences of rice, maize and sorghum to investigate the evolution of gene content in a grass pan-genome.