Lead Chief Investigator: Ian Wright, Western Sydney University

Collaborating Chief Investigators: Tim Brodribb, David Jordan, Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, Christine Beveridge


Our aim is to investigate ecophysiological adaptations to heat and drought in select species and clades of Australian Andropogoneae, with a view to understanding the genetic basis for and control of key adaptations, and the parallel to adaptations in groups such as eucalypts.  

The Andropogoneae (C4 grasses, tropical/subtropical in distribution) includes maize, sugarcane and sorghum, as well as 160 native Australian species spread across 36 genera.  

The Australian genera with most species are Sorghum (22 species), Ischaemum (15 species) and Iseilema (12 species). Themeda (5 species) is notable, particularly because T. trianda (Kangaroo Grass) occurs across >15° C range in mean annual temperature, > 2000 mm range in rainfall, and a variety of soil types.

Our approach

We will conduct a range of sub-projects, all of which will aim to deliver phenome-to-genome knowledge, with medium-term view towards crop improvement and long-term potential for developing new crops.  

We will supply other projects with resources such as: 

  • phenotypic and physiological knowledge 
  • genomic and phenomic datasets that can be used to search for environmental–genetic associations 
  • genomic datasets across a large diverse system with applications in comparative genomics, network evolution and gene family evolution. 

We will choose traits based on prior ecophysiological knowledge, their utility for modelling (APSIM; optimality modelling), and their alignment with Centre’s program of responsible innovation.