Plant Nutrition, Salinity Tolerance, Molecular Physiology, Electrophysiology
Matt gained a BSc in Ecology from Lancaster University and a PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Cambridge, both in the UK. In 2006 he immigrated to Australia to run the Plant Cell Physiology Laboratory at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide. In 2012, he was awarded a South Australian Tall Poppy Award for Excellence in Science Research and Communication, The Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and a Group of Eight China-Australia Fellowship. In 2013, he received an ARC Future Fellowship and became a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology in 2014. In 2017 he was the recipient of an Executive Dean of Sciences Research Excellence Award at the University of Adelaide and took up a role as the Deputy Head of School (Research) for the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. Matt was recognised as a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher in 2019 and became the Director of the Waite Research Institute, the University of Adelaide’s flagship for agriculture, food and wine innovation, in the same year.
Matt’s areas of research specialisation is crop plant nutrition and stress resilience with a focus on salinity and drought tolerance. Specifically, his group studies transport and signalling mechanisms underpinning these processes with the aim of having them applied through plant breeding to improve crop yield and quality in the field. Matt is also developing programs in space agriculture – specifically the growth and adaptation of plants to space environments and the production of novel bio products in plants.
Matt’s group studies the transport and signalling processes that underpin improvements in crop nutrition and stress tolerance. His research scales from genetics, through cell biology and whole plant physiology. Where applicable, his lab’s fundamental research is then applied through plant breeding to modify signalling and transport processes in plants to improve crop yield and quality in the field. His main areas of study include salinity tolerance, anionic nutrition (particularly chloride) and GABA signalling. Notable advances his group have made include:
- The first demonstration that wheat salt tolerance and grain yield can be improved in the field through modification of transport genes (Nature Biotechnology ).
- The discovery of a mechanism by which GABA could act as a stress signal in plants (GABA-regulated anion channels) (Nature Communications ).
- Confirmation that GABA is a signal in plants through the discovery that it regulates stomatal guard cell opening, water use efficiency and drought tolerance (Nature Communications ).
- The discovery that cell-specific ion accumulation has physiological roles (Plant Cell , New Phytologist )
- Frequent demonstrations that cell-specific ion transport processes are critical for stress tolerance and nutrition (e.g. Plant Physiology , Plant Journal …).
He has also authored well-respected reviews in his key areas of study: salt tolerance ; chloride transport ; single cell transport processes and GABA signalling .
Awards, Prizes, Fellowships And Recognition
- 2019 Web of Science highly Cited Researcher
- 2017 Executive Dean of Sciences Research Excellence Award
- 2015 ASPB Highly Cited Author
- 2013 ARC Future Fellow – Anion Transport In Plants
- 2012 South Australian Tall Poppy For Excellence In Science Research And Communication
- 2012 Dean Of Faculty (Sciences) Order Of Merit, University Of Adelaide
- 2012 Go8 China-Australia Fellow
- 2012 Science And Innovation Award For Young People In Agriculture, Fisheries And Forestry
- 2010 Principal Organiser for the International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology XV, Adelaide
- 2008 Faculty of Sciences Research Award, University of Adelaide
- 2003 BBSRC Wain International Research Fellowship
- 2000-2002 Frank Smart Studentship
- 1998-2002 BBSRC Postgraduate Studentship
Lectures and practicals into:
- BSc Agricultural Sciences
- BSc Viticulture and Oenology
- Masters in Plant Biotechnology programs.
Director: Australian Grain Technologies Board
Member: Australian Plant Phenomics Facility Advisory Board
Member: South Australian Premiers Science and Innovation Council
Chair: Adapting to abiotic stress and climate change special interest group
Secretary: Australian Society for Plant Scientists
Editor: Plant Communications
Editor: Plant Physiology
Australian Society for Plant Scientists
Australian Society for Viticulture and Oenology
American Society for Plant Biology
American Society for Enology and Viticulture
Society for Experimental Botany
For full publication list and citations see Google Scholar
Ten Selected Publications
§ = corresponding author, † = Equal contribution
- Li B, Tester M, Gilliham M (2017) Chloride on the Move. Trends in Plant Science http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2016.12.004
[IF:14.7, 2/204 Plant Sciences]Invited review: Outlines recent research highlights in the control of chloride transport to the shoot and related salt tolerance mechanisms.
- Li B, Byrt C, Qiu J, Baumann U, Hrmova M, Evrard A, Johnson AAT, Birnbaum KD, Mayo GM, Jha D, Henderson SW, Tester M, Gilliham M, Roy SJ (2016) Identification of a stelar-localised transport protein that facilitates root-to-shoot transfer of chloride in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 170:1014-29
[IF:8.0, 8/204 Plant Sciences]First molecular identification of a channel responsible for direct root-to-shoot chloride transfer in plants.
- Ramesh SR†, Tyerman SD†, Xu B, Bose J, Kaur S, Conn V, Domingos P, Ullah S, Wege S, Shabala S, Feijó JA, Ryan PR, Gilliham M (2015) GABA signalling modulates plant growth by directly regulating the activity of plant-specific anion transporters. Nature Communications 6: 7879
[IF:11.9, 3/57 Multi-disciplinary Sciences] Altmetric:87 ESI High Cite. First identification of the mechanism by which GABA can act as a signal in plants.
- Munns R, Gilliham M (2015) Salinity tolerance of crops – what is the cost? New Phytologist 208: 668-673 .
[6/204 Plant Sciences, IF:7.8] ESI high cite, ESI Hot Paper.A new well-cited synthesis of mechanisms of crop salt tolerance
- Guan R†, Qu Y†, Guo Y†, Yu L, Liu Y, Jiang J, Chen J, Ren Y, Liu G, Tian L, Jin L, Liu Z, Hong H, Chang R, Gilliham M, Qiu L. (2014) Salinity tolerance in soybean is modulated by natural variation in GmSALT3. Plant Journal 8: 937–950 [IF:7.0, 10/204 Plant Sciences] Altmetric:49.Identification of a novel mechanism of salt tolerance in soybean that influences geographical distribution of soybean in China.
- Munns RJ†, James RA†, Xu B†, Athman A, Conn SJ, Jordans C, Byrt CS, Hare RA, Tyerman SD, Tester M, Plett D and Gilliham M (2012) Grain yield of modern wheat on saline soils is improved by ancestral HKT gene. Nature Biotechnology 30:360-364
[IF:38.3, 2/163 Biotech. & Applied Microbiol.] ESI High cite, F1000.Reintroduced genetic diversity improves wheat grain yield under salinity; spans breeding, molecular biology, electrophysiology and fieldwork.
- Michard E, Lima PT, Borges F Silva AC, Carvalho JE, Gilliham M, Liu L-H, Obermeyer G, Feijó JA (2011) Glutamate-Receptor-like genes control pollen tube Ca2+ influx and morphogenesis. Science 6028:434–437 [IF:35.2, 4/57 Multidisciplinary Sciences, citations: 144/126] (Cover) ESI high cite, F1000.First in planta demonstration that GLRs encode depolarisation-activated Ca2+ channels. Isolated knockout plants, analysed electrophysiology, co-wrote.
- Conn SJ†, Gilliham M†§, Athman A, Schreiber AS, Baumann U, Moller I, Cheng N-H, Stancombe MA, Hirschi KD, Webb AAR, Burton R, Kaiser BN, Tyerman SD and Leigh RA (2011) Cell-specific vacuolar calcium storage mediated by AtCAX1 regulates apoplastic calcium concentration, gas exchange and plant productivity. Plant Cell 23:240–257
[IF:10.5, 4/204 Plant Sciences ESI high cite, F1000.First demonstration that mesophyll-specific vacuolar calcium compartmentation controls leaf cell wall calcium concentration, which regulates leaf productivity; co-conceived project.
- Conn SJ, Gilliham M (2010) Comparative physiology of elemental distributions in plants. Annals of Botany 105:1081–1102
[IF:3.4, 26/204 Plant Sciences] ESI high cite.Highly cited review outlining the importance of cell specific processes in plant nutrition and stress tolerance
- Møller IS, Gilliham M, Jha D, Mayo GM, Roy SJ, Coates JC, Haseloff J, Tester M (2009) Shoot Na+ exclusion and increased salinity tolerance engineered by cell type-specific manipulation of Na+ transport in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 21:2163–2178.
[IF:10.5, 4/204 Plant Sciences, citations: 261/178] ESI high cite, F1000 Recommended.First direct in planta demonstration that HKT1 retrieves xylem Na+. Designed and performed electrophysiology and cryo-SEM, co-wrote.