Plant Science

Rachel Burton, Head of the Department of Plant Science

Professor Rachel Burton
Head of the Department of Plant Science

Science solutions to major crop and horticultural challenges.

In collaboration with industry, plant-breeding programs in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine have produced more than half of the commercially grown grain varieties in southern Australia.

Our research delivers outcomes of direct significance to both the Australian and global agricultural, food and wine industries.

We achieve this by collaborating across various sciences including molecular genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, epigenetics, metabolomics, phenomics, molecular biology, cell biology, physiology, and biophysics.


Research strengths

barley root

Plant biology and biochemistry

Plant biology and biochemistry are major research strengths in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. Research areas include plant and cell physiology, membrane transport, plant energy biology, plant reproductive biology, plant cell wall biology and biochemistry, glycoscience and cereal chemistry.


image of different wheat varieties

Plant genetics, genomics and breeding

Analysis of the genetic and epigenetic control of economically important traits (abiotic stress, biotic stress, productivity, end-use quality) leads to understanding of causes of observed variation in plants and to the development of tools and technologies that can be used in crop improvement.

We develop improved germplasm, breeding methods and breeding technologies. We develop new varieties of durum wheat, faba bean, almond and ornamental eucalypts.


image of grape vines

Viticulture and horticulture

Our research in viticulture addresses the growth and management of grapevines and berries including physiology, nutrition, water relations, stress tolerance and chemistry. Research and development of new vineyard technologies is also a priority.

Our horticultural research involves the breeding of new varieties of almond and ornamental eucalypts, and insect pollination of horticultural crops.


data analysis

Crop bioinformatics

Technological and data driven approaches have become the cornerstone of modern biology. Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary science with the focus on developing and applying computationally intensive methods to solve formal and practical problems arising from the management and analysis of biological ‘big data’. This requires a new breed of researchers that can work effectively in multidisciplinary teams.

With such a team of researchers from across the intersections of molecular biology, plant breading, genetics, biochemistry, computer science, mathematics, and statistics we specialise in agricultural crop bioinformatics.