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Dr Graham Lyons

Telephone +61 8 8313 6533
Position Research Associate
Fax +61 8 8313 7109
Building Waite Building
Floor/Room LG 11
Campus Waite
Org Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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Biography/ Background

Grew up in Adelaide. Obtained B Agric Sci degree (University of Adelaide) in 1975. Spent 1980-1983 working on an agricultural development program in the Solomon Islands, and 1984-1997 operating a family agribusiness in SA (beef cattle, sheep, cereal crops), including the successful "Glen Bold" Angus stud. In the 1990s co-authored seven books, mostly on global environmental, agricultural, population, economic and health issues.

Obtained Master of Public Health degree (University of Adelaide, majoring in epidemiology and nutrition) in 2000, and a PhD (University of Adelaide, GRDC funded) in 2004. Title: High-selenium wheat: Biofortification for better health. An outcome of this research was the development and marketing of three innovative food products.

My background has formed my focus on applied research which can benefit producers and consumers in a timely manner. In order to overcome widespread nutrient/micronutrient deficiencies, it is necessary to move beyond production of food crops with yield as the sole focus, toward a "food system" paradigm based on sustainable provision of nutritious food to optimise human and animal health.

From 2006-2010 I managed the HarvestPlus Food Systems program (funded by the World Bank, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). This program included the following projects:

*Agronomic biofortification, soil fertility and crop variety trials in a micronutrient-deficient region of Shaanxi province, Central China.

*An orange-fleshed sweet potato program in Solomon Islands and PNG to raise vitamin A status (funded by ACIAR and HarvestPlus. See ).

*Preliminary investigation of potential trial sites for a food systems proof-of-concept trial in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi), which involved the collection and analysis of plant tissues of important food crops.

*Agronomic biofortification field trials with cassava in Colombia, South America, in collaboration with the International Centre of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

*A pig feeding trial to investigate the effect of the carotenoid, lutein on bioavailability of dietary iron.

HarvestPlus Director, Dr Howarth Bouis, along with orange sweet potato researchers in East Africa, Drs Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga and Jan Low were awarded The World Food Prize for 2016.

My other interests include physical fitness, nutrition, classical music, evolution and travel.

Research Interests

*Screening cereals for sodium accumulation and tolerance (sodicity & salinity research). Currently funded by The South Australian Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) to screen oats for sodicity/salinity tolerance.

*Agronomic biofortification of food crops with micronutrients to reduce human and animal malnutrition and disease

*Investigating beneficial effects of selenium in plants

*Establishment and management of international agricultural and health programs. I am currently involved in an ACIAR-funded program to improve nutrition security on atolls in Kiribati and Tuvalu.

*Epidemiology of chronic diseases

*Development of functional foods

*Development of novel "nutritherapies" for viral diseases and cancer (see "Selenium needed for Ebola treatment" and "SelenatePLUS experimental cancer therapy" under "Files" below)  


Publications include:

Genc Y, Oldach K, Taylor J, Lyons G. Uncoupling of sodium and chloride to assist breeding for salinity tolerance in cereals. New Phytologist 2015; 210: 145-156. 

Saraswati P, Syahputra AT, Kossay L, Muid N, Ginting E, Lyons G. Yield trial and sensory evaluation of sweetpotato cultivars in Highland Papua and West Papua. Journal of Tropical Agriculture 2013; 51: 74-83.

Christophersen OA, Lyons G, Haug A, Steinnes E. Selenium (Ch 16 pp 429-464) in BJ Alloway (ed) Heavy Metals in Soils 3rd edition. Dordrecht: Springer 2012.

Lyons G and Cakmak I. Agronomic Biofortification of Food Crops with Micronutrients (Ch 4 pp 97-122) in TW Bruulsema et al (eds) Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: A Scientific Review. Norcross, Georgia USA and Paris: International Plant Nutrition Institute and International Fertilizer Industry Association 2012. 

Lyons G. Selenium in cereals: improving the efficiency of agronomic biofortification in the UK. Commentary in Plant and Soil 2010; 332: 1-4.

Genc Y, Humphries JM, Lyons GH, Graham RD. Breeding for quantitative variables. Part 4: Breeding for nutritional quality traits. In: Plant Breeding and Farmer Participation (S Ceccarelli, EP Guimares and E Weltzien, eds), pp 419-448. Rome: FAO 2010.

Englberger L, Lyons GH, Foley W, Daniells J et al. Carotenoid and riboflavin content of banana cultivars from Makira, Solomon Islands. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 2010; 23: 624-632.

Wu J, Lyons G, Graham R, Fenech M. The effect of selenium, as selenomethionine, on genome stability and cytotoxicity in human lymphocytes measured using the cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome assay. Mutagenesis 2009; 24(3): 225-232.

Lyons G, Genc Y, Stangoulis J, Liu F, Soole K, Graham R. Selenium increases seed production in Brassica. Plant and Soil 2009; 318: 73-80. (see full article under Files below)

Lyons G, Genc Y, Graham R. Biofortification in the food chain, and use of selenium and phyto-compounds in risk reduction and control of prostate cancer. In G Banuelos & Z-Q Lin (eds) Development and uses of biofortified agricultural products. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press 2008.

Kirby J, Lyons G, Karkkainen M. Selenium speciation on biofortified products using species un-specific isotope dilution and reverse phase ion pairing-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2008; 56(5): 1772-1779.

Englberger L, Lyons G, Daniells J et al. Screening and awareness work on Solomon Islands sweet potato and banana varieties creates interest. Port Moresby, PNG: ACIAR Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Nius Vol 1, Issue 1 April 2008.

Haug A, Graham R, Christophersen O, Lyons G. How to use the world's scarce selenium resources efficiently to increase the selenium concentration in food. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease 2007; 19: 209-228.

Dunstan J, Breckler L, Hale J, Lehmann H, Franklin P, Lyons G, Ching S, Mori T, Barden A, Prescott S. Associations between antioxidant status, markers of oxidative stress and immune responses in allergic adults. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 2006; 36(8): 993-1000.

Lyons G, Ortiz-Monasterio I, Stangoulis J, Graham R. Selenium concentration in wheat grain: Is there sufficient genotypic variation to use in breeding? Plant and Soil 2005; 269: 369-380.

Lyons G, Stangoulis J, Graham R. Tolerance of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to high soil and solution selenium levels Plant and Soil 2005; 270: 179-188.

Lyons G, Genc Y, Stangoulis J, Palmer L, Graham R. Distribution of selenium and other nutrients in wheat grain, and the effect of processing on wheat selenium content. Biological Trace Element Research 2005; 103(2): 155-168.

Lyons GH, Stangoulis JCR, Graham RD. Exploiting micronutrient interaction to optimize biofortification programs: the case for inclusion of selenium and iodine in the HarvestPlus program (Special Article) Nutrition Reviews 2004; 62(6): 247-252.

Lyons G, Lewis J, Lorimer M, Holloway R, Brace D, Stangoulis J, Graham R . High-selenium wheat: agronomic biofortification strategies to improve human nutrition. Food, Agriculture and Environment 2004; 2(1): 171-178.

Lyons GH, Judson GJ, Stangoulis JCR, Palmer LT, Jones JA, Graham RD. Trends in selenium status of South Australians. Medical Journal of Australia 2004; 180(8): 383-386.

Professional Associations

World Public Health Nutrition Association

International Society for Selenium Research

Australian Centre for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine

FoodPlus Group, University of Adelaide 

Laucke Flour Mills:

Angus Society of Australia


Expertise for Media Contact

CategoriesAgriculture & Farming, Medicine & Medical Research
ExpertiseHuman nutrition, plant nutrition, food systems, micronutrient deficiencies, non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases, Ebola, selenium, zinc, iodine, vitamin A, Pacific Islands, Solomon Islands, nutritious local leafy vegetables, orange-fleshed sweet potato, Drumstick tree, biofortification
NotesWinner of the Keith Barley Award for agronomic research at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide (2004) Former manager of the HarvestPlus food systems program (funded by the Gates Foundation, World Bank, USAID): established and managed trials in China etc. Leader of several programs funded by the Australian Centre for International Research (ACIAR) which link agriculture with human nutrition.
Mobile0430 805 111
After hours(08) 8332 7887

Entry last updated: Tuesday, 19 Jul 2016

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