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Professor Matthew Gilliham

Telephone +61 8 8313 8145
Position ARC Future Fellow
Fax +61 8 8313 0431
Building Plant Research Centre
Floor/Room 2 24
Campus Waite
Org Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

To link to this page, please use the following URL:

Biography/ Background

See my lab website, twitter feedpublications and Researchgate page for additional information.

Broad Research Interests

The functional characterisation of salinity tolerance mechanisms in crop and model plants, especially those related to membrane transport of Na+ and Cl-

The regulation of membrane transport systems by plant energy status, and C:N balance

The mechanisms of cell-specific nutrient storage

The use of knowledge gained from the above in breeding programs to improve crop nutrient use efficiency and abiotic stress tolerance

Selected Research Highlights

First identifcation of GABA signalling mechanism in plants (Nature Communications).

First field demonstration that shoot sodium exclusion, via manipulation of sodium transport genes, improves the grain yield of wheat (Nature Biotechnology). The same study also showed that the regaining of genetic diversity lost through conventional breeding can improve the salt tolerance of crop plants.

Numerous studies highlighting the importance of xylem-associated cells in the root for the control of shoot salt accumulation (Plant CellPlant PhysiologyPlant JournalPLOS One). 

First demonstration that cell specific nutrient compartmentation in leaves has a physiological role. Mesophyll specific calcium compartmentation is necessary to regulate cell wall calcium, leaf expansion, stomatal aperture and plant productivity (Plant Cell). Mesophyll specific calcium compartmentation is required as an osmoticum for growth in serpentine conditions (New Phytologist). 

Quick CV

Associate Professor, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide (2015-)

Chief Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (2014-2020).

ARC Future Fellow (2013-2017)

Senior Lecturer, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide (2013-2014)

Research Positions at University of Cambridge and Univeristy of Adelaide (2003-2012)

PhD Plant Science, University of Cambridge (2002)

BSc (Hons) Ecology, University of Lancaster (1997)

Awards, Prizes, Fellowships And Recognition

2015 ASPB Highly Cited Author (2008-2013)

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

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

Funding Sources

Australian Research Council (ARC) (Discovery, Linkage, Centres of Excellence Schemes)
Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)
Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA)
South Australian Government
Waite Research Institute
The University of Adelaide


CIs of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
Dr Stuart Roy (ACPFG; salt tolerance)
Dr Richard James (CSIRO, Canberra; salt tolerance)
Dr Peter Ryan (CSIRO, Canberra; organic acid transport)
Dr Rob Walker and Dr Mandy Walker (CSIRO, Adelaide; grapevine salt tolerance)
Dr Cas Collins (UoA; viticulture)
Prof Jose Feijo (USA; pollen tube physiology)
Dr Rongxia Guan and Prof Lijuan Qiu (CAAS, China; soybean salt tolerance)
Prof Mark Tester (Saudi Arabia; salt tolerance)
Dr Christine Faulker (JIC, UK; plasmodesmata)
Dr Anuphon Laohavisit and Prof Ken Shirasu (Riken, Japan; calcium signalling) 

For past successful collaborations see publications.


Lectures and practicals into:
BSc Agricultural Sciences
BSc Viticulture and Oenology
Masters in Plant Biotechnology programs.

Other responsibilites

COMBIO 2017 co-chair (plant section)
Member of School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Research Committee.
International Organising Committee - International Workshop for Plant Membrane Biology, previous Principal Organiser (Adelaide, 2010)  
Organiser for distinguished guest seminar series.

Associate Editor: BMC Plant Biology
Associate Editor: Frontiers of Plant Physiology
Associate Editor: Plant, Signaling & Behavior


Selected Publications (see google scholar for full listing)

Salt transport and tolerance

Henderson SW, Wege S, Qiu J, Blackmore DH, Walker AR, Tyerman SD, Walker RR, Gilliham M* (2015) Grapevine and Arabidopsis cation-chloride cotransporters localise to the Golgi and trans-Golgi network and indirectly influence long-distance ion homeostasis and salt tolerance. Plant Physiology doi:

Munns R, Gilliham M* (2015) Salinity tolerance of crops – what is the cost? New Phytologist doi:10.1111/nph.13519.

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 GmSALT3Plant Journal 80:937–950.

Henderson SW, Baumann U, Blackmore DH, Walker AR, Walker RR, Gilliham M*. (2014) Shoot chloride exclusion and salt tolerance in grapevine is associated with differential ion transporter expression in roots. BMC Plant Biology 14:273.

Byrt CS, Krishnan M, Xu B, Lightfoot D, Athman A, Watson-Haigh NS, Jacobs A, Plett D, Munns R, Tester M, Gilliham M*. (2014) Accumulation of Na+ in bread wheat is controlled by the Na+ transporter TaHKT1;5-D. Plant Journal 80:516–526.

Waters S, Gilliham M, Hrmova M (2013) Plant high affinity potassium (HKT) transporters involved in salinity tolerance: Structural insights to probe differences in ion selectivity. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14:7660-7680.

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. ESI high cite, F1000 Recommended

Plett D, Safwat G, Gilliham M, Møller IS, Roy SJ, Shirley N, Jacobs A, Johnson A, Tester M (2010) Improved salinity tolerance of rice through cell type-specific expression of AtHKT1;1. PLoS ONE 5(9):e12571.

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. ESI high cite, F1000 Recommended

Gilliham M, Tester M (2005) The regulation of anion loading to the maize root xylem. Plant Physiology 137: 819-828.

GABA Signalling

Gilliham M§ and Tyerman SD (2016) Linking metabolism to membrane signalling: the GABA-malate connection. Trends in Plant Science. Accepted 23rd November 2015

Ramesh S†, Tyerman SD†, Xu B, Bose J, Kaur S, Conn V, Domingos P, Ullah S, Wege S, Shabala S, Feijó J, Ryan PR, Gilliham M§ (2015) GABA signalling modulates plant growth by directly regulating the activity of plant-specific anion transporters. Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms8879.

Cell specific nutrient accumulation

Liu G-W, Li D-Q, Sun A-L, Athman A, Gilliham M, Liu L-H (2014) Molecular identification and functional analysis of a maize (Zea mays) DUR3 homolog that transports urea with high affinity. Planta. Accepted 8th December. doi. 10.1007/s00425-014-2219-7

Conn SJ, Berninger P, Broadley MR, Gilliham M* (2012) Exploiting natural variation to uncover candidate genes that control element accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytologist 193:859-866.

Gilliham M*, Athman A, Tyerman SD and Conn SJ (2011) Cell-specific compartmentation of mineral nutrients is an essential mechanism for optimal plant productivity; another role for TPC1? Plant Signaling and Behavior 6:1656-1661

Conn S, Conn V, Tyerman SD, Kaiser BN, Leigh RA and Gilliham M* (2011) Arabidopsis magnesium transporters, MGT2/MRS2-1 and MGT3/MRS2-5, are important for magnesium partitioning within Arabidopsis thaliana mesophyll vacuoles. New Phytologist 190:583-594.

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. ESI high cite, F1000 Recommended

Conn SJ, Gilliham M* (2010) Comparative physiology of elemental distributions in plants. Annals of Botany 105:1081-1102. ESI high cite

Calcium Transport and Signalling

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. (Cover Article) ESI high cite, F1000 Must read

Roy SJ, Gilliham M, Berger B, Essah PA, Cheffings C, Miller AJ, Widdowson L, Davenport RJ, Liu L-H, Skynner MJ, Davies JM, Richardson P, Leigh RA, Tester M (2008) Investigating glutamate receptor-like gene co-expression in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant, Cell and Environment 31: 861-871.

Tracy FE, Gilliham M, Dodd AN, Webb AAR, Tester M (2008) Cytosolic free Ca2+ in Arabidopsis thaliana are heterogeneous and modified by external ionic composition. Plant, Cell and Environment 31: 1063-1073.

Kiegle E, Gilliham M, Haseloff J, Tester M (2000) Hyperpolarisation-activated calcium currents found only in cells from the elongation zone of Arabidopsis thaliana roots. Plant Journal, 21: 225-229.

Water transport

Vandeleur RK, Sullivan W, Athman A, Jordans C, Gilliham M, Kaiser BN, Tyerman SD (2014) Rapid shoot-to-root signalling regulates root hydraulic conductivity via aquaporins. Plant Cell and Environment 37:520-538.

Gilliham M, Dayod M, Hocking B, Xu B, Conn SJ, Kaiser BN, Leigh RA and Tyerman SD (2011) Calcium delivery and storage in plant leaves; exploring the link with water flow. Journal of Experimental Botany 62:2233-2250. Cover image.

Vandeleur RK, Mayo G, Shelden MC, Gilliham M, Kaiser BN and Tyerman SD (2009) The role of plasma membrane intrinsic protein aquaporins in water transport through roots: diurnal and drought stress responses reveal different strategies between isohydric and anisohydric cultivars of grapevine. Plant Physiology 149:445-60.


Nagarajan Y, Rongala Y, Luang S, Singh A, Shadiac N, Hayes J, Sutton T, Gilliham M, Tyerman SD, McPhee G, Voelcker NH, Mertens HDT, Kirby N, Lee J-G, Yingling YG, Hrmova M (2015) An integrative platform reveals that a barley boron tolerance protein mediates Na+-dependent anion transport. The Plant Cell. Accepted 23rd November 2015

Athman A, Tanz S, Conn V, Jordans C, Mayo GM, Weng WN, Burton RA, Conn SJ, Gilliham M* (2014) A fast and simple in situ PCR method for localising gene expression in plant tissue. Plant Methods, 10:29. (article link)

Baby T, Hocking B, Tyerman SD, Gilliham M, Collins C (2014) Modified method for producing grapevine plants in controlled environments. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 65:261-267.

Conn SJ, Hocking B, Dayod M, Xu B, Athman A, Henderson S, Aukett L, Conn V, Shearer MK, Fuentes S, Tyerman SD, Gilliham M* (2013) Protocol: A simple and versatile hydroponics growth system for nutritional and physiological analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana and other plants. Plant Methods 9:4.

Roy SJ, Conn SJ, Mayo GM, Athman A, Gilliham M* (2012) Transcriptomics on small samples. In, Methods in Molecular Biology: Plant Salt Tolerance Eds. Shabala S and Cuin T. Humana Press, NJ, USA, Vol 913, pp. 335-350.

Gilliham M* (2007) Membrane structure and methods for studying membrane transport. In, Plant Solute Transport. Eds. Yeo AR and Flowers TJ. Blackwell, Oxford, UK. pp. 47-72. ISBN 978-1-4051-3995-3.

Gilliham M*, Sullivan W, Tester M & Tyerman SD (2006) Simultaneous ion-flux and current measurement from plant protoplasts. Plant Journal 46:134-144.

*communicating author

Expertise for Media Contact

CategoriesAgriculture & Farming, Science & Technology
ExpertisePlant Science, Salinity Tolerance, Plant Nutrition, Viticulture, Plant Genomics
Mobile0431 663614

Entry last updated: Tuesday, 10 Jan 2017

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