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Dr Matthew Tucker
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Awards & Achievements
2014 - ARC Future Fellow, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide
2011-2014 Senior Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, University of Adelaide
2008-2011 Research Fellow, CSIRO Plant Industry
2006-2008 Junior Group Leader, University of Freiburg
2004-2006 EMBO Long Term Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Freiburg
1999-2003 Inaugural Premier Scholarship for Biotechnology, University of Adelaide
Current PhD Students
Sarah Moss (CSIRO/UA)
Jana Phan (UA)
Matthew Aubert (UA)
Laura Wilkinson (UA)
Haoyu (Mia) Lou (UA/UoN)
Cindy Callens (UoN)
Guillermo Garcia (JHI/PCW)
Current Honours Students
Weng Herng Leong (UA)
Dayton Bird (UA)
Completed PhD Students
Sonia Bosca (Uni Freiburg)
Annika Hinze (Uni Freiburg)
Completed Honours/Diplom/Masters Students
Sandy (Shi) Khor (UA)
Matthew Aubert (UA)
Grance Ang (UA)
Chao Ma (UA)
George Mondoh (UA)
Basheer Jasim (UA)
Jessika Pan (UA)
Anna Holt (Uni Freiburg)
Dr Tucker is a developmental geneticist with research expertise in plant reproduction, meristem growth and cell wall biosynthesis. He received his PhD from the University of Adelaide and CSIRO Plant Industry in 2003, undertook postdoctoral research as an EMBO fellow at the University of Freiburg in Germany and in 2011 joined the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls as a Senior Research Fellow. In 2015 he was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship.
Research in his laboratory investigates communication between different cells in the ovule, seed and root, with the aim of understanding how these signals can be engineered for superior plant products and reproductive strategies. His work has been published in journals including Developmental Cell, PloS Genetics, Plant Cell and Development.
Specific areas of research in the Tucker lab
How do signals from somatic cells in the ovule promote the development of female reproductive cells?
Plant reproduction delivers many fruits, grains, beverages and industrial products that are a fundamental requirement of human society. Understanding how plants produce their gametes is important to ensure stable and improved yields in the future. We have been studying ovule development in Arabidopsis, barley and Hieracium to determine how female reproductive cells are specified. Communication between different ovule cells has long been hypothesised as a mechanism controlling reproductive cell identity, but is challenging to address due to the technical difficulties in accessing individual ovule cells. With partners at CSIRO Agriculture (Dr Anna Koltunow), we have developed and utilised a method for Laser Assisted Microdissection (LAM) to capture these cells and characterise genes involved in ovule development. In parallel, large scale genetic screens have led to the delineation of molecular pathways influencing reproductive cell fate. Work in this area is supported by the ARC (http://www.arc.gov.au/), as well as international partnerships with the SEXSEED consortium (http://www.fc.up.pt/sexseed/), North Carolina State University (http://www4.ncsu.edu/~rgfranks/) and the University of Freiburg (http://www.biologie.uni-freiburg.de/LauxLab/default%20tafang.htm)
Okada T, Hu Y, Tucker MR, Taylor JM, Johnson SD, Spriggs A, Tsuchiya T, Oelkers K, Rodrigues JCM, Koltunow AMG (2013) Enlarging cells initiating apomixis in Hieracium praealtum transition to an embryo sac program prior to entering mitosis. Plant Physiology, 163(1):216-31. http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.113.219485
Tucker MR, Okada T, Hu Y, Scholefield A, Taylor JM, Koltunow AM (2012) Somatic small RNA pathways promote the mitotic events of megagametogenesis during female reproductive development in Arabidopsis. Development, 139(8):1399-404. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22399683
How do signalling pathways influence the differentiation of cell types in the cereal grain?
Cereal grains are an important dietary component that contribute benefits for human health and nutrition, and can also be utilised for industrial processes in the brewing, fibre and food industries. Within the cereal grain, different tissues such as the outer aleurone layer and inner starchy endosperm accumulate varying amounts of starch, dietary fibre and antioxidants. Genes controlling the balance between outer and inner identity might therefore be used to tailor the composition of cereal grains for specific end uses. We have been studying endosperm development in cereal species to understand the genetic basis for endosperm cell identity, with a specific focus on mechanisms that allow different cell types to communicate. This work is supported by the ARC and GRDC (https://grdc.com.au/) and involves international partners including the James Hutton Institute (http://www.hutton.ac.uk/staff/robbie-waugh). We also enjoy share a strong partnership with the State Breeding Institute at the University of Hohenheim (https://www.uni-hohenheim.de/institution/landessaatzuchtanstalt-2) relating to genetic analysis of complex traits in cereals.
Zhang R, Tucker MR, Burton RA, Shirley NJ, Little A, Morris J, Milne L, Houston K, Hedley PE, Waugh R, Fincher GB (2016) The dynamics of transcript abundance during cellularisation of developing barley endosperm. Plant Physiol. doi:10.1104/pp.15.01690. http://bit.ly/1n75yZ2
Trafford K, Haleux P, Henderson M, Parker M, Shirley NJ, Tucker MR, Fincher GB, Burton RA (2013) Grain development in Brachypodium and other grasses: Interactions between cell expansion, starch deposition and cell wall synthesis. Journal of Experimental Botany, 64(16):5033-47. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24052531
Plant Cell Walls
How do different cell wall polysaccharides influence the behaviour of plant cells during growth, development and pathogen attack?
Plant cells are surrounded by a complex wall consisting of polysaccharides, proteins, phenolic acids and water. The cell wall fulfils a crucial role in supporting plant growth and development and defending against pathogen invasion. In collaboration with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls (http://www.plantcellwalls.org.au/) we have been studying how different components of the wall are synthesised, how they influence reproductive development and how they interact with barley parasites such as the cereal cyst nematode, Heterodera avenae.
Houston K, Tucker MR, Chowdhury J, Shirley N, Little A (2016) The plant cell wall: a complex and dynamic structure as revealed by the responses of genes under stress conditions. Front. Plant Sci., doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00984. http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpls.2016.00984/abstract
Aditya J, Lewis J, Shirley NJ, Tan H, Henderson M, Fincher GB, Burton RA, Mather DE, Tucker MR (2015) The dynamics of cereal cyst nematode infection differ between susceptible and resistant barley cultivars and lead to changes in (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan levels and HvCslF gene transcript abundance. New Phytologist, 207(1), 135-147. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25737227
Shoot meristem development
What is the genetic basis for embryonic shoot meristem development?
ARGONAUTE proteins bind small RNA molecules to silence the transcription and translation of homologous target sequences. In Arabidopsis, several AGOs contribute to development of the embryonic shoot meristem. Using a combination of genetic screens and natural mutants, we are studying the broader network of AGO-dependent genes controlling embryonic meristem development to determine how these might be tailored to improve plant growth under adverse conditions.
Tucker MR, Roodbarkelari F, Truernit E, Adamski NM, Hinze A, Lohmueller B, Würschum T, Laux T (2013) Accession-specific modifiers act with ZWILLE/ARGONAUTE10 to maintain shoot meristem stem cells during embryogenesis in Arabidopsis. BMC Genomics, 14:809. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/14/809/abstract
Knauer S, Holt AL, Rubio-Somoza I, Tucker EJ, Hinze A, Pisch M, Javelle M, Timmermans MC, Tucker MR, Laux T (2013). A protodermal miR394 signal defines a region of stem cell competence in the Arabidopsis shoot meristem. Developmental Cell, 24(2), 125-132. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23333352
Link to Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=htFkdPIAAAAJ&hl=en
Liu W, Leiser W, Reif JC, Tucker MR, Losert D, Weissmann S, Hahn V, Maurer HP, Würschum T (2016) Multiple-line cross QTL mapping for grain yield and thousand-kernel weight in triticale. Plant Breeding (in press)
Tucker MR and Koltunow AMG (2014) Traffic monitors at the cell periphery: the role of cell walls during early female reproductive cell differentiation in plants. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 17:137–145. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369526613001921
Tucker MR and Koltunow AMG (2009) Sexual and asexual (apomictic) seed development in flowering plants: molecular, morphological and evolutionary relationships. Functional Plant Biology 36; 490-504. http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/FP09078.htm
Koltunow AMG and Tucker MR (2008) Functional embryo sac formation in Arabidopsis without meiosis – one step towards asexual seed formation (apomixis) in crops? Journal of Bioscience 33; 309-311. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19005229
Tucker MR and Laux T (2007) Connecting the paths in plant stem cell regulation. Trends in Cell Biology, 17; 403-410. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17766120
Koltunow AMG and Tucker MR (2003) Advances in apomixis research: can we fix heterosis? In: Plant biotechnology and beyond (ed I.K. Vasil). pp 39-46. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20033061991.html
Chaudhury AM, Koltunow AMG, Payne CT, Luo M, Tucker MR, Dennis ES and Peacock WJ (2001) Control of Early seed development. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology 17; 677-699. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11687501
Koltunow AMG, Vivian-Smith A, Tucker MR and Paech NA (2002) The central role of the ovule in apomixis and parthenocarpy. In: Plant Reproduction, (eds O'Neill SD, Roberts JA). Annual Plant Reviews pp 221-256 Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK.
Member of the Australian Society of Plant Biologists
Member of the International Association of Sexual Plant Reproduction Research
Healthy grain fibre helps barley resist pests. http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news76882
Fine-tuning plant cells for superior cereal crops: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news73542.html
Uni Adelaide Media Release: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news71844.html
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