Associate Professor Matthew Tucker

Associate Professor Matthew Tucker
 Position ARC Future Fellow
 Org Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
 Telephone +61 8 8313 9241
 Location Floor/Room 4 ,  Wine Innovation Central ,   Waite
  • 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

  • Teaching Interests

    Current PhD Students

    Sarah Moss (CSIRO/UA)

    Jana Phan (UA/PCW)

    Matthew Aubert (UA)

    Laura Wilkinson (UA)

    Guillermo Garcia (JHI/PCW)

    Haoyu (Mia) Lou (UA/UoN)

    Cindy Callens (UoN/UA)

    Kara Ann Levin (UA)

    Rosanna Petrella (Uni Milan/UA)

    Kum Foeng (Maple) Ang (UA/PCW)


    Completed PhD Students

    Sonia Bosca (Uni Freiburg)

    Annika Hinze (Uni Freiburg)


    Completed Honours/Diplom/Masters Students

    Daniel McKay (UA/PEB)

    Sara Pinto (Uni Porto)

    Dayton Bird (UA)

    Weng Herng Leong (UA)

    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)

  • Research Interests

    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


    Ovule Development

    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 (, as well as international partnerships with the SEXSEED consortium (, North Carolina State University ( and the University of Freiburg (

    Recent Papers:

    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.


    Grain Development 











    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 ( and involves international partners including the James Hutton Institute ( We also enjoy share a strong partnership with the State Breeding Institute at the University of Hohenheim ( relating to genetic analysis of complex traits in cereals.

    Recent Papers:

    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.

    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.


    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 ( 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.

    Recent Papers:

    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.

    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.


    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.


    Recent Papers:

    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.

    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.

  • Publications