Dr Trevor Garnett

Dr Trevor Garnett
 Position Director - Technology Development
 Org Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
 Email trevor.garnett@adelaide.edu.au
 Telephone +61 8 8313 1134
 Location Floor/Room 1 37 ,  Plant Accelerator Building ,   Waite
  • Biography/ Background

    In January 2014 I joined the Plant Accelerator, the lead node of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility. In my role as Director of Technology Development I identify phenotyping needs within the Australian plant science community, determine gaps in infrastructure and initiate and implement strategies to address these. I consult with scientists in the design and running of phenotyping experiments and I am also involved in the development and introduction of new tools to phenotype traits of interest. I lead the ARC Wheat Hub phenotyping program which is focussed on the use of UAVs to measure the performance of wheat field trials. I continue to research nitrogen use efficiency in cereals and am lead chief investigator on an ARC linkage project collaborating with DuPont-Pioneer.

    Following undergraduate studies at the University of Adelaide I travelled to Tasmania where I obtained a PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Tasmania, graduating in 1996 (Thesis: Ammonium and nitrate uptake by Eucalyptus nitens). In 1997 I returned to Adelaide as a post-doc in Plant Science at the University of Adelaide investigating iron transport into wheat grains with ultimate aim of addressing human iron deficiency through cereal grains with high iron availability. At the beginning of 2001 I lectured in plant nutrition in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Adelaide. From March 2001 until January 2006 I held a position with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) where I managed an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funded project collaborating with China and Laos. The main aim of this project was to increase livestock production through finding and developing lucerne (alfalfa) with tolerance to abiotic stress. From January 2006 until the end of 2013 I was a Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) located at the Waite Research Institute where I led a collaboration with DuPont-Pioneer (US) focussed on increasing the nitrogen use efficiency of cereals.



  • Research Interests


    Plant Scientists have gained vast knowledge about the genetics of various crop species during recent years. It has become increasingly easier and cheaper to sequence and map genomes, giving scientists access to information unimaginable just a few decades ago. However, a bottleneck has developed in capitalising on this information.

    The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility was established to relieve the 'phenotyping bottleneck' which has, until now, limited our ability to capitalise on substantial government and industry investments already made in plant functional genomics and modern breeding technologies.

    At the Plant Accelerator in Adelaide we are using high throughput phenotyping platforms to carry out large scale experiments with high resolution non-destructive measurements of plant growth.


    I lead the phenomics program at the Australian Research Council/GRDC funded Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Wheat in a Hot and Dry Climate. The program is focussed on the use of UAVs to measure the performance of field trials.


    Nitrogen Use Efficiency

    Nitrogen is one of the biggest input costs for farmers and the price is increasing because of the power used to industrially fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Approximately 4 % of the world’s energy is used to produced nitrogen fertiliser; this causes a considerable greenhouse gas contribution. Over 100 million tonnes of nitrogen fertiliser is applied to crops each year and 60% of this on cereals. Given the costs and environmental effects associated with production and usage of nitrogen fertilisers, plants with increased nitrogen use efficiency are of great importance to future food security. Nitrogen is the fertiliser that plants require the most, but only 40-50% of the applied fertiliser is taken up by the cereal crops. The nitrogen not taken up leads to pollution of waterways and oceans, one consequence being algal blooms at river deltas causing dead zones that lead to mass fish kills. Unused nitrogen fertiliser has a further environmental impact in that it is broken down in the soil by microbes and released into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    Our research is improving the nitrogen use efficiency of cereal plants by increasing the efficiency of mechanisms that allow plants to accumulate and use nitrogen. Focussing on corn, wheat and barley the project is characterising nitrogen related processes as the physiological, biochemical and molecular level across plant lifecycles.


  • Research Funding

    Grant Description




    High throughput wheat spike phenotyping with Xray CT (GRDC)

    Lead investigator


    $930 k

    Enhancing the infrastructure for grains research at the University of Adelaide (GRDC)

    Lead investigator Other Investigators:



    Wheat Quality Australia: ate Maturity Alpha-amylase (LMA) phenotyping for the Australian wheat breeding industry - validation

    Lead CI Other CI: Mackay (SARDI)



    ARC Research Hub for genetic diversity and molecular breeding for wheat in a hot and dry climate IH130200027

    Co CI

    Other CIs: Dr Delphine Fleury ; Dr Ute Baumann ; Dr Nicholas Collins ; Dr Stephan Haefele ; Prof Brent Kaiser ; Prof Peter Langridge ; Prof Stanley Miklavcic ; Dr Juan Juttner ; Dr Haydn Kuchel ; Dr Daniel Mullan ; A/Prof Sigrid Heuer ; Dr Sandra Dunckel


    $4.31M ARC

    $3.750M GRDC

    DVCR Infrastructure Grant for Hyperspectral Phenotyping Capability

    Sole Investigator



    NCRIS APPF Funding


    2013-2017 onwards






    Service Fee Income of all phenotyping projects run at The Plant Accelerator


    2015 onwards

    $ 350k per annum

    ARC Linkage Grant

    LP130101055 Control points in nitrogen uptake: enhancing the response of cereals to nitrogen supply and demand

    Lead CI

    Other CIs: Roessner (UM); Small (UWA); Heuer (UA); Rafalski (DuPont); Dhugga (DuPont); Kuchel (AGT)


    $ 524k (ARC)

    $ 295k (Industry)

    Waite Research Institute

    Purchase of LI-COR 6400XT Infra-red Gas Analyser (IRGA).

    Co CI with: Pagay, Gilliham; Wilkinson; Collins; Tyerman; Habili; Cavagnaro



  • Publications

    Journal Articles

    Khan Z., Rahimi-Eichi V., Haefele S., Garnett T. & Miklavcic S.J. (2018) Estimation of vegetation indices for high-throughput phenotyping of wheat using aerial imaging. Plant Methods, 14, 20.

    Plett D.C., Holtham L.R., Okamoto M. & Garnett T.P. (2018) Nitrate uptake and its regulation in relation to improving nitrogen use efficiency in cereals. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, 74, 97-104.

    Tiwari J.K., Plett D., Garnett T., Chakrabarti S.K. & Singh R.K. (2018) Integrated genomics, physiology and breeding approaches for improving nitrogen use efficiency in potato: translating knowledge from other crops. Functional Plant Biology, (doi:10.1071/FP17303)

    Sabermanesh K., Holtham L.R., George J., Roessner U., Boughton B.A., Heuer S., Tester M., Plett D.C. & Garnett T.P. (2017) Transition from a maternal to external nitrogen source in maize seedlings. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, 59, 261-274.

    Dayer S., Tyerman S.D., Garnett T. & Pagay V. (2017) Relationship between hydraulic and stomatal conductance and its regulation by root and leaf aquaporins under progressive water stress and recovery and exogenous application of ABA in Vitis vinifera L. 'Syrah'. Acta Horticulture, 227-234.

    George J., Holtham L., Sabermanesh K., Heuer S., Tester M., Plett D. & Garnett T. (2016) Small amounts of ammonium (NH4+) can increase growth of maize (Zea mays). Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 179, 717-725.

    Plett D., Holtham L., Baumann U., Kalashyan E., Francis K., Enju A., Toubia J., Roessner U., Bacic A., Rafalski A., Dhugga K.S., Tester M., Garnett T. & Kaiser B.N. (2016) Nitrogen assimilation system in maize is regulated by developmental and tissue-specific mechanisms. Plant Molecular Biology, 92, 293-312.

    Plett D., Baumann U., Schreiber A.W., Holtham L., Kalashyan E., Toubia J., Nau J., Beatty M., Rafalski A., Dhugga K.S., Tester M., Garnett T. & Kaiser B.N. (2016) Maize maintains growth in response to decreased nitrate supply through a highly dynamic and developmental stage-specific transcriptional response. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 14, 342-353. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12388

    Garnett T., Plett D., Conn V., Conn S., Rabie H., Rafalksi A., Dhugga K., Tester M. & Kaiser B. (2015) Variation for N uptake system in maize: genotypic response to N supply. Frontiers in Plant Science, 6. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00936

    Garnett T., Plett D., Heuer S. & Okamoto M. (2015) Genetic approaches to enhancing nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE) in cereals: challenges and future directions. Functional Plant Biology, 42, 921-941. Doi:10.1071/FP15025

    Garnett T., Conn V., Plett D., Conn S., Zanghellini J., Mackenzie N., Enju A., Francis K., Holtham L., Roessner U., Boughton B., Bacic A., Shirley N., Rafalski A., Dhugga K., Tester M. & Kaiser B.N. (2013) The response of the maize nitrate transport system to nitrogen demand and supply across the lifecycle. New Phytologist, 198, 82-94. doi: 10.1111/nph.12166

    Book Chapters

    Saade S, Negrão S, Plett D, Garnett T, Tester M. Genomic and genetic studies of abiotic stress in barley. In: Stein N, Muehlbauer G, ed. The barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) genome. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag. (Invited book chapter – in press).

    Plett D, Garnett T, Okamoto M. 2017. Molecular genetics to discover and improve nitrogen use efficiency in crop plants. In: Hossain MA, Kamiya T, Burrit DJ, Fujiwara T, Tran L-S P, ed. Plant macronutrient use efficiency: molecular and genomic perspectives. New York, NY: Elsevier, pp 93-122. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-811308-0.00006-5. LP130101055 2014-2017

    Garnett T.P. & Rebetzke G.J. (2013) Improving Crop Nitrogen Use in Dryland Farming. In: Improving Water and Nutrient-Use Efficiency in Food Production Systems, pp. 123-144. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Entry last updated: Sunday, 16 Sep 2018

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