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CSIRO Team

Dr. Anna Koltunow
Asexual Seed Formation Team & Project Leader BMGF Capturing Heterosis
Dr Koltunow has research interests in plant seed and fruit development and is an internationally recognised expert in an asexual form of seed formation in plants called apomixis. She has been involved in collaborative research projects on seed and fruit development with various laboratories in the United States and Europe and has worked with the horticultural industry to develop seedless fruit. Her research on apomixis is being applied to a range of crops where it should significantly economise hybrid seed production.

Dr. Martina Juranic
Research Scientist
Martina received her PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of Zagreb, Croatia in 2013. Her PhD research was a part of joint project between Prof Thomas Dresselhaus, University of Regensburg, Germany and Prof Dunja Leljak-Levanic, University of Zagreb with a focus on germline development, regulation of cell divisions influencing cell differentiation during sexual reproduction of maize. In 2014 Martina joined Anna Koltunow’s group at CSIRO to work on cell biology of apomixis in Hieracium, and moved over to the BMGF Capturing Heterosis project in February 2017. Her current research activities involve examining reproductive changes in cowpea.

Dr. Nial Gursanscky  
Postdoctoral Fellow
Nial studied for his BSc at the University of Queensland, then joined Bernie Carroll’s lab, also at UQ, for his Honours project and PhD. His PhD research involved a forward genetic screen to identify novel regulators of intercellular signalling by mobile small RNAs in Arabidopsis. In 2012 Nial moved to the Gregor Mendel Institute in Vienna, Austria, to do a post-doc in Thomas Greb’s lab, working on the regulation of cell division in the cambium stem-cell niche in Arabidopsis. In February this year he joined Anna Koltunow’s group at CSIRO Agriculture and Food, where he is working on the proof-of-concept in Arabidopsis for the Capturing Heterosis project.

Dr. Sam Henderson
Postdoctoral Fellow
Sam received his PhD from the University of Adelaide in 2014. During his project, Sam identified and functionally characterised candidate genes for chloride exclusion in grapevine. Sam then carried out postdoctoral work in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. In collaboration with CSIRO, he used heterologous expression systems to characterise a sodium transporter involved in grapevine salt tolerance, and investigated other genes for plant abiotic stress tolerance. Sam joined Anna Koltunow’s lab in January 2018, to investigate the genetic control of apomixis in Hieracium.

Dr. Matteo Riboni
Postdoctoral Fellow
Matteo earned his M.Sc. (2009) and Ph.D. (2013) at the University of Milan where his work focused on Arabidopsis. During the Ph.D. he studied the interactions between Flowering Time and Drought Stress showing for the first time that Abscisic Acid has a dual role in flowering time regulation and that this role depends on both the photoperiod (day length) and on flowering time genes. In the following years, he worked at the University of Milan studying the effects of drought in different species (grape and rice). In 2016 he moved to Adelaide where he joined the University of Adelaide as Research Officer working in the USAID project where the aim was to improve tolerance of wheat and rice to drought and salt conditions. He joined Anna Koltunow’s lab in January 2018 working on the Capturing Heterosis project. His current focus is understanding heterosis and flowering time in cowpea.

Elise Tucker
Senior Technical Officer
Elise obtained her Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours) degree from the University of Newcastle / CSIRO Plant Industry in 2001. Elise has worked in the fields of plant biology and plant molecular genetics, undertaking research in grapevine flower development, meiosis in wheat, Arabidopsis embryogenesis, molecular marker development for wheat breeding and map based cloning projects to identify the genetic control of wheat fertility. Elise has been involved in many projects involving genetic analysis, mapping and cloning mutated genes in both dicot and monocot species and has experience in the functional characterisation of genes involved in embryogenesis, meiosis and flowering, utilising a diverse range of molecular, cytological and genetic techniques. Elise started working on the Capturing Heterosis project in Anna Koltunow’s lab as a Research Technician in January 2017.

Marc Goetz
Senior Technical Officer
Marc received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Regensburg (Germany) in 2001. Marc has worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Dr Koltunow’s lab from 2001 to 2006 with a focus on parthenocarpy. After pursuing other projects, Marc has re-joined Dr Koltunow’s lab in May 2017 to support the work on induction of asexual seed production. His main research activities are the production of constructs for plant transformation and the molecular, physiological and developmental analyses of transgenic plants.

Steven Henderson
Senior Technical Officer
Steve is a Senior Technical Officer at CSIRO.  He supports data resource on laser captive samples and has been involved in aposporous sorghum work and looks after glasshouse quarantine for cowpea, and plant analyses.

Andrew Spriggs
Research Projects Officer
Andrew received a Bachelor of Bioinformatics with honours from the University of Wollongong in 2005. Since 2006, he has been part of the CSIRO Plant Industry (now Agriculture plant data sciences) bioinformatics team, doing bioinformatics project support for a very large variety of projects

Dilrukshi Nagahatenna
Technical Officer
Dilrukshi recently joined the team as a Technical Officer and her main research activities are large scale production of transgenic cowpea containing a range of genes and their physiological and molecular analysis. Dilrukshi recently completed her PhD at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG), University of Adelaide and her research was focused on investigating the role of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis under drought stress in cereal transgenics.

Tracy How
Technical Officer
Tracy joined the team in December 2015. She completed Honours at Flinders University and her research was focused on the manipulation of organic synthesis in grapevine. Tracy is a Technical Officer and her main research activities are large scale production of transgenic cowpea containing a range of genes and their physiological and molecular analysis

Natasha Bazanova 
Technical Officer
Natasha joined the team in January 2015 as a Technical Officer and provides support for the team with her main research activities including production of constructs for plant transformation and molecular analyses. She has over 15 years experience and previously contributed to projects at the Australia Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG), University of Adelaide where she was responsible for gene cloning, including Yeast one- and two- hybrid (Y1H, Y2H) methods and screening of cDNA libraries.