An internationally recognised CSIRO plant pathologist has been appointed Co-Director of the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM), to help reduce the economic impact of crop disease for Australian grain growers.
In an inaugural joint appointment between CCDM and CSIRO, Professor Karam Singh, Chief Research Scientist in CSIRO Agriculture and Food and an expert in soil borne fungal pathogens and insect pests, will assist to provide scientific leadership to the CCDM, a national research centre co-supported by Curtin University and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
CCDM Director Professor Mark Gibberd said he and Professor Singh will together co-direct the centre, leading research initiatives in plant pathology, agronomy and agribusiness as well as fungicide resistance, ensuring research outcomes deliver better bottom line solutions to Australian growers in all areas relating to crop disease.
“CCDM has a strong track record in improving disease resistance in crop varieties, particularly through the discovery of the disease-causing proteins we call ‘effectors’ which has led to major breakthroughs in breeding wheat with more robust disease resistance, saving growers millions of dollars,” Professor Gibberd said.
“CSIRO has an accomplished national and international profile for improving crop varieties through genomic techniques and providing new solutions to growers to help reduce the disease levels in their crop.
“As the size and scope of Curtin’s research activities in agriculture grows, the partnership is a positive step forward for the grains industry and provides a foundation for further joint research activities. I look forward to seeing what the two organisations can accomplish together.”
Professor Singh has been a research scientist with CSIRO in Perth since 1999. Prior to this, he was a tenured faculty member at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In addition to his long-standing interests in molecular plant pathology, Professor Singh has been interested in using genomic approaches for legume crop improvement, focusing mainly on lupins.
“I am particularly passionate about using the power of new functional genomic approaches to tackle major issues facing Australian and international agriculture in both disease and legume crop improvement areas, while also helping to develop the next generation of plant molecular scientists,” Professor Singh said.
“As CCDM’s new Co-Director, I hope to enhance the centre’s ability in making important scientific breakthroughs and ultimately make real differences to the profitability and sustainability of Australian cropping businesses.”
In another joint appointment, CSIRO plant pathologist Dr Lars Kamphuis will lead CCDM’s Sclerotinia Stem Rot of Canola Program.
The CCDM is a national research centre that aims to reduce the economic impact of crop disease for Australian growers through research in crop genetics, fungicide resistance and farming systems. It has been led by Professor Gibberd since its establishment in 2014.