Plants obtain water and mineral nutrients through their roots, and thus roots sustain global biomass productivity. However, studying roots comes with challenges from their complex physiology and their soil and whole-plant environments.
This is further complicated due to the presence of myriad of microbial species where roots survive in the hidden zone of soil. Research in the Watt Group focuses on discovering how root-microbe interactions can be improved for increased biomass.
Professor Michelle Watt
Adrienne Clarke Professorial Chair of Botany
University of Melbourne, Australia
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Professor Michelle Watt
Prof. Michelle Watt holds the Adrienne Clarke Chair of Botany at the University of Melbourne. She is also the President of the International Society of Root Research, and Co-Chair of the Root Phenotyping Working Group. Michelle uses imaging and sensor technologies in the field and lab with modelling to understand how roots function in the world's increasingly dynamic climates. The aim is …Profiles
Dr Suzanne Donn
Dr Suzanne Donn is investigating how plants and their root associated bacteria respond to soil warming, including interactions between wheat cultivars and the base climate scenario. Suzanne completed her PhD at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute), linking changes in nematode community structure to barley crop management strategies and comparing taxonomic identification to DNA based methods. Following this, …Profiles
Dr Sneha Gupta
Dr Sneha Gupta is a Postdoc working in close collaboration with Michelle Watt and Prof Ute Roessner. She uses the microcosms, called ‘EcoFAB’ to test the effects of plants on the N movement from soil to plant without and with inhibitors (including the commercial inhibitors NBPT and DMPP) in Australian soils. Sneha just finished her PhD under Prof Ute Roessner working on soil …Profiles
Lisa Mau is a graduate researcher in the Jülich-University of Melbourne Postgraduate Academy (JUMPA) with UoM and the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) in Germany. Lisa’s PhD project brings together unicellular algae with wheat roots. Algal biomass contains nutrients, but unlike mineral fertilizer, in chemical forms that are not directly available to plants. She is using a mass-balance model to calculate phosphorus release by …PhD Candidate, ...
Allene Macabuhay is a graduate researcher in the Jülich-University of Melbourne Postgraduate Academy (JUMPA) with UoM and the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) in Germany. Allene is investigating the phenotypic changes and biochemical mechanisms behind the plant root and beneficial soil bacterial interaction under heat stress. Advanced high-throughput shoot and root phenotyping platform will be utilized to closely monitor plant growth promotion through time …PhD Candidate, ...
Sibel Yildirim is a graduate researcher in the Jülich-University of Melbourne Postgraduate Academy (JUMPA) with UoM and the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) in Germany. Sibel has always been interested in interdisciplinary and innovative scientific topics. During her PhD studies at The University of Melbourne, she aims to synthesise next generation nitrification inhibitors to increase nitrogen uptake in plants and improve their growth and …PhD Candidate, ...
Martino Schillaci is a graduate researcher in the Jülich-University of Melbourne Postgraduate Academy (JUMPA) with UoM and the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) in Germany. Martino's PhD project focuses on the interaction between cereals and soil beneficial bacteria, and how it affects plant metabolism in suboptimal growing conditions. He is studying plant phenotype, transcriptome and metabolome at various stages of the interaction with the …PhD Candidate, ...
Professors Michelle Watt and Ute Roessner and Dr Berit Ebert have been awarded one of the UoM E=mc2 seed funds to start exploring links between carbon and stress! – August 2020
Professor Michelle Watt received the Adrienne Clarke Chair of Botany supported by the Melbourne Botany Foundation for awarding to an internationally outstanding plant scientist who will provide academic leadership in research and teaching. – Jan 2020
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He, F., Thiele, B., Kraus, D., Bouteyine, S., Watt, M., Kraska, T., & Kuhn, A. J. (2021). Effects of Short-Term Root Cooling before Harvest on Yield and Food Quality of Chinese Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Alboglabra Bailey). Agronomy, 11(3), 577. Link
Mau, L., Kant, J., Walker, R., Kuchendorf, C. M., Schrey, S. D., Roessner, U. & Watt, M. (2021). Wheat Can Access Phosphorus From Algal Biomass as Quickly and Continuously as From Mineral Fertilizer. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12, 14. Link
Severini, A. D., Wasson, A. P., Evans, J. R., Richards, R. A., & Watt, M. (2020). Root phenotypes at maturity in diverse wheat and triticale genotypes grown in three field experiments: Relationships to shoot selection, biomass, grain yield, flowering time, and environment. Field Crops Research, 255, 107870. Link
Gupta, S., Schillaci, M., Walker, R., Smith, P. M., Watt, M., & Roessner, U. (2020). Alleviation of salinity stress in plants by endophytic plant-fungal symbiosis: Current knowledge, perspectives and future directions. Plant and Soil, 1-26. Link
Rich, S. M., Christopher, J., Richards, R., & Watt, M. (2020). Root phenotypes of young wheat plants grown in controlled environments show inconsistent correlation with mature root traits in the field. Journal of Experimental Botany. Link
Watt, M., Fiorani, F., Usadel, B., Rascher, U., Muller, O., & Schurr, U. (2020). Phenotyping: New Windows into the Plant for Breeders. Annual review of plant biology, 71. Link
Tracy, S. R., Nagel, K. A., Postma, J. A., Fassbender, H., Wasson, A., & Watt, M. (2020). Crop improvement from phenotyping roots: Highlights reveal expanding opportunities. Trends in plant science, 25(1), 105-118. Link
Wasson, A. P., Nagel, K. A., Tracy, S., & Watt, M. (2020). Beyond digging: noninvasive root and rhizosphere phenotyping. Trends in plant science, 25(1), 119-120. Link
Arsova, B., Foster, K. J., Shelden, M. C., Bramley, H., & Watt, M. (2020). Dynamics in plant roots and shoots minimize stress, save energy and maintain water and nutrient uptake. New Phytologist, 225(3), 1111-1119. Link
Munns, R., Day, D. A., Fricke, W., Watt, M., Arsova, B., Barkla, B. J., Bose, J., Byrt, C.S., Chen, Z., Foster, K. J., Gilliham, M., Henderson, S. W., Jenkins, C. L. D., Kronzucker, H. J., Miklavcic, S. J., Plett, D., Roy, S. J., Shabala, S., Shelden, M. C., Soole, K. L. Taylor, N. L., Tester, M., Wege, S., Wegner, L. H., & Tyerman, S. D. (2020). Energy costs of salt tolerance in crop plants. New Phytologist, 225(3), 1072-1090. Link
He, F., Thiele, B., Watt, M., Kraska, T., Ulbrich, A., & Kuhn, A. J. (2019). Effects of root cooling on plant growth and fruit quality of cocktail tomato during two consecutive seasons. Journal of food quality, 2019. Link
Correa, J., Postma, J. A., Watt, M., & Wojciechowski, T. (2019). Root system architectural plasticity and soil compaction: a review. J. Exp. Bot., 70, 6019-6034. Link
Sasse, J., Kant, J., Cole, B. J., Klein, A. P., Arsova, B., Schlaepfer, P., Gao, J., Lewald, K., Zhalnina, K., Kosina, S., Bowen, B. P., Treen, D., Vogel, J., Visel, A., Watt, M., Dangl, J. L & Northern, T. R. (2019). Multilab EcoFAB study shows highly reproducible physiology and depletion of soil metabolites by a model grass. New Phytologist, 222(2), 1149-1160. Link
Kawasaki, A., Okada, S., Zhang, C., Delhaize, E., Mathesius, U., Richardson, A. E., Watt, M., Gilliham, M & Ryan, P. R. (2018). A sterile hydroponic system for characterising root exudates from specific root types and whole-root systems of large crop plants. Plant methods, 14(1), 1-13. Link
Arsova, B., Watt, M., & Usadel, B. (2018). Monitoring of plant protein post-translational modifications using targeted proteomics. Frontiers in plant science, 9, 1168. Link
Donn, S., Kawasaki, A., Delroy, B., Chochois, V., Watt, M., & Powell, J. R. (2017). Root type is not an important driver of mycorrhizal colonisation in Brachypodium distachyon. Pedobiologia, 65, 5-15. Link
Postma, J. A., Kuppe, C., Owen, M. R., Mellor, N., Griffiths, M., Bennett, M. J., Lynch, J. P., & Watt, M. (2017). OpenSimRoot: widening the scope and application of root architectural models. New Phytologist, 215(3), 1274-1286. Link
Carminati, A., Passioura, J. B., Zarebanadkouki, M., Ahmed, M. A., Ryan, P. R., Watt, M., & Delhaize, E. (2017). Root hairs enable high transpiration rates in drying soils. New Phytologist, 216(3), 771-781. Link
Kawasaki, A., Donn, S., Ryan, P. R., Mathesius, U., Devilla, R., Jones, A., & Watt, M. (2016). Microbiome and exudates of the root and rhizosphere of Brachypodium distachyon, a model for wheat. PloS one, 11(10), e0164533. Link
Gioia, T., Galinski, A., Lenz, H., Müller, C., Lentz, J., Heinz, K., Briese, C., Putz, A., Fiorani, F., Watt, M., Schurr, U., & Nagel, K. A. (2017). GrowScreen-PaGe, a non-invasive, high-throughput phenotyping system based on germination paper to quantify crop phenotypic diversity and plasticity of root traits under varying nutrient supply. Functional Plant Biology, 44(1), 76-93. Link
Ryan, P. R., Delhaize, E., Watt, M., & Richardson, A. E. (2016). Plant roots: understanding structure and function in an ocean of complexity. Link
Rich, S. M., Wasson, A. P., Richards, R. A., Katore, T., Prashar, R., Chowdhary, R., Saxena, D.C., Mamrutha, H. M., Zwart, A., Misra, S. C., Sai Prasad, S. V., Chatrath, R., Cristopher, J., & Watt, M. (2016). Wheats developed for high yield on stored soil moisture have deep vigorous root systems. Functional Plant Biology, 43(2), 173-188. Link
Schneebeli, K., Mathesius, U., Zwart, A. B., Bragg, J. N., Vogel, J. P., & Watt, M. (2016). Brachypodium distachyon genotypes vary in resistance to Rhizoctonia solani AG8. Functional plant biology, 43(2), 189-198. Link
Wasson, A., Bischof, L., Zwart, A., & Watt, M. (2016). A portable fluorescence spectroscopy imaging system for automated root phenotyping in soil cores in the field. Journal of Experimental Botany, 67(4), 1033-1043. Link
Chochois, V., Vogel, J. P., Rebetzke, G. J., & Watt, M. (2015). Variation in adult plant phenotypes and partitioning among seed and stem-borne roots across Brachypodium distachyon accessions to exploit in breeding cereals for well-watered and drought environments. Plant Physiology, 168(3), 953-967. Link
Nagel, K. A., Bonnett, D., Furbank, R., Walter, A., Schurr, U., & Watt, M. (2015). Simultaneous effects of leaf irradiance and soil moisture on growth and root system architecture of novel wheat genotypes: implications for phenotyping. Journal of experimental botany, 66(18), 5441-5452. Link
Fitzgerald, T. L., Powell, J. J., Schneebeli, K., Hsia, M. M., Gardiner, D. M., Bragg, J. N., McIntyre, C. L. Manners, J. M., Ayliffe, M., Watt, M., Vogel, J. P., Henry, R. J. & Kazan, K (2015). Brachypodium as an emerging model for cereal–pathogen interactions. Annals of Botany, 115(5), 717-731. Link
Schneebeli, K., Mathesius, U., & Watt, M. (2014). B rachypodium distachyon is a pathosystem model for the study of the wheat disease rhizoctonia root rot. Plant Pathology, 64(1), 91-100. Link
Donn, S., Kirkegaard, J. A., Perera, G., Richardson, A. E., & Watt, M. (2014). Evolution of bacterial communities in the wheat crop rhizosphere. Environmental microbiology, 17(3), 610-621. Link