GRDC honours PBI researcher

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Portrait of Dr Philip Davies

Research fellow Dr Philip Davies, Plant Breeding Institute, Narrabri, NSW.

PHOTO: Cox Inall

University of Sydney research fellow Dr Philip Davies has been awarded the GRDC Emerging Leader Award for 2016.

Based at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) at Narrabri, New South Wales, Dr Davies is now playing a leading role in GRDC-funded crown rot pre-breeding research. This research assesses the performance of individual breeding lines under crown rot conditions and paves the way for the development of varieties with enhanced crown rot resistance and tolerance.

Crown rot is caused by the fungus Fusarium pseudograminearum and is one of the most serious disease threats to winter cereal crops, costing northern growers about $80 million on average each year.

GRDC Northern Panel chair James Clark said the award recognised Dr Davies’s contribution to advancing genetic solutions to crown rot and communicating the importance and progress of the pre-breeding programs to the wider industry.

“Dr Davies is a great example of the GRDC’s funding of succession plans within industry and he’s continuing the work and techniques that were previously developed by his mentor, Dr Richard Trethowan,” Mr Clark said.

“Crown rot poses a serious challenge to the productivity and profitability of growers across the northern and southern regions.

“Combating this challenge requires a two-pronged attack – the development of germplasm with enhanced crown rot tolerance and resistance that can be delivered to commercial breeding companies, and improving crown rot management through targeted agronomy practices.

“Researchers such as Dr Davies will play a key role in the industry’s future management of crown rot and the GRDC has a responsibility to ensure that these researchers are well supported in their endeavours.”

After graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Sydney in 2006, Dr Davies completed a PhD and then accepted a GRDC-funded postdoctoral fellowship at PBI.

He has previously been involved in several research projects, including investigation into the influence of agronomic practices on the aetiology and epidemiology of Fusarium head blight in northern NSW, and establishing the epidemiological relationship between crown rot and Fusarium head blight pathogens.

More information:

Sarah Jeffrey, Cox Inall Communications,


Genetic resources sceened for disease resistance


RLEM resistance management strategies

GRDC Project Code US00075

Region North