Message from the Director

Murray Badger 11

Our second newsletter comes at an exciting time for Australian science with the release of the Turnbull led Liberal government’s new science innovation policy. This policy places increased emphasis on the importance of science research in translating cutting edge basic science into useful innovation to drive economic and social improvements in Australia. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis has embodied these principles from its inception and a number of the feature articles in the edition of the Leaf to Field newsletter highlight this.

On the international front, consortia established to secure our food supply by improving photosynthesis have had a boost with the funding of two projects in which the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis plays a key role. The first of these builds on our research in high throughput screening of photosynthetic traits in wheat, funded by the International Wheat Yield Partnership / Grains Research and Development Corporation with the UK and Mexico. Second, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced 4 years of funding for phase 3 of the C4 Rice Consortium, an international effort to install a C4 photosynthetic engine in rice. Both these projects highlight our focus on interacting with industry partners to translate our science into real world outcomes.

On the accolades front, October saw the awarding of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize to one of our primary Chief Investigators, Professor Graham Farquhar. This is Australia’s highest science prize and this award recognised Graham’s outstanding achievements in a number of important areas including his contributions to translating his photosynthesis research into improved water use efficiency in wheat and other important crops, most notably resulting in a commercial wheat variety. Graham’s research has been has inspired many aspects of the new field of Translational Photosynthesis as a model of how basic research can be translated into agricultural outcomes and products.

Also in this issue is an article on chlorophyll fluorescence measurement techniques providing an example of how basic science in understanding aspects of primary photosynthetic reactions can lead to the development of innovative instrumentation which is now widely used to measure photosynthesis in leaves in the field. This technology is playing an important role in efforts using Phenomics to breed for improved photosynthesis in crops.

I hope you enjoy this newsletter exploring our research and activities in the field of translational photosynthesis.







Professor Murray Badger, Director