On today’s AHRI Snapshots, we’re catching up with our newest AHRI team member, Dr Candy Taylor!
Candy has recently joined the team as a Research Associate. She’s going to be looking at understanding auxinic herbicide resistance dynamics.
This work is being supported by an ARC Linkage grant, with additional investment from Nufarm. This was successfully secured by AHRI’s Dr Danica Goggin and former AHRI Director Professor Stephen Powles.
So, for a little bit of background on Candy, she obtained her PhD in 2019 in the area of plant genetics and pre-breeding here at UWA and most recently worked as a UWA Graduate Research Assistant with Wallace Cowling and Janine Croser.
We're excited to have her on the team! Take a listen to learn more.
You're listening to AHRI snapshots, where each fortnight we chat about the science behind the wheel, and decodes some of the trickier concepts. On today's AHRI snapshot we're catching up with the latest ra team member Dr. Candy Taylor. Candy has recently joined the team as a research associate. She's going to be looking at understanding auxinic herbicide resistance dynamics. And this work has been supported by an ARC linkage grant with additional investment from Nufarm. So this was successfully secured by AHRI's Dr. Danica Goggin, and former AHRI director Professor Stephen Powles. So firstly, before we jump into this podcast chat with candy, a little bit of background on her so she obtained her PhD in 2019 in the area of plant genetics and pre breeding here ewe and most recently worked as a UWA graduate research assistant with Wallace Cowling and Janine Croser. She does join me now. Hey, how are you going, Candy?Candy Taylor:
I'm good. Thanks, Jess.Jessica Strauss:
Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. And as all new staff members now I know they do have to get roped into first initial conversation with me on the podcast and it will be the first of many, I'm sure. But let's start at the beginning to give everyone a bit of context around your background. We did mention in the intro there that you did your PhD in plant genetics and pre breeding. I know myself you've got a real affinity for levens. Can you give us a rundown of what you've looked at in your PhD and just a bit of an overview? So for my PhD I was looking at genetic regulation of flowering time in narrowleaf sleeping and I did my PhD under the supervision of Wallace Cowling who is a plant breeder based at UWA. Two geneticists, so Matthew Nelson from CSIRO Lars Kamphuis. He's got a joint appointment with CSIRO and Curtin and Jens Berger, who's eco physiologist at CSIRO as well. It was a really good project. So Lupin is the main legume grain in Western Australia. And Australia produces roughly 80% of the world's Lupin so, WA in particular is a big producer worldwide of lupins. And it's also got a special history with WA, here at UWA, Dr. Don Gladstone's was involved in finishing the domestication of the species. So there's a neat little relationship and tie with UWA. Anyway, one of the important steps in domestication of lupins was removing this process called vernalization. So in wild lupins, they've got this process called vernalization, where they need prolonged exposure to cold temperature during winter, they're a Mediterranean winter annual plan. And without that, they either flower really lately or may not flower at all. And so this was sort of a barrier for agricultural production in cropping systems and finding mutations that get around vernalization requirement is important. But the mutations that we currently use in breeding mean that there's little diversity for flowering time, and all of the different varieties that elite and currently in use in Australia flower roughly about the same time. And this is problematic for a couple of reasons. So the first is that they're well suited to Northern Western Australian farming regions, but less so southern regions, and they could be achieving higher yields if there's slightly more variation in crops for our a bit later. The other reason that we want a bit more diversity is because of changing agronomic practices. So at the moment, just to accommodate the increasing scale of farming sizes, and also to capitalise on early rainfall, which is becoming more and common and season. If we had earlier flowering, it just gives farmers a bit more flexibility. And they can incorporate lupin crops more easily. And so yeah, we were looking at genetic regulation of hang time via the vernalization pathway. And it was good fun, yep! Very interesting. And I like to little historical facts included in there as well, Candy thanks for sharing that with us. That's really interesting. And we are very excited to have you on the team and our you'll be working closely with Dr. Danica Goggin, on the infamously complex topic of auxinic herbicides. So can you give us a crash course in what your new role involves?Candy Taylor:
So I am also still sort of wrapping my head around it. It is quite complex. So we're going to be looking more into the molecular side of how auxins are perceived in wild radish plants and trying to compare how resistant plants perceive them versus susceptible plants. So auxins are natural herbicides and they're not inherently bad, but when they supplied high concentration, they become toxic and cause a series of events that affect normal processes and ultimately kill the plants because they regulate so many different, pretty much every aspect of plant development and growth. They interact with a lot of other hormones and are involved pretty much everywhere. So very complex genetic pathway, pretty much. So it's going to be interesting and a bit of a head scratcher. At the moment, Danica has been doing a lot of work on 2,4-D. And so far, it looks like most of the populations that she's studying don't have metabolism related mechanisms for resistance. So by that I mean that they're not sort of breaking down the chemical and removing it before it becomes toxic. Instead, it looks like they might be doing something different with their perception. So there's seems to be a correlation between the presence of a few different proteins in plasma membrane. So the plasma membranes just sort of like a bag that holds the cell together pretty much. So there are proteins embedded in there. And at the moment, we think that resistant plants might have a different makeup of protein. So different type or different abundance of proteins, that they're either enabling the plants to initiate defence mechanisms earlier than susceptible plants, or they're just a little bit more blind to the Hawks and being present. So I mean, certainly if they can detect it that the toxins become a problem. So maybe they're less able to detect their presence a bit more protected from the overall toxic effects.Jessica Strauss:
Very interesting Candy, and it sounds like you're pretty full bottle on it. That was a great explanation. So you are a keen researcher and having just prior to your role with AHRI, worked on narrow leaf, Lupin and chickpea phenology projects. What drew you to this role at AHRI, it's a bit different, what was the what was the factors that made you want to jump in the deep end?Candy Taylor:
So there are two main reasons that I was attracted to the role at AHRI, the first one was the people. So I think one of the main reasons that I love my PhD so much was because I had a really good group of supervisors behind me. And they're fun to work with on a day to day basis, but really invested in not just my project, but in my personal development. And so as an early career researcher, I will tell you that quite strongly having a good support team. And I was lucky to interact with pretty much everyone at AHRI, at least on a social level during my PhD. And you guys very good bunch. And yeah, I thought that I'd have a very good environment where I can go and enjoy my work here. So that was probably one of the main reasons. The other one is that I think it's a really good way to expose myself to new areas in science. So at the moment, I love my topic, but I've spent seven years looking at flowering time in Lupin, and that's pretty much been it. I think joining the AHRI team and working with Danica into 2,4-D and auxins gives me good exposure to new laboratory, analytical methods and skills. And I think it could really help broaden my horizons. And yeah, it's good to work from a geneticists point of view. It's good to work with different species and just gives you a bit of insight into how different species behave and different things that you should be considering when designing projects and things like that. Just good way to grow as a scientist to expand. Very good thought process behind it can do well finally, I just wanted to ask you why this work on auxenic herbicide resistance is such an important area to focus on. Obviously, wehave had Danica Goggin on the podcast previously talk about it, but I think it is one of those complex areas, it's always good to refresh people's memories on why this is an important area of research, can you give us a bit of an overview? So auxins and specifically 2,4-D is the oldest herbicide on the block. And we've come to really rely on them as other herbicides have become less effective over time with resistance building resistance seems to be a bit slower in terms of buildup, with oxygen herbicides, but our alliance is going to increase on them, particularly if event rates that glyphosate becomes banned in Australia through societal pressure as it's doing overseas. So we tend to rely on them a bit more. And it's important that we understand their mode of action and how they're operating and how populations are developing resistance and it will just prepare us and make sure that we're best equipped to preserve these herbicides and keep them functioning as long as possible. It's also appealing to me but if the herbicides are more effective than farmers have to spend less money, less time spraying herbicides and we sort of reduce the amount of herbicide residue that's released into the environment. So that sort of same feeling to me.Jessica Strauss:
Great response there Candy, and thank you for coming out why it's such an important area of research. And thank you so much for coming on AHRI snapshots for the first ti e were so excited to have you n the team. And that was a gre t introduction to where you' e come from and what you're goi g to be doing with AHRI. So th nk you so much for taking the ti