Dr Pip Wilson B.Sc.(Hons), Ph.D., Dip.Ed.

Dr Pip Wilson B.Sc.(Hons), Ph.D., Dip.Ed.

Academic Position at the ANU: Postdoctoral Fellow

Role in lab: Collaborating on IWYP EUE grant

ANU contact information: email pip.wilson@anu.edu.au, Phone: 02 6197 0053

Areas of expertise:

  • Applying knowledge gained from molecular and physiological studies to improving yields in the field.
  • Past experience in this area ranges from molecular studies of drought tolerance in Arabidopsis to field trials of wheat physiology using large pre-breeding populations to genome wide association mapping in Brachypodium.


Current Research:

To meet worldwide wheat grain demands, the rate of yield increase needs to double by 2050. One underexplored area is the potential to increase crop yields by increasing the energy use efficiency in crops such as wheat. In particular, by applying our molecular and physiological knowledge of respiration and photosynthesis, there is potential to identify wheat varieties that have the most beneficial combinations of traits to increase biomass and yield. Whereas this trait has been difficult to measure in the past, new technology now exists that will allow rapid screening of respiration of field grown materials. This capacity is being utilised to improve energy use efficiency in wheat as part of a new GRDC funded international collaboration. The project is part of the International Wheat Yield Partnership, and will be run between CIMMYT, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide and the Australian National University involving 7 Chief Investigators and 7 postdoctoral researchers. My current role is as a project manager and researcher in this interdisciplinary project that will combine crop physiology, population genetics, metabolomics, proteomics and bioinformatics to achieve its goals.


Dr Pip Wilson obtained her BSc (Advanced) from Sydney University, completing her honours at ANU under the supervision of Professor Barry Pogson, which looked at systemic signalling of high light stress in Arabidopsis. Pip obtained her PhD in the same group, focussing on the positional cloning, and molecular and physiological characterisation of the water stress tolerant Arabidopsis mutant, alx8.

Following completion of her PhD, Pip has held Postdoctoral Fellowships at both the ANU and CSIRO, primarily focussing on traits that confer phenotypic plasticity under drought stress in cereal crops such as rice and wheat, and more recently Brachypodium. In addition to her research, Pip has also supervised PhD candidates, technicians and summer research scholars and being an Education Officer for CSIRO.

Research in the Borevitz Lab:

Dr Wilson’s research in the Borevitz Lab aimed to identify the genetic basis for agriculturally relevant traits using genome wide association in the model grass Brachypodium. This work was a interdisciplinary collaboration within the Borevitz Lab; involving contributions from Jared Streich, Kurt Spokas, Tim Brown, Kevin Murray, Norman Warthmann, Riyan Cheng and Justin Borevitz. The aims were achieved by:

  • Collecting as many diverse Brachypodium lines from around the world as possible to develop a well balanced HapMap set for Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS).
  • Using SolarCalc climate modelling software to mimic Australian climate types, now and in the future, in growth chambers to link favourable phenotypes with associated genotypes. These conditions include circannual (seasonal) as well as diurnal patterns of temperature, humidity, light quantity and spectrum.
  • Phenotyping growth, fitness and energy traits and performing GWAS to identify putative causative loci.



“Part of the global Brachypodium collection growing at the ANU greenhouses”


Field trials at Temora, NSW, 2011

Past projects with associated publications and grants:

Genetic Architecture of Natural Variation

Rungrat, T., Awila, M., Brown, T., Cheng, R., Sirault, X., Fajkus, J., Trtilek, M., Furbank, B., Badger, M., Tester, M., Pogson, B.J., Borevitz, J.O., and Wilson, P.B. 2016. Using phenomic analysis of photosynthetic function for abiotic stress response gene discovery. The Arabidopsis Book, in press

Wilson, P.B., Streich, J.C. and Borevitz, J., 2015, Genomic Diversity and Climate Adaptation inBrachypodium. Chapter in: Genetics and Genomics of Brachypodium, Ed: John Vogel

Wheat Physiology and Drought Tolerance

Wilson, P.B., Rebetzke, G.R. and Condon, A.G., 2015, Of growing importance: combining greater early vigour and transpiration efficiency for wheat in variable rainfed environments. Functional Plant Biology, 42(12): 1107-1115

Wilson, P.B., Rebetzke, G.R. and Condon, A.G., 2015, Pyramiding genes for greater early vigour and transpiration efficiency in bread wheat I. Germplasm development and early growth, Field Crop Research,183: 102-110

ACIAR Project CIM/2005/111: More effective water use by rain fed wheat in China and Australia, at the CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra. 1 paper still in preparation

Molecular Responses to Abiotic Stress and the Development of Drought Tolerance in Plants

Wilson*, P.B., Estavillo*, G.M., Field, K.J., Pornsiriwong, W., Carroll, A.J., Howell, K.A., Woo, N.S., Lake, J.A., Smith, S.M., Millar, A.H., von Caemmerer, S. and Pogson, B.J., 2009, The nucleotidase/phosphatase SAL1 is a negative regulator of drought tolerance in Arabidopsis, The Plant Journal, 58(2): 299 * – equal first author

Rossel*, J.B., Wilson*, P.B., Hussain*, D., Mewett, O.P., Howell, K., Gordon, M., Whelan J., Kazan, K. and Pogson, B.J., 2007, Systemic and intracellular photoprotective responses to oxidative stress, Plant Cell, 19: 4091 * – equal first author

Pogson, BJ, Wilson, PB and Rossel, JB, 2007, Methods for improving stress resistance in plants and materials therefor. Australian Patent.

Rossel, J.B., Walter (now Wilson), P.B., Hendrickson, L., Chow, W.S., Poole, A., Mullineaux, P.M. and Pogson, B.J., 2006, A mutation affecting ASCORBATE PEROXIDASE 2 gene expression reveals a link between responses to high light and drought tolerance, Plant Cell and Environment, 29: 269


Junior Research Fellowship and Technical Assistance Grant funded by Meat and Livestock Association (2004 – 2007).

Australian Postgraduate Award (2004 – 2007).