Dr Anna Koltunow

Asexual Seed Formation Team And Project Leader

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Biography

Dr Anna Koltunow is an internationally recognised expert in fruit and seed formation in plants, in particular apomixis (an asexual form of seed formation in plants). This research is being applied to a range of crops where it should significantly economise hybrid seed production.

Her work has led to the understanding of mechanisms controlling seedless fruit formation and produced seedless fruit in tomato and citrus. She has identified similarities and differences in the mechanisms controlling apomixis and sexual seed formation by developing and using an apomict species, where remarkably, female gametes form without meiosis allowing seeds to develop in the absence of paternal fertilisation.

Koltunow’s discoveries are being used in developing countries to create crops with transformational productivity improvements, such as self-reproducing cowpea and sorghum. This five year humanitarian project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has the potential to help millions of farmers become more self-sufficient with higher yielding crops.

Anna held a postdoctoral position at the CSIRO Division of Horticulture studying molecular characteristics of grapevine viroids before traveling to the University of California in the USA to study gene expression during anther development. Returning to CSIRO as an Australian Research Council (ARC) Fellow, Anna initiated the research program in sexual and asexual seed and fruit formation in plants and worked with a number of laboratories in the USA, Europe, Japan, China, India and Brazil.

Throughout her career Anna has played a significant leadership role, both within CSIRO serving two terms as Deputy Chief of Plant Industry, and in the wider research community as a director on various Boards including Crown Research Institutes in New Zealand and President of the International Plant Reproduction Society. She is an affiliate Professor at Capital Normal University in China, and the University of Adelaide and La Trobe University in Australia. Anna has also been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Current Roles

  • Team Leader
    Asexual Seed Formation

  • Major Project Leader
    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Capturing Heterosis

Academic Qualifications

  • B Sc (First Class Honours)
    Flinders University

  • PhD in Biochemistry
    The University of Adelaide

Professional Experiences

  • 2002-2010

    President
    International Association of Plant Sexual Reproduction Research

  • 1997-2001

    Board
    International Society for Plant Molecular Biology

  • Affiliate Professor
    School of Agriculture and Wine at the University of Adelaide

  • 2003-2006

    Deputy Chief
    CSIRO Plant Industry

  • 2005-2008

    Director
    Board of HortResearch

  • 2009-2016

    Affiliate Professor
    LaTrobe University

  • Chair
    National Horticultural Research Network

  • Board
    Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Viticulture

  • 2010-2012

    Panel Member
    Australian Research Council College of Experts, Biology and Biotechnology Pane

  • 2002-2016

    Affiliate Professor
    University of Adelaide School of Agriculture and wine

  • 2008-2016

    Affiliate Professor
    Capital Normal University China

  • 2013-2014

    Deputy Chief
    CSIRO Plant Industry

  • 2008-2009

    Director
    NZ Insitute of Plant and Food Research

  • 2009-2009

    Chair
    Review Panel National Wine Grape and Industry Centre