Dr Peter Dodds

Science Leader

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Dr Dodds' focus is on fungal rust diseases, which constitute one of the most significant threats to cereal crops worldwide. The recent emergence of the highly virulent wheat stem rust strain Ug99 is of particular concern to world food security.
Dr Dodds' research has used the pathogenic interaction between flax and the flax rust fungus as a model for understanding the basis of rust disease as well as host resistance mechanisms.
Disease resistance in this system is governed by the gene-for-gene model, where resistance depends on an interaction between host resistance (R) genes pathogen avirulence (Avr) genes.
Host R proteins constitute the recognition components of the plant innate immunity system and function to recognise specific proteins produced by the pathogen, the Avr proteins, and then induce a localised defence response that prevents infection.
Our work in the model system identified rust Avr proteins as members of a class of small secreted proteins that are translocated into host cells during infection as disease effectors that promote infection. Recently we have been extending these observations into cereal rusts, and identifying Avr genes from wheat stem rust, Puccinia graminis fsp tritici.
Current work focuses on:
• molecular basis of recognition of rust Avr proteins by plant R proteins
• the mechanism of R protein activation and signalling in model and crop plants
• identification of wheat stem rust avirulence genes
• translocation of rust effector proteins into the plant cell
• function of rust effectors in disease.

Academic Qualifications

  • 1991

    University of Melbourne

  • 1996

    University of Melbourne

Achievements and Awards

  • 2004

    CSIRO Medal

  • 2006

    Peter Goldacre Award
    Australian Society of Plant Scientists

  • 2007

    Fenner Medal
    Australian Academy of Science

  • 2012

    Australian Academy of Science

  • 2013

    Gene Stewardship Award
    Borlaug Global Rust Initiative

  • 2016

    Highly Cited Researcher
    Thompson Reuters/Clarivate Analytics

  • 2017

    CSIRO Chairman's Medal

  • 2018-

    Highly Cited Researcher
    Thompson Reuters/Clarivate Analytics


We have publications by Dr Peter Dodds