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Dr Louise Thatcher

Principal Research Scientist


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Dr Thatcher is Team Leader of Microbial Technologies, a dynamic and collaborative team focused on the synergic use and establishment of innovative technologies for the discovery, development and deployment of beneficial microbes and microbial-derived products for crop protection, plant health and sustainable production. From microbe(biome) to natural products.

The team focuses on both applied research to deliver industry specific outcomes, as well as basic strategic research to develop novel approaches for enhancing the durability and the efficacy of microbial biological control agents and their biopesticide molecules, and how we can integrate these into current and future farming practics. These research approaches involve a broad range of disciplines from comparative -omics, analytical chemistry, microbial engineering and fermentation systems, plant genetics, plant pathology, and field trial evaluation over multi-environments.

Dr Thatcher's research encompasses:
* Biological control of crop diseases through beneficial soil microbes and endophytes, and the bioactive compounds they produce.
* Omics-based platforms for microbial natural product discovery.
* Microbial engineering.
* Microbiome studies and applying this knowledge to develop new crop protection strategies.
* Crop pre-breeding research for improved disease resistance and agronomic traits.

Join the team:
Louise is always looking for talented new team members. Please make contact via email.

Dr Thatcher obtained a BSc (1st class Hons, 1999) and PhD (2007) in microbiology and plant molecular biology from the University of Western Australia. Her Honours studies focused on biocontrol of bacterial diseases in aquaculture, and her PhD research examined genes controlling pathogen defense and stress responses in the model plant Arabidopsis. She completed two Postdoctoral Fellowships within CSIRO Plant Industry (Brisbane, Perth) focusing on pathogenicity mechanisms of Fusarium wilt members, plant resistance and the roles of jasmonate signalling.

From 2014 Dr Thatcher was Team Leader of Break Crop Genomics with a Focus on Disease where she developed Fusarium pathogenomics and molecular plant pathology research in legumes and canola. From 2015 Dr Thatcher combined her molecular plant pathology research with biological control and led the Crop Biologics Team. In 2019 she relocated to CSIRO Canberra and led the Crop Protection Group. She currently leads a biologicals crop protection science area in CSIRO Ag&F.

Over the last 5 years she has attracted over $5.5M in direct or competitive funding as lead, and a further $4.8M as co-lead. In addition to her biologicals-based strategies for crop protection and improving yield, Dr Thatcher has an ongoing research interest in genetic strategies for crop disease resistance.

Other Interests

Mountain biking, bush walking, growing veges and catching up with friends.

Current Roles

  • Team Leader
    Microbial Techologies

  • Co-Project Leader
    Bioinsecticide discovery

  • Project Leader
    Biocontrol Strain Improvement

  • Project Leader
    Phyllosphere microbiomes in crop protection

  • Committee Member
    Ag&F Womens Mentoring Network

Academic Qualifications

  • 2007

    PhD (Plant molecular biology)
    University of Western Australia

  • 1999

    Bsc, Hons (1st class) (Microbiology)
    University of Western Australia

Professional Experiences

  • 2022-current

    Associate Editor
    MPMI (Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions)

  • 2020-2024

    Associate Editor
    Plant Molecular Biology

  • Aug 2023-Aug 2023

    Visiting Scientist
    USDA Cereal Disease Laboratory

  • 2019-2021

    Group Leader - Crop Protection

  • May 2019-Aug 2019

    Visiting Scientist
    Molecular Microbiology Department, John Innes Centre

  • July 2019-July 2019

    Visiting Scientist
    Plant Pathology Research Unit, INRA

  • 2012-2017

    Research Scientist

  • 2010-2013

    OCE (Office of the Chief Executive) Postdoctoral Fellowship

  • 2007-2010

    OCE (Office of the Chief Executive) Postdoctoral Fellowship

  • Jan 2007-June 2007

    Research Associate

Achievements and Awards

  • 2019-2019

    INRA-CSIRO exchange scheme award

  • 2018-2020

    Julius Career Award
    CSIRO Research Office

  • 2017-2017

    Agriculture and Food Director’s Award in the category ‘Inclusion & Diversity’ (Team award)

  • 2015-2015

    AW Howard Memorial Trust Study Grant
    AW Howard Memorial Trust

  • 2012-2012

    Science Communication Award (Team)
    CSIRO Plant Industry

Other highlights

  • 2016-2016

    ON Innovation Program - Lean Launch Pad Team Leader - Rotstopper biologicals

  • 2017-2017

    ON Innovation Program - ONPrime4 team member - New Traits in Canola


  • 2022-2025

    CSIRO R+ CERC - Biocontrol strain improvement

  • 2021-2024

    CRC-P with industry, Pre-commercial pilot trial of novel biofungicide

  • 2018-2022

    Biofungicide development with industry

  • 2021-2024

    CSIRO Microbiome Future Science Platform - Plant Health (Vadakattu, Thatcher, Barrett)

  • 2018-2021

    CSIRO R+ CERC - Advancing microbe assisted crop protection through plant immune-biosensors and omics-guided compound discovery (Thatcher, Singh)

  • 2018-2018

    COGGO Research Fund - Assessment of entomopathogenic fungi (Jacques, Thatcher)

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2018-2019

    Floor Fire Safety Warden

  • 2015-2018

    Deputy Floor Fire Safety Warden

  • 2016-present

    Participant in SAGE and STEM discussion groups, and hosting STEM students

We have publications by Dr Louise Thatcher