Matthew Gilliham

Professor Matthew Gilliham

Chief Investigator, ARC Training Centre for Future Crops Development

Director, Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide

Matthew Gilliham

Areas of Research Interest –

Nutrition, stress tolerance, transport, signalling, drought, salinity, GABA signalling

Expertise & Skills –

Functional characterisation of transport and signalling pathways, crop transformation, electrophysiology

5 Key Research Papers –

• Xu B†, Long Y, Feng X, Zhu Z, Sai N, Chirkova L, Betts A, Herrmann J, Edwards EJ, Okamoto M, Hedrich R, Gilliham M§. (2021) GABA signalling modulates stomatal opening to enhance plant water use efficiency and drought resilience. Nat Commun 12:1952.
First genetic proof that GABA is a signalling molecule in a wide range of plants including crops, and signalling can be manipulated to reduce plant water use and improve drought tolerance.
• Gilliham M§, Able J, Roy SR. (2017) Translating knowledge about abiotic stress tolerance to breeding programmes. Plant J 90: 898–917.
Invited review that proposes and evaluates the potential of new strategies required to accelerate the deployment of fundamental science into breeding programs.
• Ramesh SR†, Tyerman SD†, Xu B, Bose J, Kaur S, Conn V, Domingos P, Ullah S, Wege S, Shabala S, Feijó JA, Ryan PR, Gilliham M§. (2015) GABA signalling modulates plant growth by directly regulating the activity of plant-specific anion transporters. Nat Commun 6: 7879.
Discovered a mechanism by which GABA acts as a plant signal, performed in wheat, led to the recent identification of new pathway with potential to improve in water use efficiency.
• Munns R, Gilliham M§. (2015) Salinity tolerance of crops — what is the cost? New Phyt 208: 668–673.
Novel synthesis of crop salt tolerance mechanisms & forerunner of another recent HiCite review.
• Munns RJ†, James RA†, Xu B†, Athman A, Conn SJ, Jordans C, Byrt CS, …, Gilliham M§. (2012) Wheat grain yield on saline soils is improved by an ancestral Na+ transporter gene. Nat Biotechnol 30: 360–364.

A world first; reintroduced genetic diversity into durum wheat using breeding, molecular biology, electrophysiology, and fieldwork to improve grain yield under saline conditions by 26%.

Available Research Projects –

• Enhancing salt tolerance in crop plants
• Improving drought resilience through novel signalling pathways
• Novel expression technology
• Plant targets – Wheat, Barley, Soybean, Duckweed, Arabidopsis


The ARC Training Centre for Accelerated Future Crops Development is funded by the Australian Research Council under its Industrial Transformation Training Hubs Program to run from 2022 to 2027.

It is a collaboration of universities, government research agencies and the Australian grains sector’s key stakeholders in training, R&D, social engagement, responsible innovation, breeding, marketing and delivery.

It also has international partners in gene-editing, SynBio, crop breeding, and, other partnerships for co-developing deep technologies to transform the agriculture industry and global food security.