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Mark Tester

Professor, Plant Science
 

Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division


The Salt Lab

Education Profile

  • ​​​​​​​​Ph.D., Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, U.K., 1988
  • B.Sc., Plant Sciences, University of Adelaide, Australia, 1984

Research Interests


The immediate aim of Professor Tester's research program is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that enable certain plants to thrive in sub-optimal soil conditions, such as those of high salinity or high temperature.  In our research group, forward and reverse genetic approaches are used to understand and manipulate traits that contribute to salinity tolerance and improve this in crops such as barley, tomatoes and quinoa.

​One intellectual aim is to understand the co-ordination of whole plant function through processes occurring at the level of single cells, particularly through processes of long-distance communication within plants. This aim is being addressed by integrating genetic and genomic approaches with a broad-based understanding of plant physiology in both controlled conditions and the field.

An immediate applied aim of the program is to modify crop plants in order to increase productivity in conditions of challenging abiotic stress, with consequent improvement of yield in Saudi Arabia, the region and globally. A larger aspiration is to unlock seawater, by developing a new economically viable agricultural system where salt-tolerant crops are irrigated with partially desalinised seawater or brackish groundwater.

Selected Publications

  • Saade, S., Maurer, A., Shahid, M., Oakey, H., Schmöckel, S.M., Negrão, S., Pillen, K. & Tester, M. (2016) Yield-related salinity tolerance traits identified in a nested association mapping (NAM) population of wild barley. Scientific Reports 6: 32586. doi: 10.1038/srep32586
  • Al-Tamimi, N., Brien, C., Oakey, H., Berger, B., Saade, S., Ho, Y.S., Schmöckel, S.M., Tester, M. & Negrão, S. (2016) Salinity tolerance loci revealed in rice using high-throughput non-invasive phenotyping. Nature Communications 7, 13342.  doi: 10.1038/ncomms13342
  • Ward, B., Bastian, J., van den Hengel, A., Pooley, D., Bari, R., Berger, B. & Tester, M. (2015) A model-based approach to recovering the structure of a plant from images. In: L. Agapito et al. (eds.): Computer Vision - European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV) 2014 Workshops, Part IV, Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) 8928, pp. 215–230. Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-16220-1 16
  • Schilling R.K., Marschner, P., Shavrukov, Y., Berger, B., Tester, M., Roy, S.J. & Plett, D.C. (2014) Expression of the Arabidopsis vacuolar H+-pyrophosphatase gene (AVP1) improves the shoot biomass of transgenic barley and increases grain yield in a saline field. Plant Biotechnology Journal 12: 378–386. DOI: 10.1111/pbi.12145
  • Munns, R., James, R.A., Xu B., Athman, A., Jordans, C., Conn, S.J., Byrt, C.S., Hare, R.A., Tyerman, S.D., Tester, M., Plett, D. & Gilliham, M. (2012) Grain yield of modern wheat on saline soils is improved by ancestral HKT gene. Nature Biotechnology 30: 360–364
  • Tester, M. & Langridge, P. (2010) Breeding technologies to increase crop production in a changing world. Science 327: 818-822 (invited review)
  • Møller, I.S., Gilliham, M., Jha, D., Mayo, G.M., Roy, S.J., Coates, J.C., Haseloff, J. & Tester, M. (2009) Shoot Na+ exclusion and increased salinity tolerance engineered by cell type-specific manipulation of Na+ transport in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 21: 2163–2178
  • Munns, R. & Tester, M. (2008) Salinity tolerance in higher plants. Annual Reviews of Plant Biology 59: 651-681