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WRI Seminar – Dr Mark Waters

Mar 16, 2023, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Dr Mark Waters

School of Molecular Sciences, University of Western Australia

Butenolide signalling in plants and bacteria

Time: 11AM, Thursday 16th March

Location: McLeod Theatre


Chemical signals, such as hormones, are crucial for coordinating plant development in the context of a variable environment. Butenolides are a class of small compounds that include endogenous strigolactone hormones as well as exogenous karrikins from burnt plant material. However, there is considerable genetic evidence in plants that additional, unidentified bioactive butenolides exist in plants that regulate seed germination, seedling photomorphogenesis, abiotic stress tolerance and symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Unexpectedly, bacteria of the Firmicute class (e.g. Bacillus subtilis) possess homologues of the plant butenolide receptors and are sensitive to many butenolide compounds that are also bioactive in plants, suggesting that butenolides are ancient signalling molecules that may pre-date the plant kingdom. In this talk I will discuss the evidence for yet-to-be-discovered butenolides, how their activity might be regulated, and how we might apply this knowledge to improve plant performance.

About the speaker

Mark Waters hails from the UK with an undergraduate degree from the University of Oxford and a PhD from the University of Nottingham. After a postdoc stint in Oxford, in 2010 he ventured to the southern hemisphere to continue his research career at the University of Western Australia, initially as a postdoc under the guidance of Prof Steven Smith. During this time, he discovered and characterised the karrikin receptor protein in plants. In 2015 he was awarded the Peter Goldacre medal from the Australian Society of Plant Scientists, and in 2016 he received an ARC Future Fellowship to launch an independent research group at UWA. He now leads a small team of eight researchers working on various aspects of chemical signalling in plants and bacteria, with specific interests in protein structural biology, photobiology and good old-fashioned molecular genetics.


Mar 16, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Waite Research Institute


Charles Hawker McLeod Lecture Theatre
Waite Rd
Urrbrae, SA 5064
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