A/Prof. David McCurdy
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 5879|
|Fax||(02) 4921 5472|
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||BG13, Biological Sciences|
Significant contributions to research field:
Transfer cell research: My contributions relative to this project are as a senior member of a team at Newcastle (with CI 2 A/Prof Christina Offler and including Prof John Patrick) producing internationally-competitive research on plant transfer cells. My research has used cell biological and EM techniques (Bulbert et al 1998 Protoplasma 201: 8-16; Talbot et al 2001, 2002, 2007; Vaughn et al 2007)) to provide new insights into the unique morphology of wall ingrowths in transfer cells, and is now using molecular genomics techniques to unravel the molecular regulation of both the induction of transfer cells (DP0664626 JP, DMcC, CO) and the building of reticulate papillate wall ingrowths (DP0556217 CO, DMcC; and this application). Our team is internationally recognized in this field of research as evidenced by invitation to author a major review on transfer cells (Offler et al 2003, Ann. Rev. Plant Biol.).
My specific input into studying transfer cell development includes co-supervising with A/P Offler the development of the dry-cleave procedure to visualize wall ingrowth morphology by SEM. This technique was instrumental in obtaining a detailed morphological understanding of how the complex wall ingrowth apparatus originates from discrete papillate projections of the parent wall (Talbot et al 2001), unlike other examples of localized wall deposition in plants, such as secondary wall thickenings. This technique was also used to define different categories of wall ingrowth morphology in transfer cells across the plant kingdom (Talbot et al 2002), and was used in our recent publication using Field Emission SEM to document for the first time a novel form of cellulose deposition which marks the initiation of wall ingrowth deposition (Talbot et al 2007). The use of this dry-cleave technique and related methodologies will contribute to achieving aspects of Aims 2 and 3 in this current application. My experience in molecular biology has also contributed heavily to successfully guiding implementation of the cDNA-AFLP which is identifying the complex levels of transcriptional regulation accompanying transfer cell development (see E3.4). When published, this new understanding of transfer cell biology will establish a paradigm shift in this field, away from the concept of identifying transfer cell-specific genes.
Other evidence of impact and contributions to the field:
Postgraduate Training: In the last 5 years I have co-supervised 4 PhD students to completion (Gear, Dibley, Talbot, Sheahan) each producing on average 3 major publications per thesis. One student (Sheahan) has been awarded an ARC-Post Doctoral Fellowship (2007-2009) to continue his research at Newcastle on organelle inheritance. Across this time I have also supervised or co-supervised 5 Honours students and two Masters students.
Conference Participation: I have a strong record of conference participation (48 abstracts since 1993), both national (ASPP, Annual General Meeting) and international (AmSPP, ICATP, Gordon Conf.), and presented invited Keynote lecture at Robertson Symp., Feb. 2000, Canberra.
Conference Organization: In my capacity as Cell Biology Rep (2007- ) for the Australian Society of Plant Physiologists (ASPP), I am on the ASPP Organizing Committee for ComBio 2007 (Sydney). This includes chairing the Symposia on Plant Cell Dynamics at this meeting.
Refereeing: I regularly referee for leading plant science journals (Plant Cell, Plant Journal, Plant Physiology, Planta, Functional Plant Biology, Protoplasma, Journal of Experimental Botany, Plant & Cell Physiol.) and have reviewed papers for both Cell Motil. Cytoskeleton and J. Neurobiology. I am regularly requested to review for national (ARC av. 2 grants/yr) and international granting agencies (NSF and USDA- av. 1.5 grants/yr for both; BSF, United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation). I have accepted the invitation from ARC to be an OzReader for 2007.
My contributions to the field of the plant cytoskeleton have been recognized by invitations to speak at the Gordon Conference on Plant and Fungal Cytoskeleton both personally and as a collaborative partner with Prof. CJ Staiger. I was invited to present a Keynote Address to the Robertson Symposium on Plant Cell Biology (Feb. 2000) to mark the retirement of Prof. B.E.S Gunning. I have been invited to write several reviews on the plant actin cytoskeleton, the most recent being a chapter contributing to an edited book on this topic (Actin: A Dynamic Framework For Multiple Plant Cell Functions. eds: CJ Staiger, F Baluska, D Volkmann & P Barlow) which has become a landmark text in this field.
Aspects of career:
Biotechnology Hexose transporters in tomato: With Prof. John Patrick (Plant Science Group, University of Newcastle) I have investigated the molecular biology of hexose transporters in developing tomato fruit. This research was supported by an ARC Large Grant (1996-1998) and more recently by an ARC-SPIRT Grant (2001-2004). This research has resulted to this point in two publications (Gear et al 2000, Dibley et al 2005) and establishment of an Australian Provisional Patent (#2006906647 Plants with increased hexose content Patrick, Dibley & McCurdy). Following establishment of the provisional patent (filing date: Nov 28, 2006), we are now preparing two manuscripts detailing this research. One, using RNAi technology, demonstrates for the first time the role of hexose transporters in regulating hexose uptake into tomato fruit, will be submitted to Plant Cell, while the second, using overexpression of heterologous transporters to achieve elevated hexose concentration in fruits, will be submitted to Nature Biotechnology.
Mechanisms of organelle inheritance in plants: I have also established a successful collaboration with A/Prof Ray Rose (Plant Science Group, University of Newcastle) investigating cytoskeletal regulation of organelle inheritance during plant cell division. This study formed the PhD research of Mr Michael Sheahan, and has provided the first evidence that plants use tightly regulated mechanisms to achieve accurate organelle partitioning at cell division. This research has resulted in 4 publications (Sheahan et al 2004a, 2004b, 2005, 2007) two reviews (Rose et al 2006a, 2006b, the latter an invited contribution to Encyclopedia of Life Sciences), and a third review (invited) in preparation. The Plant Journal paper has attracted widespread interest and was reviewed as a Faculty of 1000 publication (see B10.3), and the Plant Physiology paper introduced a new tool to visualize actin dynamics in plants which has now been adopted by the research community as the best available probe for this purpose.
- PhD, La Trobe University, 1984
- Bachelor of Science (Honours), La Trobe University, 1979
- Plant cell and molecular biology
Research expertise in plant cell and molecular biology, focusing on the plant cytoskelton, cell wall and mamebrane transporters.
Fields of Research
|060702||Plant Cell And Molecular Biology||70|
|060199||Biochemistry And Cell Biology Not Elsewhere Classified||15|
|060299||Ecology Not Elsewhere Classified||15|
Centres and Groups
Committee/Associations (relevant to research).
- American Society of Plant Biologists
- Cell Biology Representative - Australian Society of Plant Scientists
- Member, Organising Committee, ASPS ComBio 2007 - Australian Society of Plant Scientists
- The Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists
Student Academic Conduct Officer, Scholl of Environmental and Life Sciences
- Plant cell and molecular biology
Plant Cell and Molecular Biology, Plant Cell Development, Biomolecules, Advanced Laboratory Skills