The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

Ipsum Lorem

Martha Ludwig

Assoc/Prof Martha Ludwig

Associate Professor
Molecular Sciences, School of

Contact details
School of Molecular Sciences
The University of Western Australia (M310)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 3744
+61 8 6488 1148
Room 305, Bayliss Building, Perth campus
BSc Smith Coll. Mass., PhD McG.
Dr Martha Ludwig completed a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Biological Sciences, at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She moved to McGill University in Montreal to do post-graduate work that examined how chloroplasts evolved from eukaryotic symbionts in Chlorarachnion and the cryptomonad algae. She then looked at cell surface antigens in various groups of algae as a post-doctoral fellow at The University of Melbourne. Dr Ludwig also undertook post-doctoral research studying CO2 concentrating mechanisms, including the evolution of the C4 photosynthetic pathway and cyanobacterial CO2 mechanisms, at The Queensland University of Technology and in the Research School of Biological Sciences at The Australian National University. She was a lecturer at The Australian National University and Macquarie University,before moving to The University of Western Australia in 2003. Her research focuses on the molecular evolution, biochemistry and genetics of C4 photosynthesis in mono- and dicotyledonous plants.
Key research
The molecular evolution of C4 photosynthesis.
Stata, M., Sage, T.L., Rennie, T.D., Khoshravesh, R., Sultmanis, S. Khaikin, Y., Ludwig, M. Sage, R.F. (2014) Mesophyll cells of C4 plants have fewer chloroplasts than those of closely related C3 plants. Plant Cell Environ. DOI 10.1111/pce.12331

Bougoure, J., Ludwig, M., Brundrett, M., Cliff, J., Clode, P., Kilburn, M., Grierson, P. (2014) High resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis of carbon dynamics in mycorrhizas formed by an obligately myco-heterotrophic orchid. Plant Cell Environ. DOI: 10.1111/pce.12230

Dathan, N.A., Alterio, V., Troiano, E., Vullo, D., Ludwig, M., De Simone, G., Supuran, C.T., Monti, S.M. (2014) Biochemical characterization of the chloroplastic β-carbonic anhydrase from Flaveria bidentis (L.) ‘‘Kuntze’’. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem 29: 500-504

Ludwig, M. (2013) Evolution of the C4 photosynthetic pathway: Events at the cellular and molecular levels. Photosyn Res 117: 147-161

Monti, S.M., De Simone, G., Dathan, N.A., Ludwig, M., Vullo, D., Scozzafava, A., Capasso, C., Supuran, C.T. (2013) Kinetic and anion inhibition studies of a β-carbonic anhydrase (FbiCA 1) from the C4 plant Flaveria bidentis. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 23: 1626-1630.

Rich, S.M., Pedersen, O., Ludwig, M., Colmer, T.D. (2013) Shoot atmospheric contact is of little importance to aeration of deeper portions of the wetland plant Meionectes brownii; submerged organs mainly acquire O2 from the water column or produce it endogenously in underwater photosynthesis. Plant Cell Environ 36: 213-223.

Christin, PA., Wallace, M.J., Clayton, H., Edwards, E.J., Furbank, R.T., Hattersley, P.W., Sage, R.F., Macfarlane, T.D., Ludwig, M. (2012) Multiple photosynthetic transitions, polyploidy, and lateral gene transfer in the grass subtribe Neurachninae. J Exp Bot 63: 6297-6308.

Rich, S.M., Ludwig, M., Colmer, T.D. (2012) Aquatic adventitious root development in partially- and completely-submerged wetland plants Cotula coronopifolia and Meionectes brownii. Ann Bot 110: 405-414.

Ludwig, M. (2012) Carbonic anhydrase and the molecular evolution of C4 photosynthesis. Invited Review. Plant Cell Environ 35: 22-37.

McLean, E.H., Ludwig, M., Grierson, P.F. (2011) Root hydraulic conductance and aquaporin abundance respond rapidly to partial root-zone drying events in a riparian Melaleuca species. New Phytol 192: 664-675.

Ludwig, M. (2011) The molecular evolution of β-carbonic anhydrase in Flaveria. J Exp Bot 62: 3071-3081.

Rich, S.M., Ludwig, M., Pedersen, O., Colmer, T.D. (2011) Aquatic adventitious roots of the
wetland plant Meionectes brownii can photosynthesize: implications for root function during flooding. New Phytol 190: 311-319.

Hassiotou, F., Renton, M., Ludwig, M., Evans, J.R., Veneklaas, E.J. (2010) Photosynthesis at an extreme end of the leaf trait spectrum: how does it relate to high leaf dry mass per area and associated structural parameters? J Exp Bot 61: 3015-3028.

Hassiotou, F., Ludwig, M., Evans, J.R., Veneklaas, E.J. (2009) Stomatal crypts may facilitate diffusion of CO2 to adaxial mesophyll cells in thick sclerophylls. Plant Cell Environ 32: 1596-1611.

Bougoure, J., Ludwig, M., Brundrett, M., Grierson, P.F. (2009) Identity and specificity of the fungi forming mycorrhizas with rare, mycoheterotrophic Rhizanthella gardneri (Orchidaceae). Mycol Res 113: 1097-1106.

Tanz, S.K., Tetu, S.G., Vella, N.G.F., Ludwig, M. (2009) Loss of the transit peptide and an increase in gene expression of an ancestral chloroplastic carbonic anhydrase were instrumental in the evolution of the cytosolic C4 carbonic anhydrase in Flaveria. Plant Physiol 150: 1515-1529.

Hassiotou, F., Ludwig, M.,Renton, M., Veneklaas, E.J., Evans, J.R. (2009) Influence of leaf dry mass per area, CO2 and irradiance on mesophyll conductance in sclerophylls. J Exp Bot 60: 2303-2314.

Clode, P.L., Saunders, M., Maker, G., Ludwig, M. & Atkins, C.A. (2009) Uric acid deposits in symbiotic algae. Plant Cell Environ 32: 170-177.

Rich, S.M., Ludwig, M. & Colmer, T.D. (2008) Photosynthesis in aquatic adventitious roots of the halophytic stem-succulent, Halosarcia pergranulata (formerly Halosarcia pergranulata. Plant Cell Environ 31: 1007-1016.

Hendrickson, L., Sharwood, R., Ludwig, M., Whitney, S.M., Badger, M.R. & von Caemmerer, S. (2008) The effects of Rubisco activase on C4 photosynthesis and metabolism at high temperature. J Exp Bot 59: 1789-1798.

Tetu, S.G., Tanz, S.K., Vella N., Burnell, J.N. & Ludwig, M. (2007) The Flaveria bidentis β-carbonic anhydrase gene family encodes cytosolic and chloroplastic isoforms demonstrating distinct organ-specific expression patterns. Plant Physiol 144: 1316-1327.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Deputy Head of School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Teaching and Learning
University of Western Australia Genetics Major Coordinator
Honorary Secretary of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists
Expertise in:
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Isolation of DNA and RNA; construction and screening of cDNA libraries; PCR; RT-PCR; quantitative RT-PCR; Southern and Northern blotting; automated DNA sequencing; expression of plant genes in heterologous expression systems; transgenics

Protein Biochemistry
Recombinant protein expression and purification; SDS-PAGE; immunoblotting

Cell Biology
Light, fluorescence and confocal microscopy; transmission electron microscopy; in situ localisation of macromolecules
Funding received
Australian Research Council
Australian Society of Plant Scientists
American Society of Plant Biologists
Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Society for Experimental Biology
Phi Beta Kappa
Sigma Xi
Honours and awards
2005 Australian Society of Plant Scientists Teaching Award
2011 University of Western Australia Teaching Award
Previous positions
Post-doctoral Fellow, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne
Australian Research Post-doctoral Fellow, School of Life Science, Queensland University of Technology
Post-doctoral Fellow, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University
Lecturer, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Australian National University
Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University
Molecular Biology of the Cell (SCIE1106), Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the Cell (BIOC2001), Biochemical Regulation of Cell Function (BIOC2002), Principles of Inheritance (GENE2250), Molecular Biology (BIOC3001), Cellular Biochemistry (BIOC3005), Evolution and Development (GENE3350), Genomics (GENE3370)
Current projects
Evolution of the C4 Photosynthetic Pathway

My research interests include the cell and molecular biology, molecular genetics and evolution of photosynthetic pathways. Plants require sunlight, water and atmospheric CO2 to carry out photosynthesis, one of the most fundamental processes on earth. Depending on its biochemistry, a plant is described as a C3, a C4 or a Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) plant. C4 and CAM species have evolved from C3 plants and this process has occurred multiple times in different families of plants. However, the molecular events underlying the evolution of C4 and CAM plants from their C3 ancestors have not been elucidated. We have use species from the genus Flaveria that demonstrate C3, C4 or C3-C4 intermediate-type photosynthesis to examine the anatomical and molecular changes that have occurred during the evolution of C4 plants. We have focused our work on the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, which although involved in both the C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways, shows differences in intracellular location and patterns of expression in C3 and C4 plants. We have identified gene sequences that appear responsible for these differences and we are currently examining their functional significance as well as the cellular expression patterns of the enzymes in C3 and C4 Flaveria species.

More recently, we have begun to examine the molecular evolution of the C4 pathway in the Australian native grass tribe, the Neurachninae. This group is the only known grass lineage with closely related C3, C3-C4 and C4 species, and these species are found only in Australia.

My research group uses a combination of cell and molecular biology and genetics techniques to investigate the above research areas. We look at the products of gene expression using in situ localisation methods that involve microscopy with antibodies and nucleic acid probes. We investigate the genes and the sequences controlling when, where and how they are active using recombinant DNA technology; real-time PCR; RAN-Seq; and immunoblotting techniques. We use transgenic technologies to examine the functions of gene products and to investigate the effects on plant productivity when a plant makes more or less of a given protein than wild type plants.

My group has strong, productive collaborations with groups in the School of Plant Biology, and international researchers in Canada and Germany.

Students interested in the above research areas are encouraged to approach Dr Ludwig about potential Honours and PhD projects.


W/Prof Timothy Colmer, Plant Biology, UWA
Professor Erik Veneklaas, Plant Biology, UWA
Assoc/Prof Pauline Grierson, Plant Biology, UWA
Prof Rowan Sage, University of Toronto, Canada
Assoc/Prof Tammy Sage, University of Toronto, Canada
Prof Peter Westhoff, Heinrich-Heine University, Germany
Prof Andreas Weber, Heinrich-Heine University, Germany
Dr John Lunn, Max Planck Institute for Plant Molecular Physiology, Germany
Research profile
Research profile and publications

The University of Western Australia

This Page

Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM