The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

Ipsum Lorem

Timothy Colmer

Professor Timothy Colmer

Plant Physiologist
Plant Biology, School of

Contact details
School of Plant Biology
The University of Western Australia (M084)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 1993
+61 8 6488 1108
Room 1.106, Agriculture Central Wing Building, Perth campus
BSc(Agric) W.Aust., PhD Calif.
PhD in Plant Biology (1994) University of California (Davis)

BSc. Agric. (First Class Honours, 1990) The University of Western Australia

Teaching & Research Academic
Key research
The research focus in my laboratory is on the identification of physiological and biochemical traits associated with plant adaptation to salinity and flooding, and the regulation of these traits. Research ranges from cellular to eco-physiological processes, since I consider that elucidation of mechanisms at several levels of organisation is essential to gain an integrative understanding of whole plant adaptation. Collaborative, multi-disciplinary research in my laboratory involves PhD students, and we have established projects with key Local, National and International scientists. Research on flooding stress has focused on anoxia tolerance using rice coleoptiles as a model system, and on oxygen movement in the aerenchyma in roots of crops (esp. rice and wheat), pasture species, and wetland plants (including ‘wild’ Triticeae). Research on salt resistance focuses on the regulation of tissue concentrations of organic solutes and Na and Cl in wheat and its wild relatives, pasture species, and Australian halophytes. Nutrient and water management in turf with Louise Barton (soil scientist).
Research student supervision: I have supervised 20 PhD students (all are jointly supervised in our School), 2 MSc, and 32 Fourth year/Honours projects to completion in my laboratory. PhD students have been successful in the publication of papers in high-quality international peer-reviewed journals and they have obtained positions in their chosen career. Three PhD students have been awarded distinctions by the Graduate Research School.
Publications for the last 5 years are listed (complete list is available via Google Scholar).

Borum J, Pedersen O, Kotula L, Fraser MW, Statton J, Colmer TD, Kendrick GA. Photosynthetic response to globally increasing CO2 of co-occurring temperate seagrass species. Plant, Cell & Environment. Accepted manuscript online: 17 October 2015. DOI: 10.1111/pce.12658View
Meitha K, Konnerup D, Colmer TD, Considine JA, Foyer CH, Considine MJ. 2015. Spatio-temporal relief from hypoxia and production of reactive oxygen species during bud burst in grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.). Annals of Botany (Published on-line 30/6/2015). doi: 10.1093/aob/mcv123
Kotula L, Clode PL, Striker GG, Pedersen O, Läuchli A, Shabala S, Colmer TD. 2015. Oxygen deficiency and salinity affect cell‐specific ion concentrations in adventitious roots of barley (Hordeum vulgare). New Phytologist (Published on-line 1/6/2015).
Pushpavalli R, Quealy J, Colmer TD, Turner NC, Siddique KHM, Rao MV, Vadez V. 2015. Salt stress delayed flowering and reduced reproductive success of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), a response associated with Na+ accumulation in leaves. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science (Published on-line 1/3/2015).
Argus RE, Colmer TD, Grierson PF. 2015. Early physiological flood tolerance is followed by slow post‐flooding root recovery in the dryland riparian tree Eucalyptus camaldulensis subsp. refulgens. Plant, Cell & Environment 38: 1189-1199.
Pushpavalli R, Krishnamurthy L, Thudi M, Gaur PM, Rao MV, Siddique KHM, Colmer TD, Turner NC, Varshney RK, Vadez V. 2015. Two key genomic regions harbour QTLs for salinity tolerance in ICCV 2× JG 11 derived chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) recombinant inbred lines. BMC Plant Biology 15: 124.
Khan HA, Siddique KHM, Munir R, Colmer TD. 2015. Salt sensitivity in chickpea: growth, photosynthesis, seed yield components and tissue ion regulation in contrasting genotypes. Journal of Plant Physiology 182: 1-12.
Kotula L, Khan HA, Quealy J, Turner NC, Vadez V, Siddique KHM, Clode PL, Colmer TD. 2015. Salt sensitivity in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): ions in reproductive tissues and yield components in contrasting genotypes. Plant, Cell & Environment 38: 1565-1577.
Flowers TJ, Colmer TD. 2015. Plant salt tolerance: adaptations in halophytes. Annals of Botany 115: 327-331.
Flowers TJ, Munns R, Colmer TD. 2015. Sodium chloride toxicity and the cellular basis of salt tolerance in halophytes. Annals of Botany 115: 419-431.
Broughton S, Zhou G, Teakle NL, Matsuda R, Zhou M, O’Leary RA, Colmer TD, Li C. 2015. Waterlogging tolerance is associated with root porosity in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Molecular Breeding 35: 1-15.
Atwell BJ, Greenway H, Colmer TD. 2015. Tansley Review. Efficient use of energy in anoxia-tolerant plants with focus on germinating rice seedlings. New Phytologist 206: 36-56.
Konnerup D, Moir-Barnetson L, Pedersen O, Veneklaas EJ, Colmer TD. 2015. Contrasting submergence tolerance in two species of stem-succulent halophytes is not determined by differences in stem internal oxygen dynamics. Annals of Botany 115: 409-418.
Li YP, You MP, Colmer TD, Barbetti MJ. 2015. Effect of timing and duration of soil saturation on soilborne Pythium diseases of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). Plant Disease 99: 112-118.
Striker GG, Teakle NL, Colmer TD, Barrett-Lennard EG. 2015. Growth responses of Melilotus siculus accessions to combined salinity and root-zone hypoxia are correlated with differences in tissue ion concentrations and not differences in root aeration. Environmental and Experimental Botany 109: 89-98.
Marchesini VA, Yin C, Colmer TD, Veneklaas EJ. 2014. Drought tolerances of three stem-succulent halophyte species of an inland semiarid salt lake system. Functional Plant Biology 41: 1230-1238.
Lauridsen T, Glavina K, Colmer TD, Winkel A, Irvine S, Lefmann K, Feidenhans'l R, Pedersen O. 2014. Visualisation by high resolution synchrotron X-ray phase contrast micro-tomography of gas films on submerged superhydrophobic leaves. Journal of Structural Biology 188: 61-70.
Bailey-Serres J, Colmer TD. 2014. Plant tolerance of flooding stress - recent advances. Plant, Cell & Environment 37: 2211-2215.
Zeng FR, Konnerup D, Shabala L, Zhou MX, Colmer TD, Zhang GP, Shabala S. 2014. Linking oxygen availability with membrane potential maintenance and K+ retention of barley roots: implications for waterlogging stress tolerance. Plant, Cell & Environment 37: 2325-2338.
Teakle NL, Colmer TD, Pedersen O. 2014. Leaf gas films delay salt entry and enhance underwater photosynthesis and internal aeration of Melilotus siculus submerged in saline water. Plant, Cell & Environment 37: 2339-2349.
Verboven P, Pedersen O, Ho QT, Nicolai BM, Colmer TD. 2014. The mechanism of improved aeration due to gas films on leaves of submerged rice. Plant, Cell & Environment 37: 2433-2452.
Shiono K, Yamauchi T, Yamazaki S, Mohanty B, Malik AI, Nagamura Y, Nishizawa NK, Tsutsumi N, Colmer TD, Nakazono M. 2014. Microarray analysis of laser-microdissected tissues indicates the biosynthesis of suberin in the outer part of roots during formation of a barrier to radial oxygen loss in rice (Oryza sativa). Journal of Experimental Botany 65: 4795-4806.
Alharby HF, Colmer TD, Barrett-Lennard EG. 2014. Salt accumulation and depletion in the root-zone of the halophyte Atriplex nummularia Lindl.: influence of salinity, leaf area and plant water use. Plant and Soil 382: 31-41.
White AC, Colmer TD, Cawthray GR, Hanley ME. 2014. Variable response of three Trifolium repens ecotypes to soil flooding by seawater. Annals of Botany 114: 347-355.
Winkel A, Pedersen O, Ella E, Ismail AM, Colmer TD. 2014. Gas film retention and underwater photosynthesis during field submergence of four contrasting rice genotypes. Journal of Experimental Botany 65: 3225-3233.
Ariyarathna HACK, Ul-Haq T, Colmer TD, Francki MG. 2014. Characterization of the multigene family TaHKT 2;1 in bread wheat and the role of gene members in plant Na+ and K+ status. BMC Plant Biology 14: 159
Mongon J, Konnerup D, Colmer TD, Rerkasem B. 2014. Responses of rice to Fe2+ in aerated and stagnant conditions: growth, root porosity and radial oxygen loss barrier. Functional Plant Biology 41: 922-929.
Kotula L, Colmer TD, Nakazono M. 2014. Effects of organic acids on the formation of the barrier to radial oxygen loss in roots of Hordeum marinum. Functional Plant Biology 41: 187-202.
Kirk GJD, Greenway H, Atwell BJ, Ismail AM, Colmer TD. 2014. Adaptation of rice to flooded soils. Progress in Botany 75: 215-253.
Colmer TD, Armstrong W, Greenway H, Ismail AM, Kirk GJD, Atwell BJ. 2014. Physiological mechanisms of flooding tolerance in rice: transient complete submergence and prolonged standing water. Progress in Botany 75: 255-307.
Kurniasih B, Greenway H, Colmer TD. 2013. Tolerance of submerged germinating rice to 50-200 mM NaCl in aerated solution. Physiologia Plantarum 149: 222-233.
Nicol DL, Finlayson J, Colmer TD, Ryan MH. 2013. Opportunistic Mediterranean agriculture - Using ephemeral pasture legumes to utilize summer rainfall. Agricultural Systems 120: 76-84.
Colmer TD, Pedersen O, Wetson AM, Flowers TJ. 2013. Oxygen dynamics in a salt-marsh soil and in Suaeda maritima during tidal submergence. Environmental and Experimental Botany 92: 73-82.
Pedersen O, Colmer TD, Sand-Jensen K. 2013. Underwater photosynthesis of submerged plants – recent advances and methods. Frontiers in Plant Science 4: article number 140.
Turner NC, Colmer TD, Quealy J, Pushpavalli R, Krishnamurthy L, Kaur J, Singh G, Siddique KHM, Vadez V. 2013. Salinity tolerance and ion accumulation in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) subjected to salt stress. Plant and Soil 365: 347-361.
Teakle NL, Bazihizina N, Shabala S, Colmer TD, Barrett-Lennard EG, Rodrigo-Moreno A, Läuchli A. 2013. Differential tolerance to combined salinity and O2 deficiency in the halophytic grasses Puccinellia ciliata and Thinopyrum ponticum: the importance of K+ retention in roots. Environmental and Experimental Botany 87: 69-78.
Winkel A, Colmer TD, Ismail AM, Pedersen O. 2013. Internal aeration of paddy field rice (Oryza sativa) during complete submergence: importance of light and floodwater O2. New Phytologist 197: 1193-1203.
Alamri SA, Barrett-Lennard EG, Teakle NL, Colmer TD. 2013. Improvement of salt and waterlogging tolerance in wheat: comparative physiology of Hordeum marinum-Triticum aestivum amphiploids with their H. marinum and wheat parents. Functional Plant Biology 40: 1168-1178.
English JP, Colmer TD. 2013. Tolerance of extreme salinity in two stem-succulent halophytes (Tecticornia species). Functional Plant Biology 40: 897-912.
Rich SM, Pedersen O, Ludwig M, Colmer TD. 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 & Environment 36: 213-223.
Bazihizina N, Barrett-Lennard EG, Colmer TD. 2012. Plant responses to heterogeneous salinity: growth of the halophyte Atriplex nummularia is determined by the root-weighted mean salinity of the root zone. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 6347-6358
Abiko T, Kotula L, Shiono K, Malik AI, Colmer TD, Nakazono M. 2012. Enhanced formation of aerenchyma and induction of a barrier to radial oxygen loss in adventitious roots of Zea nicaraguensis contribute to its waterlogging tolerance as compared with maize (Zea mays ssp mays). Plant, Cell & Environment 35: 1618-1630.
Vadez V, Rashmi M, Sindhu K, Muralidharan M, Pushpavalli R, Turner NC, Krishnamurthy L, Gaur PM, Colmer TD. 2012. Large number of flowers and tertiary branches, and higher reproductive success increase yields under salt stress in chickpea. European Journal of Agronomy 41: 42-51.
Rich SM, Ludwig M, Colmer TD. 2012. Aquatic adventitious root development in partially and completely submerged wetland plants Cotula coronopifolia and Meionectes brownii. Annals of Botany 110: 405-414
Farrell C, Hobbs RJ, Colmer TD. 2012. Microsite and litter cover effects on seed banks vary with seed size and dispersal mechanisms: implications for revegetation of degraded saline land. Plant Ecology 213: 1145-1155.
Chai TT, Simmonds D, Day DA, Colmer TD, Finnegan PM. 2012. A GmAOX2b antisense gene compromises vegetative growth and seed production in soybean. Planta 236: 199-207
Vadez V, Krishnamurthy L, Thudi M, Anuradha C, Colmer TD, Turner NC, Siddique KHM, Gaur PM, Varshney RK. 2012. Assessment of ICCV 2 x JG 62 chickpea progenies shows sensitivity of reproduction to salt stress and reveals QTL for seed yield and yield components. Molecular Breeding 30: 9-21.
Bazihizina N, Barrett-Lennard EG, Colmer TD. 2012. Plant growth and physiology under heterogeneous salinity. Plant and Soil 354: 1-19.
Teakle NL, Bowman S, Barrett-Lennard EG, Real D, Colmer TD. 2012. Comparisons of annual pasture legumes in growth, ion regulation and root porosity demonstrate that Melilotus siculus has exceptional tolerance to combinations of salinity and waterlogging. Environmental and Experimental Botany 77: 175-184.
Greenway H, Kulichikhin KY, Cawthray GR, Colmer TD. 2012. pH regulation in anoxic rice coleoptiles at pH 3.5: biochemical pHstats and net H+ influx in the absence and presence of NO3-. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 1969-1983.
Pedersen O, Colmer TD. 2012. Physical gills prevent drowning of many wetland insects, spiders and plants. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 705-709.
Bennett RG, Colmer TD, Real D, Renton M, Ryan MH. 2012. Phenotypic variation for productivity and drought tolerance is widespread in germplasm collections of Australian Cullen species. Crop & Pasture Science 63: 656-671.
Verboven P, Pedersen O, Herremans E, Ho QT, Nicolai BM, Colmer TD, Teakle N. 2012. Root aeration via aerenchymatous phellem: three-dimensional micro-imaging and radial O2 profiles in Melilotus siculus. New Phytologist 193: 420-431.
Barton L, Colmer TD. 2011. Ameliorating water repellency under turfgrass of contrasting soil organic matter content: Effect of wetting agent formulation and application frequency. Agricultural Water Management 99: 1-7.
Samineni S, Gaur PM, Colmer TD, Krishnamurthy L, Vadez V, Siddique KHM. 2011. Estimation of genetic components of variation for salt tolerance in chickpea using the generation mean analysis. Euphytica 182: 73-86.
Munns R, James RA, Islam AKMR, Colmer TD. 2011. Hordeum marinum-wheat amphiploids maintain higher leaf K+:Na+ and suffer less leaf injury than wheat parents in saline conditions. Plant and Soil 348: 365-377.
English JP, Colmer TD. 2011. Salinity and waterlogging tolerances in three stem-succulent halophytes (Tecticornia species) from the margins of ephemeral salt lakes. Plant and Soil 348: 379-396.
Farrell C, Szota C, Hobbs RJ, Colmer TD. 2011. Microsite and litter cover effects on soil conditions and seedling recruitment in a saline agricultural system. Plant and Soil 348: 397-409.
Barton L, Colmer TD. 2011. Granular wetting agents ameliorate water repellency in turfgrass of contrasting soil organic matter content. Plant and Soil 348: 411-424.
Nio SA, Cawthray GR, Wade LJ, Colmer TD. 2011. Pattern of solutes accumulated during leaf osmotic adjustment as related to duration of water deficit for wheat at the reproductive stage. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 49: 1126-1137.
Pedersen O, Pulido C, Rich SM, Colmer TD. 2011. In situ O2 dynamics in submerged Isoetes australis: varied leaf gas permeability influences underwater photosynthesis and internal O2. Journal of Experimental Botany 62: 4691-4700.
Winkel A, Colmer TD, Pedersen O. 2011. Leaf gas films of Spartina anglica enhance rhizome and root oxygen during tidal submergence. Plant, Cell & Environment 34, 2083-2092.
Rogers ME, Colmer TD, Nichols PGH, Hughes SJ, Frost K, Cornwall D, Chandra S, Miller SM, Craig AD. 2011. Salinity and waterlogging tolerance amongst accessions of Messina (Melilotus siculus). Crop & Pasture Science 62: 225-235.
Teakle NL, Armstrong J, Barrett-Lennard EG, Colmer TD. 2011. Aerenchymatous phellem in hypocotyl and roots enables O2 transport in Melilotus siculus. New Phytologist 190: 340-350.
Rich SM, Ludwig M, Colmer TD. 2011. Aquatic adventitious roots of the wetland plant Meionectes brownii can photosynthesize: implications for root function during flooding. New Phytologist 190: 311-319.
Pedersen O, Rich SM, Pulido C, Cawthray GR, Colmer TD. 2011. Crassulacean acid metabolism enhances underwater photosynthesis and diminishes photorespiration in the aquatic plant Isoetes australis. New Phytologist 190: 332-339.
Malik AI, Islam AKMR, Colmer TD. 2011. Transfer of the barrier to radial oxygen loss in roots of Hordeum marinum to wheat (Triticum aestivum): evaluation of four H. marinum–wheat amphiploids. New Phytologist 190: 499-508.
Samineni S, Siddique KHM, Gaur PM, Colmer TD. 2011. Salt sensitivity of the vegetative and reproductive stages in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): Podding is a particularly sensitive stage. Environmental and Experimental Botany 71: 260-268.
Bennett RG, Ryan MH, Colmer TD, Real D. 2011. Prioritisation of novel pasture species for use in water-limited agriculture: a case study of Cullen in the Western Australian wheatbelt. Genetic Resources & Crop Evolution 58: 83-100.
Colmer TD, Greenway H. 2011. Ion transport in seminal and adventitious roots of cereals during O2 deficiency. Journal of Experimental Botany 62: 39-57.
Shiono K, Ogawa S, Yamazaki S, Isoda H, Fujimura T, Nakazono M, Colmer TD. 2011. Contrasting dynamics of radial O2-loss barrier induction and aerenchyma formation in rice roots of two lengths. Annals of Botany 107: 89-99.
You, MP, Colmer TD, Barbetti MJ. 2011. Salinity drives host reaction in Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) to Macrophomina phaseolina. Functional Plant Biology 38: 984-992.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Australasian Editor of Annals of Botany (2001 - present)

Handling Editor of Journal of Experimental Botany (2011-present)

International Review Board of Plant, Cell & Environment (2006-present)

President of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists (2013 & 2014)

International Committee of the International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (2003-2016)

Plant physiologist with expertise in abiotic stress tolerance, especially salinity, drought, waterlogging and submergence stress
Funding received
Research in my laboratory has been supported by a series of competitive grants from: ARC-Discovery (1), ARC-Linkage (4), GRDC (6; including via Salinity CRC and FFI CRC), HAL (7), ACIAR (1), Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (2), and others.
Member of The Australian Society of Plant Scientists (Discipline Rep. 2002 & 2003; Education Rep. 2005 & 2006; President Elect 2012; President 2013 & 2014)

Member of International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis
Honours and awards
Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2006)

Australian Society of Plant Scientists Teaching Award (2004)

Excellence in Teaching Award (coursework) for the Faculty of Agriculture (1997 and 2001)
Previous positions
Coordinator of Master of Agricultural Science (2014-present)

Head, School of Plant Biology (2013-2015)

Postgraduate Coordinator, School of Plant Biology (2010-2013)

Deputy Head, School of Plant Biology (2009 - 2012)

Associate Dean, Teaching & Learning, Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences (2005-2007)
My teaching focuses on responses and adaptations of plants to adverse environments, and the integration of processes from the cellular to whole plant levels. The relevance of such adaptations to plants in appropriate agricultural and natural systems are considered in the context of solving problems in these management systems. Inter-disciplinary approaches to problem solving are emphasized. Evaluations of the current scientific literature and group discussions are used as teaching tools. Laboratory- and field-based teaching is of importance, since I am convinced that hands-on experience is valuable to students learning plant science. I lecture in units in Biology (Level 1), Plant Physiology (Level 2), Plant Ecophysiology (Level 3). I supervise a cohort of PhD students and research project (Honours & Masters) students.
Research profile
Research profile and publications

The University of Western Australia

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Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM