The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

Ipsum Lorem

Willie Erskine

Professor William Erskine

Plant Genetics and Breeding, Centre for (PGB)

Contact details
Centre for Plant Genetics and Breeding
The University of Western Australia (M080)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 1903

Agriculture and Environment, School of

Contact details
School of Agriculture and Environment
The University of Western Australia (M080)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 1903
MAg P.N.G., PhD Camb.
William Erskine is Director of the Centre for Plant Genetics and Breeding (PGB) at The University of Western Australia. He was at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria as Assistant Director General (Research) from 2001-2007, Leader of the Germplasm Improvement Program (1998-2001), and Lentil Breeder from 1980 for 18 years. Scottish born, William completed a BA (University of Cambridge) in 1973, a MAg in 1976 in Papua New Guinea, and a PhD from Cambridge in 1979.
Key research
My research interests are broad within the theme of plant breeding for food security - both nationally and internationally. I currently lead the major project in Timor-Leste funded by ACIAR - 'Agricultural Innovations for Communities for intensified and sustainable farming systems in Timor-Leste', and an ACIAR project on crop intensification with salt tolerance wheat and legumes in rice systems in coastal Bangladesh. I am also involved in MLA-funded project on the pre-breeding of the pasture subterranean clover, which includes its recent sequencing.
Research results
National programs had released a total of 99 lentil cultivars in 31 countries from the ICARDA lentil breeding program that I ran for 18 years by the time I left ICARDA.
Lentil technologies from ICARDA have been adopted on hundreds of thousands of hectares globally, recognized, for example, by an award by the Minister of Agriculture in Bangladesh for the impact of ICARDA's lentil research in that country received in February 2005.
The previous ‘Seeds of Life‘ project in Timor-Leste resulted in the release and dissemination of a range of high yielding varieties of the staple food-crops, one or other of which were being grown by 48% of all rural households nationally by the close of the project in 2016. The ‘hungry season’ was shortened in adopting households.
Research student supervision:
Since coming to UWA in 2008 I have supervised 14 MSc and 10 PhD students.
Prior to UWA I supervised 7 PhD and 8 MSc students variously registered at the Universities of Helsinki (Finland), Durham (UK), Göttingen, (Germany), Konya and Çukurova in Turkey, American University of Beirut (Lebanon), Aleppo (Syria), and Jordan.
Publications since 2011 are listed (complete list is available via Google Scholar).

Correia, M.V., Pereira, L.C.R., De Almeida, L., Williams, R.L., Freach, J., Nesbitt, H. and Erskine, W. 2014. Maize-mucuna (Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC) relay intercropping in the lowland tropics of Timor-Leste. Field Crops Research 156: 272–280.
Ribalta, F.M., Croser, J.S., Erskine, W., Finnegan, P.M., Lulsdorf M.M. and Ochatt S.J. 2014. Induction of in vitro flowering and seed-set in different pea genotypes by reducing internode length. Biologia Plantarum 58: 39-46.

Jensen, L.P., Picozzi, K., Monteiro, O.C., da Costa, M.J., Spyckerelle, L. and Erskine, W. 2014. Social relationships impact adoption of agricultural technologies: the case of food crop varieties in Timor-Leste. Food Security 3: 397-409.

da Costa, M. dJ., Lopes, M., Ximenes, A., Ferreira, A. dR., Spyckerelle, L., Williams, R., Nesbitt, H. and Erskine, W. 2013. Household food insecurity in Timor-Leste. Food Security 5: 83-94.
Williams, R., Soares, F., Pereira, L., Belo, B., Soares, A., Setiawan, A., Browne, M., Nesbitt, H., Erskine, W. 2013. Sweet potato can contribute to both nutritional and food security in Timor-Leste. Field Crops Research 146: 38–43.

Khan, T.N., Timmerman-Vaughan, G.M., Rubiales, D., Warkentin, T.D., Siddique, K.H.M., Erskine, W., Barbetti, M.J. 2013. Didymella pinodes and its management in field pea: challenges and opportunities. Field Crops Research 148: 61–77.

Siddique, K.H.M., Erskine, W., Hobson, K., Knights, E.J., Leonforte, A., Khan, T.N., Paull, J.G., Redden, R. and Materne, M. 2013. Cool-season grain legume improvement in Australia – Use of genetic resources. Crop and Pasture Science 64: 347-360.

Banik, B.K., Durmic, Z., Erskine, W., Nichols, P., Ghamkhar, K. and Vercoe, P. 2013. In vitro ruminal fermentation and methanogenic potential of the pasture legume Biserrula pelecinus L.: Variation in a core germplasm collection and confirmation in field. Crop and Pasture Science 64: 409-416.

Campbell, M.C, Rossi, A. and Erskine, W. 2013. Camelina (Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz): Agronomic potential in Mediterranean environments and diversity for biofuel and food uses. Crop and Pasture Science 64: 388–398.

Rahman, M.M., Erskine, W., Zaman, M.S., Thavarajah, P., Thavarajah, D. and Siddique, K.H.M. 2013. Selenium biofortification in lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus subsp. culinaris): Farmers’ field survey and genotype x environment effect. Food Research International 54:1596–1604.

Banik, B.K., Durmic, Z., Erskine, W., Ghamkhar, K. and Revell, C. 2013. In vitro ruminal fermentation and methane production vary in selected key pasture species in Australia. Crop and Pasture Science 64: 935–942.

Williams, R., Andersen, R., Marçal, A., Pereira, L., Almeida, L. and Erskine, W. 2012. Exploratory Agronomy within Participatory Varietal Selection: The Case of Peanut in East Timor. Experimental Agriculture 48: 272-282.

Lacoste, M., Williams, R., Erskine, W., Nesbitt, H., Pereira, L. and Marçal, A. 2012. Varietal Diffusion in Marginal Seed Systems: Participatory Trials initiate Change in East Timor. Journal of Crop Improvement 26: 468-488.

Ghamkhar, K., Revell, C. and Erskine W. 2012. Biserrula pelecinus L. - genetic diversity in a promising pasture legume for the future. Crop and Pasture Science 63: 833–839.

Erskine, W., Sarker, A. and Ashraf, M. 2011. Re-constructing an ancient bottleneck of the movement of the lentil (Lens culinaris ssp. culinaris) into South Asia. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 58: 373-381.

Erskine, W., Sarker, A. and Kumar, S. 2011. Crops that feed the World 3. Investing in lentil improvement toward a food secure world. Food Security 3: 127-139.

Khatib, F., Makris, A., Yamaguchi-Shinozaki, K., Kumar, S., Sarker, A., Erskine, W. and Baum, M. 2011. Expression of the DREB1A gene in lentil (Lens culinaris Medik. subsp. culinaris) transformed with the Agrobacterium system. Crop and Pasture Science 62: 488–495.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
On the Editorial Board of the following journals:

•Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge
•Experimental Agriculture
•Food Security
Funding received
Since coming to UWA I have received grant funding from Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Council of Grain Grower Organisations Ltd (COGGO), Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), and the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Prior to UWA I was the recipient of research project grants from International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada; BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) Germany; Overseas Development Agency (ODA) UK; and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), USA.
EUCARPIA – European Society of Plant Breeding
Honours and awards
Elected Fellow of Indian Academy of Agricultural Sciences - 2006
Program Chair of International Steering Committee for International Food Legume Research Conference IV, New Delhi - 2005
Award for Service in Lentils from Minster of Agriculture, Bangladesh - 2005
Elected Fellow of Society of Biology, UK - 1996
Coultshurst Scholarship, University of Cambridge, UK - 1978
Previous positions
2001 - 2007: Assistant Director General (Research) - International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aleppo, Syria
1998 - 2001: Program Leader - Germplasm Improvement Program, ICARDA
1980 - 1998: Lentil Breeder at ICARDA
1973 - 1977: Tutor with Agriculture Faculty of University of Papua New Guinea
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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