Associate Professor Ralf Dietzgen

Principal Research Fellow

Centre for Plant Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

Affiliate Associate Professor

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
r.dietzgen@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 66503

Overview

Plant viruses and horticultural crop improvement

Dr Dietzgen is internationally recognised for his work on plant virus characterisation, detection and engineered resistance. Before joining UQ, Dr Dietzgen was a Science Leader in Agri-Science in the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. He previously held research positions at the University of Adelaide, University of California, Cornell University and University of Kentucky. Dr Dietzgen’s research interests are in molecular virus-plant-insect interactions, virus biodiversity and evolution, and disease resistance mechanisms. His focus is on the biology of RNA viruses in the family Rhabdoviridae and the molecular protein interactions of plant-adapted rhabdoviruses and tospoviruses. He has published extensively on plant virus characterisation and genetic variability, RNAi- mediated virus resistance and diagnostic technologies with 20 review articles and book chapters and over 65 peer-reviewed publications. Dr Dietzgen’s other scientific interests are in biofuel crops and the genomics of papaya and mango fruit colour, flavour and health bioactives.

Research Interests

  • Pest and disease management and control
    Study of molecular plant-virus-insect interactions to identify novel targets for plant disease & pest control. Main focus on negative strand RNA virus (rhabdovirus, tospovirus) characterization, biodiversity, taxonomy and interactions with their hosts and insect vectors. Host-delivered RNA silencing for disease resistance against pests and diseases. Application of next generation sequencing technologies for virus characterization and diagnostics.
  • Horticultural crop improvement
    Gene discovery and molecular marker development for genotyping and marker-assisted breeding in tropical fruit and nut crops aimed at increased productivity. Molecular plant biology to understand physiological pathways involved in polyphenols for health bioactives, flower and fruit development and disease resistance.
  • Sustainable biofuel cropping systems
    Assessment of the emerging biofuel legume crop Pongamia pinnata for the northern Australian landscape. Pests and diseases affecting Pongamia, development of viruses as tools for functional genomics.

Research Impacts

Industry Impact.

  • Molecular markers developed by the mango genomics initiative are making mango breeding more efficient towards developing the “super mango”
  • RNAi constructs for durable virus resistance developed with broad applicability across horticultural and field crops
  • Highly sensitive assay for tomato spotted wilt virus developed and made available through the Northern Australian Diagnostic Network and Saturn Biotech
  • Diagnostic assays developed for sugarcane pathogens for implementation by Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations
  • GM peanut lines generated that are highly resistant to the exotic peanut stripe virus – “insurance policy” for the Australian industry and field tested by Indonesian partners

Qualifications

  • Diploma in Biology, Eberhard-Karls-Universitat, Tubingen
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Eberhard-Karls-Universitat, Tubingen

Publications

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Grants

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Supervision

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Publications

Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Trusov, Yuri, Dietzgen, Ralf G., Maruta, Natsumi and Botella, Jose R. (2016). Simplified assays for evaluation of resistance to Alternaria brassicicola and Turnip Mosaic Virus. In Plant Signal Transduction (pp. 219-228) New York, NY, United States: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-3115-6_18

  • Innes, David J, Dillon, Natalie L., Smyth, Heather E., Karan, Mirko, Holton, Timothy A., Bally, Ian S.E. and Dietzgen, Ralf G. (2015). Mangomics: Information systems supporting advanced mango breeding. In Thangadurai, Devarajan and Sangeetha, Jeyabalan (Ed.), Genomics and Proteomics - Principles, Technologies, and Applications (pp. 281-307) Oakville, Ontario, Canada: Apple Academic Press/CRC Press.

  • Dietzgen, Ralf G. and Kuzmin, Ivan V. (2012). Introduction. In Ralf G. Dietzgen and Ivan V. Kuzmin (Ed.), Rhabdoviruses: Molecular taxonomy, evolution, genomics, ecology, host-vector interactions, cytopathology and control (pp. 1-3) Norfolk, England, UK: Caister Academic Press.

  • Dietzgen, Ralf G. (2012). Morphology, genome organization, transcription and replication of rhabdoviruses. In Ralf G. Dietzgen and Ivan V. Kuzmin (Ed.), Rhabdoviruses: Molecular taxonomy, evolution, genomics, ecology, host-vector interactions, cytopathology and control (pp. 5-11) Norfolk, England, UK: Caister Academic Press.

  • Dietzgen, Ralf G. and Kuzmin, Ivan V. (2012). Taxonomy of rhabdoviruses. In Ralf G. Dietzgen and Ivan V. Kuzmin (Ed.), Rhabdoviruses: Molecular taxonomy, evolution, genomics, ecology, host-vector interactions, cytopathology and control (pp. 13-22) Norfolk, England, UK: Caister Academic Press.

  • Dietzgen, Ralf G. (2011). Cytorhabdovirus, Rhabdoviridae. In The Springer index of viruses 2nd ed. (pp. 1709-1713) New York , United States: Springer. doi:10.1007/3-540-31042-8_180

  • Dietzgen, R. G., Calisher, C. H., Kurath, G., Kuzmin, I. V., Rodriguez, L. L., Stone, D. M., Tesh, R. B., Tordo, N., Walker, P. J., Wetzel, T. and Whitfield, A. E. (2011). Rhabdoviridae. In Andrew M. Q. King, Michael J. Adams, Eric B. Carstens and Elliot J. Lefkowitz (Ed.), Virus taxonomy: Ninth report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (pp. 654-681) Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-384684-6.00136-1

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision