Professor Elizabeth Aitken

Professor

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Faculty of Science

Affiliate Associate Professor

Centre for Plant Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
e.aitken@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 54775

Overview

Associate Professor Elizabeth Aitken (Liz) obtained her BSc Hons in Agricultural Science (Crop Science) from Edinburgh University where she specialised in Plant Pathology. She then went on to undertake her PhD studies at Aberdeen University in conjunction with the UK Forestry Commission on a study of dieback on Scots pine trees. This was followed with postdoctoral studies at Birmingham University and the Sainsbury Lab, aiming to identify a rust resistance gene by transposon tagging. In 1993 she moved to Australia and joined UQ as an academic staff member.

Much of Liz’s research at UQ has focused on diseases of tropical crops in particular banana, ginger, sunflower as well as wheat. Research topics have included the genetics of plant-pathogen interactions, molecular aspects of pathogenicity and disease diagnostics. This research has been undertaken with strong collaborations with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries or with CSIRO. Research topics have included the genetics of plant-pathogen interactions, molecular aspects of pathogenicity and disease diagnostics. This work has assisted in the identification of disease incursions in particular in banana and of cryptic plant pathogen species of Pythium in ginger and Phomopsis in sunflower. One current research focus includes identification of resistance to Fusarium wilt in diploid banana lines for potential deployment against TR4 in commercial banana cultivars; this is now funded by the BMGF in collaboration with the International Institute of Topical Agriculture in Africa. Other studies include analysis of putative pathogenicity genes including Six genes in Fusarium oxysporum affecting banana, strawberry and ginger and in collaboration with colleagues at CSIRO studies on Fusarium spp on wheat particularly with regard to influence of environmental factors related to climate change.

Since commencing at UQ in 1993, Elizabeth has supervised numerous postgraduate and honours students and participated in undergraduate teaching at all levels including co-ordination of the third year capstone course in Plant Science. She has also taken on various roles and committee membership in postgraduate student mentoring, research integrity and biosafety.

Research Interests

  • Studies on Fusarium oxysporum
    Assessment of novel targets for control of Fusarium wilt in banana Identification and characterization of resistance to Fusarium wilt in Musa acuminata subsp. malaccensis for potential deployment against TR4 Analysis of putative pathogenicity genes including "Six" genes in Fusarium oxysporum Fusarium wilt on strawberry and ginger
  • Pythium spp.
    Assessment of Pythium soft rot in ginger, including the identification of cryptic species and their control Assesment of Pythium spp. on carrot and possible non-chemical control options
  • Phomopsis spp. on sunflower
    Identification of cryptic species using molecular taxonomy and pathogenicity analysis
  • Fusarium spp. on cereals
    In collaboration with colleagues at CSIRO studies on Fusarium spp on wheat particularly with regard to influence of environmental factors related to climate change

Research Impacts

Much of A/Prof. Aitken’s research at UQ has focused on diseases of tropical crops in particular banana, ginger and sunflower. Research topics have included the genetics of plant-pathogen interactions, molecular aspects of pathogenicity and disease diagnostics. This work has assissted in the identification of disease incursions in particular in banana and of cryptic plant pathoegn species in ginger and sunflower. Current research focus includes identification of resistance to Fusraium wilt in diploid banana lines for potential deployment against Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense race 4 in commercial banana cultivars.

Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Aberdeen
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Ag Science), University of Edinburgh

Publications

View all Publications

Grants

View all Grants

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Master Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • SIX (secreted in xylem) genes have been identified in a range of different formae speciales of the pathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum specific to different host plants. We are currently disecting the action of these genes on the crop plants that we work on (banana, ginger and strawberry) in an attempt to understand the host-pathogen interaction. Projects would be available on this aspect of research. Currently we do not have a scholasrhip availble but we would encourage suitable candidates to apply for external scholarships.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Czislowski, E., Fraser-Smith, S., Zander, M. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2016). Identifying pathogenicity genes in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense. In: XXIX International Horticultural Congress On Horticulture: Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (Ihc2014): IX International Symposium On Banana: Ishs-Promusa Symposium On Unravelling the Banana'S Genomic Potential. 29th International Horticultural Congress on Horticulture - Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (IHC) / 9th International Symposium on Banana / ISHS-ProMusa Symposium on Unravelling the Banana's Genomic Potential, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (101-106). 17 - 22 August 2014. doi:10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1114.14

  • Le, D. P., Aitken, E. A. B. and Smith, M. K. (2015). Comparison of host range and pathogenicity of isolates of Pythium myriotylum and Pythium zingiberis. In: W. Roberts, R. Ikin, S. McMaugh, C. Hale and D. Hunter, XXIX International Horticultural Congress on Horticulture: Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (IHC2014): International Symposia on Innovative Plant Protection in Horticulture, Biosecurity, Quarantine Pests, and Market Access. International Horticulture Congress, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (47-54). 17-22 August 2014. doi:10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1105.7

  • Qureshi, Arslan, Galea, Victor, Akem, Chrys, Aitken, Elizabeth and Bally, Ian (2013). The effect of postharvest hot fungicidal dip and exogenous ethylene gas application on the incidence of dendritic spot and stem end rot in Kensington Pride (KP) mangoes. In: APPS 2013: The 19th Australasian Plant Pathology Conference. Abstract and Programme Book. 19th Australasian Plant Pathology Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, (74-74). 25-28 November, 2013.

  • Kelly, L., Tan, Y. P., Ryley, M. and Aitken, E. (2011). Fusarium thapsinum is the dominant species associated with sorghum stalk rot in Queensland and northern NSW. In: ACPP APPS 2011. New Frontiers in Plant Pathology for Asia and Oceania. 4th Asian Conference for Plant Pathology (ACPP) concurrent with the 18th Australasian Plant Pathology Conference, Darwin, NT, Australia, (73-73). 26-29 April 2011.

  • Wong, M.H., Henderson. J., Cook, L., Van Brunschot., S., Aitken, E.A.B. and Drenth, A. (2011). Genetic diversity of Guignardia musae on banana based on internal transcribed spacer region of ribosomal DNA. In: ACPP APPS 2011. New Frontiers in Plant Pathology for Asia and Oceania. 4th Asian Conference for Plant Pathology (ACPP) concurrent with the 18th Australasian Plant Pathology Conference, Darwin, NT, Australia, (81-81). 26-29 April 2011.

  • Bala, Neeraj, Aitken, Elizabeth A.B., Hewavitharana, Amitha, Ross, Benjamin and Steadman, Kathryn (2011). Identification of antimicrobial compounds in the crude extracts of the Australian macrofungi, Hohenbuehelia sp. and Ramaria sp., through bioassay-guided fractionation. In: Australian Pharmaceutical Science Association Conference, Adelaide, Australia, (). 11-14 December 2011.

  • Meldrum, R., Tran-Nguyen, L. T. T., Daly, A. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2011). Presence of putative pathogenicity genes in Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense. In: ACPP APPS 2011 - New Frontiers in Plant Pathology for Asia and Oceania. 4th Asian Conference on Plant Pathology concurrent with 18th Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference, Darwin, Australia, (137-137). 26-29 April 2011.

  • Fraser Smith, S. and Aitken, E.A.B. (2011). Resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense race 4 in Musa acuminata subsp. Malaccensis. In: ACPP APPS 2011. New Frontiers in Plant Pathology for Asia and Oceania. 4th Asian Conference for Plant Pathology (ACPP) concurrent with the 18th Australasian Plant Pathology Conference, Darwin, NT, Australia, (141-141). 26-29 April 2011.

  • Jones, K. W., Aitken, E. and Cribb, B. (2011). Silicon enhances tolerance of banana to Fusarium wilt. In: ACPP APPS 2011. New Frontiers in Plant Pathology for Asia and Oceania. 4th Asian Conference for Plant Pathology (ACPP) concurrent with the 18th Australasian Plant Pathology Conference, Darwin, NT, Australia, (68-68). 26-29 April 2011.

  • Al-Sadi, A. M., Al-Said, F. A., Deadman, M. L., Drenth, A. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2010). Can silicon improve defense responses of cucumber seedlings to pythium-induced damping off disease?. In: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Cucurbits. The 4th International Cucurbit Symposium, Changsha, China, (441-444). 21-26 September 2009.

  • Jones, K. W., Cribb, B. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2010). Does the addition of the element silicon affect the infection process of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense on banana?. In: G. R. Stirling, The Sixth Australasian Soilborne Diseases Symposium, Twin Waters, Qld., Australia, (58-58). 9-11 August 2010.

  • Keller, Lisa, Ryley, Malcolm, Aitken, Elizabeth and Tan, Yu Pei (2010). Fusarium species associated with sorghum stalk rot and lodging: A preliminary study. In: B. George-Jaeggli and D. J. Jordan, Proceedings of the 1st Australian Summer Grains Conference. 1st Australian Summer Grains Conference 2010, Gold Coast, Australia, (). 21-24 June 2010.

  • Fuhlbohm, Michael, Ryley, Malcolm and Aitken, Elizabeth (2010). Infection of mungbean seed by the charcoal rot pathogen Macrophomina phaseolina. In: B. George-Jaeggli and D. J. Jordan, Proceedings of the 1st Australian Summer Grains Conference. 1st Australian Summer Grains Conference 2010, Gold Coast, Australia, (). 21-24 June 2010.

  • Le P. D., Smith, M. K. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2010). Pythium spp. on ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in Australia. In: G. R. Stirling, 6th Australian Soilborne Disease Symposium, Twin Waters, Qld., Australia, (62-62). 9-11 August 2010.

  • McCarthy, J. W., Aitken, E. A. B., Furlong, M. J. and Cobon, J. A. (2010). The potential of sesame oil extracts for Meloidogyne javanica control. In: G. R. Stirling, 6th ASDS Proceedings. 6th Australian Soilborne Disease Symposium, Twin Waters, Qld., Australia, (68-68). 9-11 August 2010.

  • Miles, A. K., Akinsami, O. A., Aitken, E. A. and Drenth, A. (2009). Genetic diversity of Pseudocercospera macadamiae populations by PCR-RFLP. In: APPS 2009 Plant Health Management: An Integrated Approach. 17th Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference, Newcastle, N.S.W., Australia, (180-180). 29 September - 1 October 2009.

  • Lomavatu, M. F., Conrey, J. and Aitken, E. (2009). Molecular identification of Pythium isolates of ginger from Fiji and Australia. In: APPS 2009 Plant Health Management: An Integrated Approach. 17th Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference, Newcastle, N.S.W., Australia, (173-173). 29 September - 1 October 2009.

  • Anderson, J. M., Coates, L. M., Dann, E. K. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2009). The diversity of Colletotrichum infecting lychee in Australia. In: APPS 2009 Plant Health Management: An Integrated Approach. 17th Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference, Newcastle, N.S.W., Australia, (54-54). 29 September - 1 October 2009.

  • Parh, D. K., Jordan, D., Aitken, E A B, McIntyre, and Godwin, I D (2006). Genetics of ergot resistance in sorghum. In: A.K. Borrell and R.G. Henzell and D.R. Jordan, Proceedings of the 5th Austgralian Sorghum Conference. 5th Australian Sorghum Conference, Gold Coast, (1-7). 30 January - 2 February, 2006.

  • Smith, L. J., Forsyth, L. M., Lewis, S. D., Aitken, E. A. B, Feagan, M. and Galea, V. J. (2005). The identification and characterization of a Chitinolytic bacterium of inducing system resistance in banana to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense. In: Innovations for sustainable plant health. 15th Biennial Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference, Geelong, VIC, Australia, (). 26 - 29 September 2005.

  • Parh, D. K., Jordon, D., Aitken, E. A. B., McIntyre, L. and Godwin, I. D. (2004). Sorghum ergot: revealing the genetic architecture of resistance. In: T. Fischer, Proceedings of the 4th International Crop Sciences Congress. New Directions for a Diverse Planet: 4th International Crop Sciences Congress, Brisbane Australia, (1-4). 26 September -1 Oct ober.

  • Parh, D., Jordan, D., Aitken, E. A. B., McIntyre, L. and Godwin, I. D. (2002). Association of pollen traits with ergot resistance in Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). In: J.A. McComb, Proceedings of the 12th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference. Plant Breeding for the 11th Millennium, Perth, W.A./Hyatt Regency Perth, (424-426). 15-20 September, 2002.

  • Carlier, J., Hayden, H., Rivas, G., Zapater, M - F., Abadie, C. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2002). Genetic differentiation in the Mycosphaeralla leaf spot pathogens of bananas. In: 2nd International Workshop on Mycosphaerella Leaf Spot Diseases of Bananas Abstracts. 2nd International Workshop on Mycosphaerella Leaf Spot Diseases of Bananas, San Jose, Costa Rica, (18-19). 20-23 May 2002.

  • Harvey, J. A., Aitken, E. A. B. and Nehl, D. B. (2002). Genetic diversity of Thielaviopsis basicola. In: Field to Fashion 11th Australian Cotton Conference Proceedings. Field to Fashion 11th Australian cotton conference, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Q, Australia, (685-687). 13-15 August 2002.

  • Forsyth, L. M. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2002). Identification of banana defence genes through CDNA screening. In: 13th Biennial Australasian Plant Pathology Conference Handbook. Australasian Plant Pathology Society 13th Biennial Conference, Cairns, Q, Australia, (357-357). 24-27 September 2001.

  • Lindhout, K., Aitken, E. A. B., Dale, M. and Hetherington, S. D. (2002). Mycoherbicides for grass weeds of cereals can be improved by the addition of fungal germination stimulants. In: 13th Biennial Australasian Plant Pathology Conference Handbook. Australasian Plant Pathology Society 13th Biennial Conference, Cairns, Q, Australia, (348-348). 24-27 September 2001.

  • Miric, E., Aitken, E. A. B. and Goulter, K. C. (2002). Phomopsis pathogenic on sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) in Australia is not Phomopsis helianthi munt.-cvet et al. In: 13th Biennial Australasian Plant Pathology Conference Handbook. Australasian Plant Pathology Society 13th Biennial Conference, Cairns, Q, Australia, (229-229). 24-27 September 2001.

  • Self, N., Aitken, E. A. B. and Dale, M. (2002). Susceptibility of provenances of spotted gums to ramularia shoot blight. In: New Zealand Plant Protection. Proceedings of the 55th NZPPS Conference, New Zealand, (68-72). 2002.

  • Pilotti, C., Sanderson, F. R. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2002). The population structure of Ganoderma boninense in oil palm plantations in Papua New Guinea. In: 13th Biennial Australasian Plant Pathology Conference Handbook. Australasian Plant Pathology Society 13th Biennial Conference, Cairns, Q, Australia, (273-273). 24-27 September 2001.

  • Engel, B., Aitken, E. A. B., Goulter, K. C., Kong, G. and Kochman, J. K. (2002). The production of race-specific elicitors of necrosis by Puccinia helianthi. In: 13th Biennial Plant Pathology Conference Handbook. Australasian Plant Pathology Society 13th Biennial Conference, Cairns, Q, Australia, (136-136). 24-27 September 2001.

  • Hayden, H., Carlier, S. G. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2001). The population genetics of Mycophaerella musicola in Australia. In: InfoMusa: The 2nd International Symposium on the Molecular and Cellular Biology of Banana. 2nd International Symposium on the Molecular and Cellular Biology of Banana, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia, (). 29 October -3 November 2000.

  • Pattemore, J. A. and Aitken, E. A. B. (2000). Genetic variation among populations of Thielaviopsis basicola, the causal agent of Black Root Rot.. In: Cotton : meeting the challenge : Conference program : 10th Australian Cotton Conference. 10th Australian Cotton Conference, Brisbane, Australia, (499-505). 16 -18 August 2000.

  • Smith, L. W., Aitken, E. A. and Godwin, I. D. (1998). Potential for the use of molecular markers in improvement of Musa for disease resistance - Reviewed paper. In: International Symposium On Biotechnology of Tropical and Subtropical Species - Part II. International Symposium on Biotechnology of Tropical and Subtropical Species, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (149-155). 29 September - 3 October 1997.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Joint Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • SIX (secreted in xylem) genes have been identified in a range of different formae speciales of the pathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum specific to different host plants. We are currently disecting the action of these genes on the crop plants that we work on (banana, ginger and strawberry) in an attempt to understand the host-pathogen interaction. Projects would be available on this aspect of research. Currently we do not have a scholasrhip availble but we would encourage suitable candidates to apply for external scholarships.