Professor Peer Schenk

Professor

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Faculty of Science

Affiliated Professor

Centre for Plant Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
p.schenk1@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 58817

Overview

Plant and Microbial Biotechnology, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Environmental Transcriptomics, Algae Biotechnology, Sustainable Biofuel Production

The Plant-Microbe Interactions Group specialises in the discovery of interesting new genes from plants and microbes, including microalgae.

DISEASE RESISTANT PLANTS:

We use a Functional Genomics and Biodiscovery approach to study beneficial and parasitic interactions of plants with microorganisms. Arabidopsis is used as a model plant to study signalling pathways that enable plants to withstand pathogen attack or severe drought. The up- or down-regulation of specific key regulatory genes has led to disease resistance and drought tolerance, and this strategy is used to improve crop species.

MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES ASSOCIATED WITH PLANTS:

We are using molecular profiling tools, such as functional gene microarrays and next generation sequencing, to characterise highly diverse microbial communities that are associated with plants to identify novel compounds for agricultural applications. This environmental transcriptomics (metatranscriptomics) approach captures microbial activity profiles with direct implications for crop cultivation (e.g. soil-borne diseases, greenhouse gas emmissions, yield increase or decline).

BIOFUEL PRODUCTION FROM ALGAE:

We house a collection of Australian microalgae strains that are highly efficient producers of biodiesel and use a special non-GM breeding technique to further improve their performance. Cutting-edge molecular biology tools are used for metabolic engineering. Microalgae are likely the only renewable source of fuel that could match our current and future demand without competing for arable land and food production. For this reason, we are currently developing a low-cost algae cultivation module for a large-scale biorefinery.

Research Interests

  • Biofuel production from algae
    We use microalgae strains that are highly efficient producers of biodiesel and further optimise these by using cutting-edge molecular biology and metabolic engineering tools. Microalgae are likely the only renewable source of fuel that could match our current and future demand without competing for arable land and food production.
  • Microbial communities associated with plants
    We are using molecular profiling tools, such as functional gene microarrays and next generation sequencing, to characterise highly diverse microbial communities that are associated with plants to identify novel compounds for pharmaceutical and agricultural applications. This environmental transcriptomics (metatranscriptomics) approach captures microbial activity profiles with direct implications for crop cultivation (e.g. soil-borne diseases, greenhouse gas emissions, yield increase or decline).
  • Disease resistant plants
    We use a Functional Genomics and Biodiscovery approach to study beneficial and parasitic interactions of plants with microbes. Arabidopsis is used as a model plant to study signalling pathways that enable plants to withstand pathogen attack or severe drought. The up- or down-regulation of specific key regulatory genes has led to disease resistance and drought tolerance, and this strategy is used to improve crop species.

Qualifications

  • MPhil, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • PhD, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • Diploma in Biology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Publications

View all Publications

Available Projects

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Schenk, Peer M. (2014). Rapid cloning of genes and promoters for functional analyses. In Agnelo Furtado and Robert J. Henry (Ed.), Methods in molecular biology: cereal genomics (pp. 123-132) New York, United States: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-62703-715-0_11

  • Duong, Van Thang, Li, Yan, Nowak, Ekaterina and Schenk, Peer M. (2013). Microalgae isolation and selection for prospective biodiesel production. In Barnabas Gikonyo (Ed.), Advances in Biofuel Production: Algae and Aquatic Plants (pp. 257-276) Toronto, ON, Canada: Apple Academic Press. doi:10.1201/b16341

  • Ahmed, Faruq, Fanning, Kent, Schuhmann, Holger, Netzel, Michael and Schenk, Peer M. (2013). Microalgae: a valuable source of natural carotenoids with potential health benefits. In Masayoshi Yamaguchi (Ed.), Carotenoids: Food Sources, Production and Health Benefits (pp. 143-164) Hauppauge, NY, USA: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Schuhmann, Holger and Schenk, Peer M. (2013). Physiology, biochemistry and genetics of microalgal growth and lipid production. In Bharat P. Singh (Ed.), Biofuel crops: production, physiology and genetics (pp. 54-83) Wallingford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: CABI Publishing. doi:10.1079/9781845938857.0054

  • Carvalhais, Lilia C., Dennis, Paul G., Tyson, Gene W. and Schenk, Peer M. (2013). Rhizosphere Metatranscriptomics: Challenges and Opportunities. In Frans J. de Bruijn (Ed.), Molecular Microbial Ecology of the Rhizosphere (pp. 1137-1144) Hoboken, NJ United States: Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9781118297674.ch109

  • Schenk, Peer M. (2011). Isolation of mRNA from environmental microbial communities for metatranscriptomic analyses. In Frans J.de Bruijn (Ed.), Handbook of molecular microbial ecology I: Metagenomics and complementary approaches (pp. 569-574) Hoboken, NJ, United States: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Schenk, Peer M. (2011). Isolation of mRNA from environmental microbial communities for metatranscriptomic analyses. In Frans J. de Bruijn (Ed.), Metagenomics and Complementary Approaches (pp. 569-574) Hoboken, NJ, U.S.A.: John Wiley & Sons. doi:10.1002/9781118010518.ch62

  • Kazan, K. and Schenk, P. M. (2007). Genomics in induced resistance. In Walters, D., Newton, A. and Lyon, G. (Ed.), Induced Resistance for Plant Defence (pp. 31-64) Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Ahmed, F., Fanning, K., Netzel, M., Turner, W., Li, Y. and Schenk, P. M. (2013). Carotenoids and antioxidant capacity in microalgae from south-east Queensland, Australia. In: NSA 2013 ASM: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society of Australia (2013). NSA NSNZ 2013 Joint Annual Scientific Meeting: 37th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of Australia in conjunction with the Nutrition Society of New Zealand, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (654-654). 4-6 December, 2013.

  • Garg, Sourabh, Wang, Liguang and Schenk, Peer (2013). Effects of algal hydrophobicity and bubble size on flotation separation of microalgae from aqueous medium. In: Chemeca 2013: Challenging Tomorrow. Chemeca 2013: Australasian Conference on Chemical Engineering, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (1-5). 29 September-2 October, 2013.

  • Tilbrook, K., Gebbie, L. K., McQualter, R. B., Petrasovits, L. A., Schenk, P., Poirier, Y. and Brumbley, S. M. (2011). Peroxisomal polyhydroxyalkanoate biosynthesis is a promising strategy for bioplastic production in high biomass crops. In: 32nd Australasian Polymer Symposium Proceedings, The Novotel Pacific Bay Resort, Coffs Harbour, Australia, (). 13-16 February.

  • Tilbrook, Kimberley T., Poirier, Yves, McQualter, Richard B., Gnanasambandam, Annathurai, Schenk, Peer M. and Brumbley Stevens M. (2010). PHB production in plant peroxisomes. In: Abstracts for the Plant & Animal Genome XVIII Conference. Plant & Animal Genome XVIII Conference, San Diego, CA, United States, (). 9-13 January 2010.

  • McGrath, K., Brackin, R.T., Lakshmanan, P., Schenk, P.M.P. and Schmidt, S. (2008). Knowledge of soil biology to reduce nitrogen loss as N2O from sugarcane farming. In: Bruce, R.C., Proceedings of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologies. Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologies, Townsville, Australia, (115-126). 29 April - 2 May 2008.

  • Brumbley, S. M., Gnanasambandam, A., Schenk, P. and Tilbrook, K. (2008). Peroxisomal PHB production in plants. In: International Symposium on Biological Polyesters, Auckland, NZ, (). 23-28 November 2008.

  • Schenk, P.M.P., Thomas-Hall, S.R., Nguyen, A.V., Malnoe, A., Timmins, M., Stephens, E., Mussgnug, J.H., Rupprecht, J., Kruse, O. and Hankamer, B. (2008). Transcriptional profiling of photosynthetic genes during photo-biological hydrogen production in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. In: WHEC2008. 17th World Hydrogen Energy Conference, Brisbane, Qld, Australia, (108-111). 15-19 June, 2008.

  • Hankamer, B., Schenk, P., Marx, U., Posten, C. and Kruse, O. (2007). The Solar Bio-fuels consortium: Developing advanced bio-fuel production systems. In: Photosynthesis Research: Abstracts: 14th International Congress of Photosynthesis. 14th International Congress of Photosynthesis, Glasgow, Scotland, (136-136). 22-27 July 2007. doi:10.1007/s11120-007-9197-6

  • Manners, J., Kazan, K., McGrath, K., Dombrecht, B., Edgar, C., Thomas-Hall, S., Schenk, P. M. and Desmond, O. (2005). Transcription factor genes controlling plant defence. In: Prof Clem Robinson, ComBio2005 Combined Conference Abstracts. ComBio2005, Adelaide Convention Centre, (45-45). 25 - 29 September, 2005.

  • McGrath, K. C., Kazan, K., Schenk, P. M. P., Manners, J. and Maclean, D. J. (2004). AtERF2 is a positive regulator of defence gene expression in Arabidopsis. In: I.Witt, International Conference on Arabidopsis Research. International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, Berlin, (). 11-14 July, 2004.

  • Schenk, P. M. P., Anderson, J., Badruzsaufari, B., Desmond, O. J., Thomas-Hall, S. R., McGrath, K. C., Timmins, M., Maclean, D. J., Ebert, P. R., Manners, J. and Kazan, K. (2004). Plant defence signaling in Arabidopsis. In: C. Robinson, ComBio 2004. ComBio2004, Perth, Australia, (30). 26-30 September, 2004.

  • Desmond, O. J., Kazan, K., Manners, J., Schenk, P. M. P. and Maclean, D. J. (2004). Wheat Defence responses induced by Fusarium pseudograminearum. In: C. Robinson, ComBio 2004. ComBio2004, Perth, Australia, (89). 26-30 September, 2004.

  • Remans, T., Schenk, P. M., Elliot, A. R., Sagi, L., Geering, A. D., McMichael, L. A., Thomas, J.E., Swennen, R. L., Grof, C. P., Manners, J. and Ebert, P.R. (1999). Promoters from Australian Banana streak Badna-Virus (BSV) isolates drive transgene expression in Banana, Sugarcane and Tobacco. In: Combined Conference Abstracts: 43rd Annual ASBMB, 18th Annual ANZSCDB and 39th Annual ASPP. ComBio 99, Conrad Jupiters, Gold Coast, (Pos-Wed-04). 27-30 September, 1999.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal 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.