Dr Lee Hickey

Senior Research Fellow

Centre for Crop Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
+61 7 336 54805


Dr Hickey leads a research team situated within the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at UQ, Brisbane, Australia. His lab conducts genetic studies on key biotic (foliar and soil-borne diseases) and abiotic (drought and heat) factors that limit production of wheat and barley, and develops novel breeding tools and methodologies. Over the past nine years, Dr Lee Hickey has played a pivotal role in developing 'Speed Breeding': the rapid generation advance technology for spring wheat, to achieve an impressive six plant generations annually. His programme routinely applies speed breeding in combination with multi-trait phenotypic screening protocols to rapidly assemble novel germplasm.

Dr Hickey supervises 13 PhD students and collaborates with scientists around the world, including teams in the UK, Mexico, Germany, USA, Uruguay, Morocco and Russia. His impactful science is generating strong community, government and industry interest, and outcomes from his research have received wide media coverage. He loves to use social media to promote and communicate science to the public.

Check out the Hickey Lab website here

Follow me on Twitter: @DrHikov

Research Interests

  • Understanding genetic resistance to pathogens that attack wheat and barley
  • Application of nested association mapping to dissect the genetics of complex traits
  • Speed breeding techniques to accelerate genetic gain and reduce the length of breeding cycles
  • Across cereal genomics and application of sequencing technologies
  • Integration of breeding technologies to accelerate genetic gain in breeding programs
  • Genomic selection breeding strategies

Research Impacts

Farming in 2030

Dr Lee Hickey's version of 2030 features robots, drones and intelligent machines as common place on farms, helping to reduce labour costs and chemical use. Listen to Dr Hickey discussing the future of farming.

Ancient genes to protect modern wheat

First genetic analysis of wheat landraces from the Vavilov seed bank in St Petersburg, Russia. Listen to the ABC Radio interview here.

Digging deep to drought-proof Australian barley

Discovery of a major gene influencing narrow root growth that may be useful for improving drought adaptation of barley crops. Full story here.

Barley Armed with Rust Defence

A three year international collaborative research project headed by the University of Queensland has led to the discovery of a gene to protect barley crops against the fungal disease, leaf rust, which will allow breedeers to arm barley with a genetic defence against the disease. Read more in this article from Queensland Country Life.

Speed Breeding to Develop Rust-Proof Wheat

Researchers at the University of Queensland used "speed breeding" techniques to dramatically reduce the time required to introduce new genes into an existing crop variety. The technique of growing plants under constant light was inspired by NASA who were intending to grow wheat on long space missions. Listen to the ABC radio interview.


  • Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours Clas, The University of Queensland
  • Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation, The University of Queensland
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland


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Book Chapter

  • Voss-Fels, Kai P., Herzog, Eva, Dreisigacker, Susanne, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Watson, Amy, Frisch, Matthias, Hayes, Ben and Hickey, Lee T. (2019). “SpeedGS” to accelerate genetic gain in spring wheat. In Thomas Miedaner and Viktor Korzun (Ed.), Applications of genetic and genomic research in cereals (pp. 303-327) Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/b978-0-08-102163-7.00014-4

  • Riaz, Adnan and Hickey, Lee T. (2017). Rapid phenotyping adult plant resistance to stem rust in wheat grown under controlled conditions. In Sambasivam Periyannan (Ed.), Wheat rust diseases: methods and protocols (pp. 183-196) New York, NY, United States: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-7249-4_16

  • Mackay, M. C., Street, K. A. and Hickey, L. T. (2016). Toward more effective discovery and deployment of novel plant genetic variation: reflection and future directions. In Abdallah Bari, Ardeshir B. Damania, Michael Mackay and Selvadurai Dayanandan (Ed.), Applied mathematics and omics to assess crop genetic resources for climate change adaptive traits (pp. 139-150) Boca Raton, FL, United States: Taylor & Francis Group. doi:10.1201/b19518-16

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision