Dr Emma Mace

Senior Research Fellow

Centre for Crop Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
emma.mace@uq.edu.au
+61 7 4542 6729

Overview

Dr Emma Mace’s research interest is in developing and applying innovative genomics approaches to support sorghum improvement activities.

In Dr Mace’s current role leading sorghum genomics research components of research projects funded by the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Global Crop Diversity Trust, her work focuses on generating significant innovative outcomes across a range of applications, from basic through to applied, specifically in using technologies to bridge the gene to phenotype gap, and to elucidate the genetic basis of quantitative and qualitative traits.

Research Interests

  • Sorghum
  • Genomics

Research Impacts

Australia produces at least 2 million tonnes of grain sorghum each year. Sorghum is one of the most diverse crop species with great potential for improvement in yield, drought resistance, insect resistance and grain quality. An understanding of the genetic control of key characteristics provides plant breeders with new opportunities to increase the rate of genetic gain and breed new improved genotypes. However, the complexity of gene function determination remains one of the major challenges facing plant biologists today, despite the development and application of new technologies, including high throughput genotyping and next-generation sequencing.

The UQ sorghum genomics team, together with researchers at DAF, are using an integrated set of technologies and germplasm collections to enhance gene function determination in sorghum.

Our capacity: marker-assisted selection, genomic selection and mapping

Applications

• high resolution genetic mapping for quantitative traits and identification of beneficial alleles

• development of customised SNP markers for target traits for Marker Assisted Selection

• development of whole-genome prediction models for applying genomic selection for target traits

The integrated application of new technologies and resources within the sorghum breeding program is being used in a range of research projects investigating a range of crop trait characteristics including drought tolerance, grain size, photosynthesis and grain yield.

Qualifications

  • PhD (Plant Genetics), University of Birmingham, UK
  • Master of Science (Plant Genetics), University of Birmingham, UK
  • Bachelor of Science (Biology), University of Nottingham, UK

Publications

  • Tao, Yongfu, Luo, Hong, Xu, Jiabao, Cruickshank, Alan, Zhao, Xianrong, Teng, Fei, Hathorn, Adrian, Wu, Xiaoyuan, Liu, Yuanming, Shatte, Tracey, Jordan, David, Jing, Haichun and Mace, Emma (2021). Extensive variation within the pan-genome of cultivated and wild sorghum. Nature Plants, 7 (6), 766-773. doi: 10.1038/s41477-021-00925-x

  • Thudi, Mahendar, Palakurthi, Ramesh, Schnable, James C., Chitikineni, Annapurna, Dreisigacker, Susanne, Mace, Emma, Srivastava, Rakesh K., Satyavathi, C. Tara, Odeny, Damaris, Tiwari, Vijay K., Lam, Hon-Ming, Hong, Yan Bin, Singh, Vikas K., Li, Guowei, Xu, Yunbi, Chen, Xiaoping, Kaila, Sanjay, Nguyen, Henry, Sivasankar, Sobhana, Jackson, Scott A., Close, Timothy J., Shubo, Wan and Varshney, Rajeev K. (2021). Genomic resources in plant breeding for sustainable agriculture. Journal of Plant Physiology, 257 153351, 1-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2020.153351

  • Borrell, Andrew, van Oosterom, Erik, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Rodriguez, Daniel, Eyre, Joe, Jordan, David J., Mace, Emma, Singh, Vijaya, Vadez, Vincent, Bell, Mike, Godwin, Ian, Cruickshank, Alan, Tao, Yongfu and Hammer, Graeme (2021). Sorghum. Crop physiology applications for genetic improvement and Agronomy. (pp. 196-221) edited by V. Sadras and D. Calderini. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-819194-1.00005-0

View all Publications

Grants

View all Grants

Supervision

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • Overall Research Project

    The Hy-Gain project (Hy-Gain), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a multi-party international research project comprising seven world leading teams aiming to develop a novel technology to increase seed yield and productivity in sorghum and cowpea crops for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. This exciting 5-year project, is led by QAAFI with the project director, Prof Anna Koltunow, based in the Centre for Crop Science. Hy-Gain aims to ensure the technology is compatible with plant breeding to support the future, rapid delivery of new high yielding sorghum and cowpea hybrids and improved varieties. Hy-Gain involves research work at multiple sites in Queensland (Hermitage at Warwick; Gatton and St. Lucia) and collaboration with five international research organisations and a multinational seed company. The project has some fundamental discovery work, however its key aim is building and testing the utility of the technology in plants under controlled glasshouse and field conditions with evaluations involving input from African sorghum and cowpea breeders. The research objectives span molecular work in the laboratory to field work involving genetic, genomic and transgenic technologies and testing reproductive productivity of plants in glasshouse and in the field. Communication and collaboration between the parties to efficiently achieve goals, protection of discoveries, dissemination of data to the public via scientific publications and web-based media are important outcomes of the project.

    PhD Scholarship Project

    Heterosis, or hybrid vigour, is agronomically very important however the mechanisms of heterosis are poorly understood. Quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum, including yield related traits, are under complex genetic control and have also been shown to interact with chromatin structure, differential gene expression and presence/absence variation. This project will characterise the chromatin structure in sorghum and investigate the association between chromatin type and structural variation, using data identified in the sorghum pan-genome. The project will further identify genomic regions, and candidate genes, associated with heterosis using a large diversity panel, to investigate which portions of the genome contribute to quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum. The candidate genes will be further investigated for differential gene expression between hybrids and parent samples from the diversity panel. Several features of sorghum, including its high genetic diversity, relatively small diploid genome, availability of extensive genomic resources, including a pan-genome, make it an excellent experimental system to explore the genome landscape of heterosis and to explore the impact of structural variation and chromatin type on heterosis. This PhD is based at Warwick, Qld.

    Eligibility

    To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Borrell, Andrew, van Oosterom, Erik, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Rodriguez, Daniel, Eyre, Joe, Jordan, David J., Mace, Emma, Singh, Vijaya, Vadez, Vincent, Bell, Mike, Godwin, Ian, Cruickshank, Alan, Tao, Yongfu and Hammer, Graeme (2021). Sorghum. Crop physiology applications for genetic improvement and Agronomy. (pp. 196-221) edited by V. Sadras and D. Calderini. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-819194-1.00005-0

  • Joshi, Dinesh, Singh, Vijaya, van Oosterom, Erik, Mace, Emma, Jordan, David and Hammer, Graeme (2016). Genetic manipulation of root system architecture to improve drought adaptation in sorghum. The sorghum genome. (pp. 207-226) edited by Rakshit, Sujay and Wang, Yi-Hong. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-47789-3_11

  • Mace, E. S., Mathur, P. N., Godwin, I. D., Hunter, D., Taylor, M. B., Singh, D., DeLacy, I. H. and Jackson, G. V. H. (2010). Development of a regional core collection (Oceania) for taro, Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott, based on molecular and phenotypic characterization. The Global Diversity of Taro: Ethnobotany and Conservation. (pp. 185-201) edited by V. Ramanatha Rao, P. J. Matthews, P. B. Eyzaguirre and D. Hunter. Rome, Italy: Bioversity International.

  • Paterson, Andrew H., Stalker, H. Thomas, Meagher, Maria, Burow, Mark D., Dwivedi, Sangam L., Crouch, Jonathan H. and Mace, Emma S. (2004). Genomics and genetic enhancement of peanut. Legume Crop Genomics. (pp. 97-109) edited by Richard F. Wilson, H. Thomas Stalker and E. Charles Brummer. Champaign, United States: AOCS Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Borrell, Andrew, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Oosterom, Erik van, Hammer, Graeme, Mace, Emma, Godwin, Ian, Liu, Guoquan, Wong, Albert, Matiwos, Temesgen, Bantte, Kassahun, Christopher, Jack, Hickey, Lee, Richard, Cecile, Robinson, Hannah and Jordan, David (2020). How do crops balance water supply and demand when water is limiting?. The Third International Tropical Agriculture Conference TropAg 2019 , Brisbane, QLD Australia, 11–13 November 2019. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI. doi: 10.3390/proceedings2019036208

  • Watson-Lasowski, Alexander, Cano, Francisco Javier, Warren, Charles, Koller, Fiona, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Mace, Emma, Jordan, David and Ghannoum, Oula (2019). Basking in the heat vs. burning out: elucidating the difference between successful and unsuccessful acclimations to heat shock using two contrasting Sorghum bicolor genotypes. Innovations in Agriculture for Food Security, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia, 30 June - 3 July 2019.

  • Borrell, Andrew, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, van Oosterom, Erik, Hammer, Graeme, Mace, Emma, Godwin, Ian, Liu, G., Wong, Albert, Temesgen, M., Kassahun, B., Christopher, Jack, Hickey, Lee, Richard, Cecile, Robinson, Hannah and Jordan, David (2019). Canopy and root plasticity for drought adaptation in cereals. Climate Change Linked Stress Tolerance in Plants (M4) (Keystone Symposia), Herrenhausen Palace, Hannover, Germany, 13-16 May 2019.

  • Potgieter, Andries, Laws, Kenneth, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Hunt, Colleen, Guo, Wei, Reynolds Massey-Reed, Sean, Chapman, Scott, Borrell, Andrew, Mace, Emma, Hammer, Graeme and Jordan, David (2019). Predicting lodging using sensing technologies to enhance selection in sorghum breeding trials. 6th International Plant Phenotyping Symposium, Nanjing, China, 22-26 October 2019.

  • Borrell, Andrew, Fraija, Juan, Wang, Rui, Hunt, Colleen, Jordan, David, Mace, Emma, Ghannoum, Oula, Cano, F. Javier, Pan, Ling and George-Jaeggli, Barbara (2019). Variation in leaf vein density in sorghum and implications for C4 photosynthesis. Innovations in Agriculture for Food Security, Brisbane, Australia, 30 June - 3 July 2019.

  • Borrell, Andrew, Fraija, Juan, Wang, Rui, Hunt, Colleen, Jordan, David, Mace, Emma, Tao. Yongfu, Ghannoum, Oula, Cano, Francisco Javier, Pan, Ling and George-Jaeggli, Barbara (2019). Variation in leaf vein density in sorghum and implications for C4 photosynthesis. Innovations in Agriculture for Food Security, Brisbane, Australia, 30 June - 3 July.

  • Shipp, Jessica, Mace, Emma, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Tao, Yongfu, Cruickshank, Alan, Jordan, David and Roberts, T. (2019). What is the cellular basis for seed size differences in sorghum?. Australian Summer Grains Conference (ASGC 2019), Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, 8-10 July 2019.

  • Potgieter, Andries B., Watson, James, Eldridge, Mark, Laws, Kenneth, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Hunt, Colleen, Borrell, Andrew, Mace, Emma, Chapman, Scott C., Jordan, David R. and Hammer, Graeme L. (2018). Determining crop growth dynamics in sorghum breeding trials through remote and proximal sensing technologies. 38th IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), Valencia, Spain, Jul 22-27, 2018. NEW YORK: IEEE. doi: 10.1109/IGARSS.2018.8519296

  • George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Potgieter, Andries, James, Watson, Chapman, Scott, Zheng, Bangyou, Eldridge, Mark, Laws, Kenneth, Mace, Emma, Hunt, Colleen, Hathorn, Adrian, Borrell, Andrew, Hammer, Graeme and Jordan, David (2018). Trial results - Tactical agronomy for sorghum and maize and agronomy for high yielding sorghum and wheat in the northern region. 2nd Asia-Pacific Plant Phenotyping Conference, Nanjing, China, 23- 25 March 2018.

  • Borrell, Andrew, Fraija, Juan, Wang, Rui, Hunt, Colleen, Mace, Emma, Jordan, David and George-Jaeggli, Barbara (2018). Variation in Leaf Vein Density (LVD) in sorghum: leaf anatomy and C4 photosynthesis. Variation in Leaf Vein Density (LVD) in sorghum: leaf anatomy and C4 photosynthesis, Redcliffe, QLD, Australia, 17-18 July 2018.

  • Borrell, A. K., George-Jaeggli, B., van Oosterom, E. J., Mace, E. S., Jordan, D. R., Kassahun, B., Matiwos, T., Vadez, V., Talwar, H., Christopher, J. T., Chenu, K., Richard, C., Robinson, H., Hickey, L., Nagothu, S. U. and Hammer, G. L. (2017). Adapting cereals to drought: genetic and management solutions. TropAg2017, International Tropical Agriculture Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 20-22 November 2017. Trop Ag.

  • George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Potgieter, Andries, Chapman, Scott, Laws, Kenneth, Watson, James, Eldridge, Mark, van Oosterom, Erik, Geetika, Geetika, Mace, Emma, Hathorn, Adrian, Hunt, Collen, Borrell, Andrew, von Caemmerer, Susanne, Hammer, Graeme and Jordan, David (2017). High-throughput phenotyping and genotyping of variation in photosynthesis traits for increased crop yields. Chloroplast Metabolism and Photosynthesis Symposium, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 26-28 July 2017.

  • Jordan, D., Mace, E., Borrell, A., Cruickshank, A., Chapman, S., van Oosterom, E. and Hammer, G. (2013). An Integrated Approach to Sorghum Crop Improvement in Australia. 4th International Conference on Integrated Approaches to Improve Crop Production under Drought-Prone Environments (InterDrought-IV), Perth, WA, Australia, 2 - 6 September 2013.

  • Borrell, A., Hammer, G., Van Oosterom, E., George-Jaeggli, B., McLean, G., Hamlet, S., Hunt, C., Mace, E., Mullet, J., Klein, P., Weers, B. and Jordan, D. (2013). Improving cereal productivity with stay-green technology.. 2013 QAAFI Annual Research Meeting, Brisbane, Australia, 6-7 August 2013.

  • Singh, V., van Oosterom, E. J., Jordan, D. R., Mace, E., Colleen, H. and Hammer, G. L. (2013). Nodal root angle in Sorghum and its association with drought adaptation. 30th Interdisciplinary Plant Group Symposium, Columbia Missouri, United States, 29 - 31 May 2013.

  • Jordan, D., Mace, E. and Borrell, A. (2013). Sorghum crop improvement in Australia: integrating breeding, genomics, physiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and simulation modelling. 2013 Annual Meeting of the Sorghum Research Institute, Liaoning Academy of Agricultural Science, Shenyang, China, 28-30 January, 2013.

  • Franckowiak, J., Platz, G., Lawson, W., Killian, A, Fox, G., Kelly, A., Mace, E. and Jordan, D. (2011). Management of traits and genes involved in adaptation of barley to north-eastern Australia. 16th Australian Barley Technical Symposium, Adelaide, Australia, 18-21 September 2011.

  • Singh, Vijaya, van Oosterom, Erik, Jordan, David, Mace, Emma and Hammer, Graeme (2010). Genetic control of root system architecture in sorghum and its implications on water extraction. Agro2010 XIth ESA Congress, Montpellier, France, 29 August - 3 September, 2010. Montpellier, France: Agropolis International Editions.

  • Lawson, W., Mace, E., Collard, B., Fox, G., Kelly, A., Sutherland, M. and Franckowiak, J. (2010). Investigating the molecular genetics of malt and feed quality traits in barley. 6th Canadian Barley Technical Symposium, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, 25-28 July 2010. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada: University of Saskatchewan.

  • Bovill, J. H., Lehmensiek, A., McNamara, B., Wildermuth, G. B., Platz, G., Mace, E. and Sutherland, M. W. (2007). The identification and validation of QTLs conferring resistance to spot blotch and common root rot in barley. ST PAUL: AMER PHYTOPATHOLOGICAL SOC.

  • Christopher, M, Mace, E, Jordan, D, Rodgers, D, McGowan, P, Delacy, I, Banks, P, Sheppard, J, Butler, D and Poulsen, D (2007). Applications of pedigree-based genome mapping in wheat and barley breeding programs. 13th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference, Christchurch, NEW ZEALAND, 18-21 Apr 2006. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. doi: 10.1007/s10681-006-9199-z

  • Christopher, Mandy J., Mace, Emma, Jordan, David, Rodgers, David, McGowan, Paul, DeLacy, Ian H., Banks, Phillip M., Sheppard, John., Butler, David G. and Poulsen, David (2006). Applications of pedigree-based genome mapping in wheat and barley breeding programs. 13th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand, 18-21 April 2006. Dunedin, New Zealand: New Zealand Grassland Association.

  • Chapman, S. C., Doherty, A., Hammer, G. L., Jordan, D., Mace, E. and Van Oosterom, E. J. (2006). Predicting flowering time in sorghum using a simple gene network: functional physiology or fictional functionality?. 5th Australian Sorghum Conference, Gold Coast, 30 January - 2 February 2006. Toowoomba, QLD, Australia: Range Media.

  • Crouch, JH, Buhariwalla, HK, Blair, M, Mace, E, Jayasharee, B and Serraj, R (2004). Biotechnology-based contributions to enhancing legume productivity in resource-poor areas. International Workshop on the Biological Nitrogen Fixation for Increased Crop Productivity, Montpellier France, Jul 10-14, 2002. ENFIELD: SCIENCE PUBLISHERS INC.

  • Hadkins, ES, Lester, RN and Maxted, N (1995). The European Solanaceae Information Network. 1st International Symposium on Solanacea for Fresh Market, Malaga Spain, Mar 28-31, 1995. LEUVEN 1: INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY HORTICULTURAL SCIENCE. doi: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1995.412.7

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

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.

  • Overall Research Project

    The Hy-Gain project (Hy-Gain), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a multi-party international research project comprising seven world leading teams aiming to develop a novel technology to increase seed yield and productivity in sorghum and cowpea crops for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. This exciting 5-year project, is led by QAAFI with the project director, Prof Anna Koltunow, based in the Centre for Crop Science. Hy-Gain aims to ensure the technology is compatible with plant breeding to support the future, rapid delivery of new high yielding sorghum and cowpea hybrids and improved varieties. Hy-Gain involves research work at multiple sites in Queensland (Hermitage at Warwick; Gatton and St. Lucia) and collaboration with five international research organisations and a multinational seed company. The project has some fundamental discovery work, however its key aim is building and testing the utility of the technology in plants under controlled glasshouse and field conditions with evaluations involving input from African sorghum and cowpea breeders. The research objectives span molecular work in the laboratory to field work involving genetic, genomic and transgenic technologies and testing reproductive productivity of plants in glasshouse and in the field. Communication and collaboration between the parties to efficiently achieve goals, protection of discoveries, dissemination of data to the public via scientific publications and web-based media are important outcomes of the project.

    PhD Scholarship Project

    Heterosis, or hybrid vigour, is agronomically very important however the mechanisms of heterosis are poorly understood. Quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum, including yield related traits, are under complex genetic control and have also been shown to interact with chromatin structure, differential gene expression and presence/absence variation. This project will characterise the chromatin structure in sorghum and investigate the association between chromatin type and structural variation, using data identified in the sorghum pan-genome. The project will further identify genomic regions, and candidate genes, associated with heterosis using a large diversity panel, to investigate which portions of the genome contribute to quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum. The candidate genes will be further investigated for differential gene expression between hybrids and parent samples from the diversity panel. Several features of sorghum, including its high genetic diversity, relatively small diploid genome, availability of extensive genomic resources, including a pan-genome, make it an excellent experimental system to explore the genome landscape of heterosis and to explore the impact of structural variation and chromatin type on heterosis. This PhD is based at Warwick, Qld.

    Eligibility

    To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.