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Professor Rob Harding

Science and Engineering Faculty,
Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences,
Genetics & Biotechnology

Personal

Name
Professor Rob Harding
Position(s)
Professor
Science and Engineering Faculty,
Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences,
Genetics & Biotechnology
Discipline *
Agricultural Biotechnology, Crop and Pasture Production, Microbiology
Phone
+61 7 3138 1379
Fax
+61 7 3138 1535
Email
Location
View location details (QUT staff and student access only)
Identifiers and profiles
ORCID iD
Qualifications

PhD (University of Queensland), BSc(Hons) (University of Queensland), BSc (University of Queensland)

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Australiasian Plant Pathology Society
  • Australian Society for Microbiology
Keywords

Banana, Plant Pathology, Disease Resistance, Biofortification, Genetic Engineering, Viruses

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008

Biography

Biography: Rob Harding has been involved in agricultural research for more than 20 years. His research initially focussed on the characterisation of plant viruses and the development of diagnostics, and from this work he has identified, characterised and patented a suite of promoters for transgene expression. During the last 10 years, his research focus has been directed towards the control of important viral (potyviruses, geminiviruses, nanoviruses, caulimoviruses and reoviruses) and fungal (Fusarium) pathogens affecting tropical/subtropical plants (banana, sugarcane, sweetpotato, taro and yam), particularly through the development of transgenic disease resistance. A variety of different conventional and novel strategies have been utilised including gene silencing (viruses), and the use of plant R genes and stress tolerance genes. As part of a research team, he has developed a range of biotechnology methods and products for expressing genes in transgenic plants, a number of which have been patented. For example, he is a co–inventor of InPAct, a novel platform technology for controlled, high level transgene expression in plants which has widespread applications ranging from disease resistance to molecular farming. He has also been involved in research and development programs in south–east Asia, including R&D programs involving sweetpotato and taro viruses. More recently, he has been involved in a Bill and Melinda Gates-funded project which aims to generate micronutrient-biofortified bananas for East Africans.

Research theme: Food, Health

Research discipline: Cell & Molecular Biosciences

Research program: Tropical Crops & Biocommodities

Research area

Characterisation and transgenic control of geminiviruses and nanoviruses: Single-stranded DNA viruses (geminiviruses and nanoviruses) cause some of the most important plant diseases worldwide including banana bunchy top and tomato yellow leaf curl. There are currently no effective control measures available. We are investigating the replication strategy of these viruses and are exploiting this mechanism to develop novel transgenic resistance strategies.

Transgenic control of banana fungal diseases: Bananas are one of the world’s most important staple food crops but production is severely limited by a range of diseases. This research focuses on the potential use of stress-tolerance genes and plant-derived R genes to generate transgenic resistance against fungal diseases, such as Fusarium wilt, in bananas.

Enhancement of nutrient levels in Ugandan bananas by genetic modification: Bananas are a staple food in Uganda but are deficient in many nutrients which results in malnutrition. We are spear-heading an international effort to genetically engineer nutritionally fortified bananas (increased levels of Vitamin A and iron) for release to farmers in Uganda.

Areas of expertise

  • Characterisation of plant viruses
  • Transgenic control of plant pathogens
  • Molecular farming

Selected research projects

  • Characterisation and transgenic control of geminiviruses and nanoviruses
  • Transgenic control of banana fungal diseases
  • Enhancement of nutrient levels in Ugandan bananas by genetic modification

This information has been contributed by Professor Rob Harding.

Teaching

Teaching discipline: Cell & Molecular Biosciences

Teaching areas:

  • Virology
  • Plant Biotechnology
This information has been contributed by Professor Rob Harding.

Experience

Professional Experience: 

  • 2011 Professor in Plant Biotechnology, School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
  • 2002 Associate Professor in Plant Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences
  • 2000 Associate Director (Commercialisation), Centre for Molecular Biotechnology
  • 1998 Head of Microbiology, School of Life Sciences, QUT
  • 1997 Senior Lecturer, School of Life Sciences, QUT
  • 1991 Lecturer, School of Life Sciences, QUT
  • 1990 Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Life Sciences, QUT
This information has been contributed by Professor Rob Harding.

Publications


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.

Research projects

Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)

Title
A platform for the continuous genetic improvement of accepted cultivars of vegetatively propagated horticultural crops (HAL)
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
AI13008
Start year
2013
Keywords
Bananas; Cisgenics; Intergenerational Transgene Stability; Marker Free Transformation; Potatoes
Title
Generation of Bananas with Resistance to Fusarium Wilt
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
LP110100186
Start year
2011
Keywords
Fusarium Wilt; Apoptosis Genes; R Genes; Banana
Title
Extreme Expression: Building a Platform for Industrial Plant Biotechnology
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
FS100100083
Start year
2011
Keywords
Biofarming; Transgene Expression; Silencing; Inducible Expression
Title
Plant Transformation: Exploiting Anti-Apoptosis Genes for Very High Efficiency Transformation
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP0773649
Start year
2007
Keywords
Plant transformation; Apoptosis; Agrobacterium; Monocots; Gene silencing; Inducible promoters;
Title
Manipulation of Apoptosis-Related Genes to Generate Novel Disease Resistances in Bananas
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP0559687
Start year
2005
Keywords
Apoptosis Disease Resistance Transgenic bananas Fungal diseases Viral diseases Transgene expression
Title
Generating Broad and Stable Resistance to Gemini- and Nanoviruses
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP0453273
Start year
2004
Keywords
Trangenic Resistance; Nanovirus; Geminiviruses; Suicide Gene

Supervision