The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

Ipsum Lorem

Timothy Colmer

W/Prof Timothy Colmer

Head of School
School of Plant Biology

Contact details
School of Plant Biology
The University of Western Australia (M084)
35 Stirling Highway
6488 1993
6488 1108
Room 1.106, Agriculture Central Wing Building, Crawley campus
BSc(Agric) W.Aust., PhD Calif.
Key research
The focus of our research is on physiological and biochemical traits associated with plant adaptation to salinity and flooding, and the regulation of these traits. Processes at the cellular to eco-physiological levels are studied. Current projects investigate: (i) anoxia tolerance using rice coleoptiles as a model system, (ii) anoxia tolerance in wheat, (iii) O2 movement in aerenchyma and radial O2 loss from roots of crops (esp. rice and wheat) and wetland plants (including ‘wild’ Triticeae), and (iv) regulation of organic solutes and ions (Na+, Cl-, K+) in crop species and Australian halophytes exposed to salinity.
Multi-disciplinary projects are conducted in collaboration with key Local, National and International groups. An important example is research in collaboration with Dr. Rafiq Islam (Cytogenetics; Adelaide University) to transfer traits associated with salinity- and waterlogging-tolerance from Hordeum marinum into bread wheat. PhD students ‘drive’ several of the research projects, and are encouraged to collaborate with others. As examples, during the past three years PhD students have spent several months in Sweden, Germany or Queensland; and have also collaborated with visiting scientists from Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Russia, India, and the UK).
In collaboration with Dr. Louise Barton, we have established a research program with the WA Turf Industry with the aim to achieve best practices in turf irrigation and nutrient management. Aspects related to the physiology of plant water use, drought tolerance and nutrition, and solute movement and other processes in soils, have been examined.
Malik AI, Colmer TD, Lambers H, Setter TL, Schortemeyer M. 2003. Aerenchyma formation and
radial O2 loss along adventitious roots of wheat with only the apical root portion exposed to O2-
deficiency. Plant, Cell and Environment 26: In press
Huang S, Greenway H, Colmer TD. 2003. Anoxia tolerance in rice seedlings: exogenous glucose
improves growth of an anoxia-‘intolerant’, but not of a -‘tolerant’, genotype. Journal of Experimental Botany 54: In press.
Pathan SM, Aylmore LAG, Colmer TD. 2003. Soil properties and turf growth on a sandy soil
amended with fly ash. Plant and Soil : In press.
Garthwaite AJ, von Bothmer R, Colmer TD. 2003. Diversity in root aeration traits associated with
waterlogging tolerance in the genus Hordeum. Functional Plant Biology 30: 875-889.
Colmer TD. 2003. Long-distance transport of gases in plants: a perspective on internal aeration
and radial oxygen loss from roots. Plant, Cell and Environment 26: 17-36.
Colmer TD. 2003. Aerenchyma and an inducible barrier to radial oxygen loss facilitate root aeration in upland, paddy and deepwater rice (Oryza sativa L.). Annals of Botany 91: 301-309
Huang S, Greenway H, Colmer TD. 2003. Responses by coleoptiles of intact seedlings to anoxia: K+
net uptake from the external solution and translocation from the caryopses. Annals of Botany 91:
Voesenek LACJ, Jackson MB, Toebes AHW, Huibers W, Vriezen WH, Colmer TD. 2003. De-
submergence-induced ethylene production in Rumex palustris: regulation and ecophysiological
significance. The Plant Journal 33: 341-352.
Makela P, Munns R, Colmer TD, Peltonen-Sainio P. 2003. Growth of tomato and an ABA-deficient
mutant (sitiens) under saline conditions. Physiologia Plantarum 117: 58-63.
Pathan SM, Aylmore LAG, Colmer TD. 2003. Properties of several fly ash materials in relation to use
as soil amendments. Journal of Environmental Quality 32: 687-693.
McDonald MP, Galwey NW, Colmer TD. 2002. Similarity and diversity in adventitious root
anatomy as related to root aeration among a range of wet- and dry-land grass species. Plant,
Cell and Environment 25: 441-451.
Pathan SM, Aylmore LAG, Colmer TD. 2002. Reduced leaching of nitrate, ammonium, and
phosphorus in a sandy soil by fly ash amendment. Australian Journal of Soil Research 40: 1201-
Rubinigg M, Stulen I, Elzenga JTM, Colmer TD. 2002. Spatial patterns of radial oxygen loss and
nitrate net flux along adventitious roots of rice raised in aerated or stagnant solution. Functional
Plant Biology 29: 1475-1481.
Malik AI, Colmer TD, Lambers H, Setter TL, Schortemeyer M. 2002. Short-term waterlogging has
long-term effects on the growth and physiology of wheat. New Phytologist 153: 225-236.
Malik AI, Colmer TD, Lambers H, Schortemeyer M. 2001. Changes in
physiological and morphological traits of roots and shoots of wheat in response to
different depths of waterlogging. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 28: 1121-
Gibberd MR, Gray JD, Cocks PS, Colmer TD. 2001. Waterlogging tolerance among a
diverse range of Trifolium accessions is related to root porosity, lateral root formation and
‘aerotrophic rooting’. Annals of Botany 88: 579-589.
Colmer TD, Huang S, Greenway H. 2001. Evidence for down regulation of ethanolic
fermentation and K+ effluxes in the coleoptile of rice seedlings during prolonged anoxia.
Journal of Experimental Botany 52: 1507-1517.
Pathan SM, Aylmore LAG, Colmer TD. 2001. Fly ash amendment of sandy soil to
improve water and nutrient use efficiency in turf culture. International Turfgrass Society
Research Journal 9: 33-39.
McDonald MP, Galwey NW, Colmer TD. 2001. Evaluation of Lophopyrum elongatum as
a source of genetic diversity to increase the waterlogging tolerance of hexaploid wheat
(Triticum aestivum). New Phytologist 151: 369-380.
McDonald MP, Galwey NW, Colmer TD. 2001. Waterlogging tolerance in the tribe
Triticeae: the adventitious roots of Critesion marinum have a relatively high porosity and
a barrier to radial oxygen loss. Plant, Cell and Environment 24: 585-596.
McDonald MP, Galwey NW, Ellneskog-Staam P, Colmer TD. 2001. Differential effects
on growth and development of individual chromosomes from slow growing Lophopyrum
elongatum Love when incorporated into wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Annals of Botany
88: 215-223.
Visser EJW, Colmer TD, Blom CWPM, Voesenek LACJ. 2000. Changes in growth,
porosity, and radial oxygen loss from adventitious roots of selected mono- and di-
cotyledonous wetland species with contrasting types of aerenchyma. Plant, Cell and
Environment 23: 1237-1245.
Colmer TD, Corradini F, Cawthray G, Otte ML. 2000. Analysis of
dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), betaines, and other organic solutes in plant tissue
extracts using HPLC. Phytochemical Analysis 11: 163-168.
Gibberd MR, Colmer TD, Cocks PS. 1999. Root porosity and oxygen movement in
waterlogging tolerant Trifolium tomentosum and intolerant Trifolium glomeratum. Plant,
Cell and Environment 22: 1161-1168.
Connell EL, Colmer TD, Walker DI. 1999. Radial oxygen loss from intact roots of
Halophila ovalis as a function of distance behind the tip and shoot illumination. Aquatic
Botany 63: 219-228.
Short DC, Colmer TD. 1999. Salt tolerance in Halosarcia pergranulata subsp.
pergranulata. Annals of Botany 83: 207-213.
Voesenek LACJ, Armstrong W, Bogemann GM, McDonald MP, Colmer TD. 1999. A
lack of aerenchyma and high rates of radial oxygen loss from the root base contribute to
the waterlogging intolerance in Brassica napus. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology
26: 87-93.
Adams MA, Chen Z, Landman P, Colmer TD. 1999. Simultaneous determination by
capillary GC of organic acids, sugars and sugar alcohols in plant tissue extracts as their
trimethylsilyl derivatives. Analytical Biochemistry 266: 77-84.
Makela P, Munns R, Colmer TD, Condon AG, Peltonen-Sainio P. 1998. Effect of foliar
applications of glycinebetaine on stomatal conductance, abscisic acid and solute
concentrations in leaves of salt or drought stressed tomato. Australian Journal of Plant
Physiology 25: 655-663.
Colmer TD, Gibberd MR, Wiengweera A, Tinh, TK. 1998. The barrier to radial oxygen
loss from roots of rice (Oryza sativa L.) is induced by growth in stagnant solution.
Journal of Experimental Botany 49: 1431-1436.
Chen Z, Landman P, Colmer TD, Adams MA. 1998. Simultaneous analysis of amino and
organic acids in extracts of plant leaves as tert-butyldimethylsilyl derivatives by capillary
gas chromatography. Analytical Biochemistry 259: 203-211
Colmer TD, Bloom AJ. 1998. A comparison of net NH4+ and NO3- fluxes along roots of
rice and maize. Plant, Cell and Environment 21: 240-246.
Colmer TD, Fan TWM, Higashi RM, Lauchli A. 1996. Interactive effects of Ca2+ and
NaCl salinity on the ionic relations and proline accumulation in the primary root tip of
Sorghum bicolor. Physiologia Plantarum 97: 421-424.
Colmer TD, Fan TWM, Lauchli A, Higashi RM. 1996. Interactive effects of salinity,
nitrogen and sulphur on the organic solutes in Spartina alterniflora leaf blades. Journal
of Experimental Botany 47: 369-375.
Colmer TD, Epstein E, Dvorak J. 1995. Differential solute regulation in leaf blades of
various ages in salt-sensitive wheat and a salt-tolerant wheat x Lophopyrum elongatum
(Host) A. Love amphiploid. Plant Physiology 108: 1715-1724.
Colmer TD, Fan TWM, Higashi RM, Lauchli A. 1994. Interactions of Ca2+ and NaCl
stress on ionic relations and intracellular pH of Sorghum bicolor root tips: an in vivo
31P NMR study. Journal of Experimental Botany 45: 1037-1044.
Fan TWM, Colmer TD, Lane AN, Higashi, RM. 1993. Determination of metabolites by
1H NMR and GC: Analysis for organic osmolytes in crude tissue extracts. Analytical
Biochemistry 214: 260-271.
Thomson CJ, Colmer TD, Watkin ELJ, Greenway H. 1992. Tolerance of wheat
(Triticum aestivum cvs. Gamenya and Kite) and triticale (Triticosecale cv. Muir) to
waterlogging. New Phytologist 120: 335-344.
Waters I, Morrell S, Greenway H, Colmer TD. 1991. Effects of anoxia on wheat
seedlings. II. Influence of O2 supply prior to anoxia on tolerance to anoxia, alcoholic
fermentation, and sugar levels. Journal of Experimental Botany 42: 1437-1447.

Munns R, Colmer TD. 1999. Chapter sections: 17.1.3 Perspectives on salinity - Solutes and
osmotic pressure; 17.2 Growth and cropping responses to salinity; 17.3 Halophytes and
adaptation to salt; 17.4 Salt affected land: utilisation and reclamation. In: Plants in
Action: Adaptation in Nature, Performance in Cultivation (B.J. Atwell, P.E. Kriedemann,
C.G.N. Turnbull, Eds.), MacMillan Education Australia Pty Ltd. pp. 549-550, 550-557,
562-572, 572-574.
Lauchli A, Colmer TD, Fan TWM, Higashi RM. 1994. Solute regulation by calcium in
salt-stressed plants. In: Biochemical and Cellular Mechanisms of Salt Stress Tolerance
in Plants. Ed, J.H. Cherry, NATO Advanced Science Institute Series, Vol. H 86,
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 443-461.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
(i)Australasian Editor of Annals of Botany (2001 - present).
(ii)Guest Editor with Rana Munns of a Special Issue ‘Waterlogging and salinity tolerance in plants’, Plant & Soil Vol. 253, 286 pages, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands.
(iii)Consulting Editor, Plant and Soil, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
(iv)Chair of Organising Committee for the 8th Conference of the International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis, Perth, September 2004 (see:
Member of The Australian Society of Plant Scientists (Discipline Rep. during 2002 & 2003)
Member of International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis
My teaching focuses on responses and adaptations of plants to adverse environments, and the integration of processes from the cellular to whole plant levels. The relevance of such adaptations to plants in appropriate agricultural and natural systems are considered in the context of solving problems in these management systems. Inter-disciplinary approaches to problem solving are emphasized. Evaluations of the current scientific literature and group discussions are used as teaching tools. Laboratory-based teaching is an important component of my courses, since I am convinced that hands-on experience is valuable to students learning plant science. I currently supervise or co-supervise six PhD students, one Masters, and three undergraduate research students. Six PhD, one Masters, and 15 undergraduates have completed research projects under my supervision/co-supervision. I was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award (Undergraduates) for the Faculty of Agriculture in 1997 and 2001.
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Monday, 1 October, 2012 4:15 PM