Ian Small

Professor, BA Cantab., PhD Edin.

  • The University of Western Australia (M316), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 4.73, Bayliss Building, Perth campus

    6009 Perth


  • 9163 Citations
  • 51 h-Index
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Personal profile


Ian Small's PhD at Edinburgh University (awarded in 1988) was followed by a career with France's National Agronomy Research Institute (INRA) first as a postdoc and later as a tenured research scientist. He held the Vice-Director position at the Plant Genetics & Breeding Station in Versailles and the Plant Genomics Unit in Evry. In 2005 he was awarded a WA State Premier's Research Fellowship and moved to Perth to become the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology early in 2006.

Roles and responsibilities

Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
Expertise: molecular biology, systems biology, bioinformatics

Future research

Energy biology in plant cells

Funding overview

Current grants:

$22.3 million from the ARC for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, 2005-2013
$400,000 from DIISR International Science Linkage

Previous positions

Directeur de Recherche, INRA


Ian's PhD work on plant mitochondrial genomes (EMBO Journal, 1988; Cell, 1989) changed the way we view their evolution, revealing unsuspected dynamic changes that are only now being understood. Building on these discoveries, his post-doctoral work on mitochondrial genes involved in cytoplasmic male sterility (Molecular and General Genetics, 1992) contributed significantly to the development, patenting and commercialisation of INRA's technology for male-sterile brassicas used in the breeding of elite hybrid lines. Much of the canola grown globally is now produced using this technology.
Ian's research has focused on the cellular machinery involved in translating messenger RNAs into proteins (The Plant Cell, 1996; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 2005), and on the transport of RNA and proteins into organelles (EMBO Journal, 1992). However, his research interests evolved rapidly to take advantage of the functional genomics technology emerging from the sequencing of the Arabidopsis nuclear genome. He coordinated the large European Union Framework 5 project, AGRIKOLA, that has provided unparalleled tools to the scientific community for analysing gene function in Arabidopsis (Genome Research, 2004) by the exciting new technology of RNA interference. He is perhaps best-known for the discovery and characterisation of the pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) family of proteins, a huge family of 450 proteins involved in controlling gene expression in mitochondria and chloroplasts (Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2000; The Plant Cell, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009).


Fluent in English


  • Gene expression in plant organelles
  • Large-scale Arabidopsis functional genomics research
  • Plant RNA biology and bioinformatics

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Projects 2005 2020

Research Output 2001 2018

plant stress
stress response
succinate dehydrogenase (quinone)
salicylic acid
2 Citations

Complete chloroplast genome sequences of four meliaceae species and comparative analyses

Mader, M., Pakull, B., Blanc-Jolivet, C., Paulini-Drewes, M., Bouda, Z. H. N., Degen, B., Small, I. & Kersten, B., 1 Mar 2018, In : International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 19, 3, 19.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Chloroplast Genome

Determining the role of plant mitochondrial membrane functions in respiratory acclimation to the cold

Kerbler, S., 2018, (Unpublished)

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

lung function
H-transporting ATP synthase
electron transport chain
2 Citations

Editing of chloroplast rps14 by PPR editing factor EMB2261 is essential for Arabidopsis development

Sun, Y. K., Gutmann, B., Yap, A., Kindgren, P. & Small, I., 20 Jun 2018, In : Frontiers in Plant Science. 9, 841.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
RNA editing
4 Citations

Establishment of photosynthesis through chloroplast development is controlled by two distinct regulatory phases

Dubreuil, C., Jin, X., Barajas-López, J. D. D., Hewitt, T. C., Tanz, S. K., Dobrenel, T., Schröder, W. P., Hanson, J., Pesquet, E., Grönlund, A., Small, I. & Strand, Å., 1 Feb 2018, In : Plant Physiology. 176, 2, p. 1199-1214 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Supplementary data for manuscript:"High intraspecific diversity of Restorer-of-fertility-like genes in barley"

Melonek, J. (Creator), Zhou, R. (Creator), Bayer, P. (Creator), Edwards, D. (Creator), Stein, N. (Creator), Small, I. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 21 Sep 2018