Kosala Ranathunge


  • The University of Western Australia (M084), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated using citation counts from Scopus for publications in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository
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Personal profile


I received my PhD from the University of Bayreuth, Germany in 2005. During my PhD, I investigated how do the apoplastic barriers, made of suberin and lignin, in rice and corn roots alter radial water and solute transport into the stele. After successfully completing my PhD under the supervision of late Prof. Dr. Ernst Steudle, I secured a postdoctoral research fellow position at Prof. Carol Peterson’s lab, University of Waterloo, Canada. At this stage, my research took a new direction, in which I was fascinated by plant anatomy and histochemistry. In 2007, I was awarded a prestigious Alexander-von-Humboldt fellowship from Germany and moved to Prof. Dr. Lukas Schreiber’s lab at the University of Bonn as a Humboldt research fellow. During my stay in Bonn, I gained a thorough knowledge in biochemistry, exploring the biosynthesis pathways of secondary cell wall polymers, such as suberin and lignin. I also pursued my interest in stress physiology to understand how biotic and abiotic stresses alter apoplastic barrier development in roots of crop plants. Four years later, I moved to Prof. Steven Rothstein's lab at the University of Guelph, Canada as a research associate to improve my knowledge in molecular genetics. My research was based on understanding plant responses to nitrogen limitation for the improvement of nitrogen use efficiency in economically important crop plants. In 2016, I moved to the University of Western Australia, and currently work on fascinating research projects to understand the efficient phosphorus acquiring and utilising mechanisms of iconic Australian native plants (specially, Proteaceae) which thrive on phosphorus-impoverished, weathered soils. In June 2017, I have been awarded a prestigious ARC Future fellowship to continue my research on Australian native plants.

Roles and responsibilities

- Postgraduate student supervision
- Honours supervision

- Seminar coordinator - School of Biological Sciences

- Subject Editor, Journal of Plant Physiology (Elsevier)
- Review Editor, Frontiers in Plant Science
- Editor, Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection
- Reviewer for Journal of Experimental Botany, Planta, Plant Physiology,
Physiologia Plantarum, Annals of Botany, Frontiers in Plant Science,
Plant and Soil, Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection.

- Plant Stress Physiology (abiotic stresses such as salinity, drought, waterlogging, heavy metals and nutrient stress; biotic stresses such as pathogens)
- Plant Ecophysiology
- Plant Anatomy and Histochemistry
- Plant Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry

Funding overview

• Fellowship Support Grant, The University of Western Australia. AUS$ 29,500 for 4 years [Oct 2017-Sep 2021].

• ARC Future Fellowship, The University of Western Australia. AUS$ 757,000 for 4 years [Oct 2017-Sep 2021].

• Alumni Fellowship, University of Bonn, Germany. EUR 3500 [Dec 2015].

• NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Grant (together with Prof. Steven Rothstein) University of Guelph. CAN$ 150,000 for two years [Dec 2015–Dec 2017].

• DAAD (The German Academic Exchange Service) Travel Grant and Graduate Student Exchange Program Grant (together with Prof. Dr. Lukas Schreiber) University of Guelph, Canada & University of Bonn, Germany. EUR 20,500 for two years [2015-2016].

• NSERC Engage Plus Grant (together with Prof. Steven Rothstein) University of Guelph, Canada. CA$ 25,000 for six months [June 2013–Dec 2013].

• NSERC Engage Grant (together with Prof. Steven Rothstein) University of Guelph, Canada. $25,000 for six months [Nov 2012–May 2013].

Current projects

Phosphorus-efficient Australian plants: applications for crop improvement (FT170100195)

Teaching overview

PLNT2201 Plant Physiology (Plants in Action)
PLNT3301 Plant Physiological Ecology


Understanding the significance of root fine structural, biochemical, molecular genetic and proteomic traits of Proteaceae with a highly-efficient P-acquisition mechanism from soils with very low P availability.
Determining the carbon costs for cluster-root development and functioning as a specialised P-acquisition strategy that is most effective on soils with extremely low P availability.
Investigation of the effect of suberin on water and nutrient permeabilities in rice (Oryza sativa L.) roots employing different suberin mutants.




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