• The University of Western Australia (M310), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile

Research interests

My research interests include:

  • Genetic and molecular basis of plant development
  • Hormone perception and signalling mechanisms in plants
  • Evolution of hormone signalling systems
  • Protein-ligand interactions


I graduated with an Honours degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford in 2001, followed by a PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2004. From an early stage in my research career I have been interested in the molecular and genetic basis of development, especially in plants, which show impressive variability and capacity to adapt to different lifestyles.

After my PhD I returned to Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher, in the Department of Plant Sciences. There I used the power of Arabidopsis genetics to understand the role of nuclear transcription factors in the development of chloroplasts. In 2010 I moved to UWA and shifted my research towards the perception of plant hormones and growth regulators, especially karrikins. I was fortunate to have been supported by two ARC grants as a researcher, which was followed by an ARC Future Fellowship that allowed me to start up my own research group in 2016. Over my time at UWA, I have generated 30 peer-reviewed publications in high impact journals such as Plant Cell, PNAS and Development.

Details of my current research activities, my research group and our publications can be found on my home page: https://watersmt.org

Funding overview

Waters MT: 2016, 'Discovering new plant hormone signalling networks', UWA Fellowship Support.
Flematti GR, Waters MT, Dixon KW, Merritt D, Perez-Fernandez, M: 2016, 'Smoke-derived karrikins reveal a new pathway for plant development', ARC Discovery projects.
Waters MT: 2015, 'Unlocking a new hormone signalling system to increase plant performance', ARC Future Fellowships.
Waters MT: 2014, ‘A novel bioassay based in yeast to discover a predicted new plant hormone’, Winner, UWA Pitch Your Project in 3 Minutes. Awarded funds: $3,000
Waters MT: 2011, 'Smoke signals and shoot branching hormones – how do plants tell the difference?', UWA Research Development Award. Awarded funds: $25,334
Smith SM, Dixon, KW Waters, MT: 2010, 'Molecular mechanisms of karrikin mode of action in the control of plant growth', UWA Research Collaboration Award. Awarded funds: $15,500
Smith SM, Beveridge CA, Dixon, KW, Waters MT, Scaffidi A, Flematti GR, Long R, Dun E, Brewer P: 2010, 'Relationship between strigolactones & karrikins in the control of plant growth & development', UWA–UQ Bilateral Research Collaboration Award. Awarded funds: $19,878

Previous positions

2010-2016 Post-doctoral Research Fellow (PI: Prof Steven Smith)
University of Western Australia, ARC Centre of Excellence Plant Energy Biology

2004-2008 Post-doctoral Research Fellow (PI: Prof Jane A Langdale)
University of Oxford, Department of Plant Sciences

Current projects

Honours and PhD opportunities:

1. Smoke alarm: Discovering new signalling compounds that operate in plants

2. Exploiting chemical signals to boost plant performance

Teaching overview

GENE2250 Principles of Inheritance
GENE3350 Evolution and Development
GENE4001 Advanced Studies in Genetics and Genomics
BIOC5001 Advanced Techniques in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Research expertise keywords

  • Plant development and genetics
  • Synthetic biology
  • Karrikin
  • Photosynthetic development
  • Plant genetics and hormone signalling
  • Strigolactone


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