Martha Ludwig

Dr, BSc Smith Coll. Mass., PhD McG.

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

    6009 Perth


  • 837 Citations
  • 19 h-Index
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Personal profile


Dr Martha Ludwig completed a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Biological Sciences, at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She moved to McGill University in Montreal to do post-graduate work that examined how chloroplasts evolved from eukaryotic symbionts in Chlorarachnion and the cryptomonad algae. In her first post-doctoral position, she looked at cell surface antigens in various groups of algae at The University of Melbourne. Dr Ludwig then undertook post-doctoral research studying CO2 concentrating mechanisms, including the evolution of the C4 photosynthetic pathway as an ARC Post-doctoral Research Fellow at The Queensland University of Technology and subsequently added cyanobacterial CO2 concentrating mechanisms at the Research School of Biological Sciences at The Australian National University. She was a lecturer at The Australian National University and Macquarie University, before moving to The University of Western Australia in 2003. Her research focuses on the molecular evolution, biochemistry and genetics of C4 photosynthesis in mono- and dicotyledonous plants.

Roles and responsibilities

Associate Dean, International, Faculty of Science


Associate Head of School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Education

Master of Biotechnology specialisation coordinator for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Genetics and Genomics

Master of Biomedical Science specialisation coordinator for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Expertise in:
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Isolation of DNA and RNA; RNA-Seq; construction and screening of cDNA libraries; PCR; RT-qPCR; automated DNA sequencing; expression of plant genes in heterologous expression systems; transgenics

Protein Biochemistry
Recombinant protein expression and purification; SDS-PAGE; immunoblotting

Cell Biology
Light, fluorescence and confocal microscopy; transmission electron microscopy; in situ localisation of macromolecules

Funding overview

Australian Research Council

Previous positions

Post-doctoral Fellow, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne
Australian Research Post-doctoral Fellow, School of Life Science, Queensland University of Technology
Post-doctoral Fellow, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University
Lecturer, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Australian National University
Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

Current projects

Evolution of the C4 Photosynthetic Pathway

My research interests include the cell and molecular biology, molecular genetics and evolution of photosynthetic pathways. Plants require sunlight, water and atmospheric CO2 to carry out photosynthesis, one of the most fundamental processes on earth. Depending on its biochemistry, a plant is described as a C3, a C4 or a Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) plant. C4 and CAM species have evolved from C3 plants and this process has occurred multiple times in different families of plants. However, the molecular events underlying the evolution of C4 and CAM plants from their C3 ancestors have not been elucidated. We use species from the genus Flaveria that demonstrate C3, C4 or C3-C4 intermediate-type photosynthesis to examine the anatomical and molecular changes that have occurred during the evolution of C4 plants. We have focused our work on the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, which although involved in both the C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways, shows differences in intracellular location and patterns of expression in C3 and C4 plants. We have identified gene sequences that appear responsible for these differences and we are currently examining their functional significance as well as the cellular expression patterns of the enzymes in C3 and C4 Flaveria species.

More recently, we have begun to examine the molecular evolution of the C4 pathway in the Australian native grass subtribe, the Neurachninae. This group is the only known grass lineage with distinct, closely related C3, C3-C4 and C4 species, and these species are found only in Australia.

My research group uses a combination of cell and molecular biology and genetics techniques to investigate the above research areas. We look at the products of gene expression using in situ localisation methods that involve microscopy with antibodies and nucleic acid probes. We investigate the genes and the sequences controlling when, where and how they are active using recombinant DNA technology; real-time PCR; RNA-Seq; and immunoblotting techniques. We use transgenic technologies to examine the functions of gene products and to investigate the effects on plant productivity when a plant makes more or less of a given protein than wild type plants.

My group has strong, productive collaborations with other UWA research groups and international researchers in North America and Germany.

Students interested in the above research areas are encouraged to approach Dr Ludwig about potential Honours, Master and PhD projects.


Prof Timothy Colmer, UWA
Assoc/Prof Erik Veneklaas, Plant Biology, UWA
Dr Pauline Grierson, Plant Biology, UWA
Prof Peter Westhoff, Heinrich-Heine University, Germany
Prof Andreas Weber, Heinrich-Heine University, Germany

Dr John Lunn, Max Planck Institute for Plant Molecular Physiology, Germany

Prof Mark Stitt, Max Planck Institute for Plant Molecular Physiology, Germany

Prof Rowan Sage, University of Toronto, Canada
Assoc/Prof Tammy Sage, University of Toronto, Canada


Teaching overview

Molecular Biology of the Cell (SCIE1106), Biochemical Regulation of Cell Function (BIOC2002), Molecular Biology (BIOC3001), Cellular Biochemistry (BIOC3005), Evolution and Development (GENE3350), Genomics (GENE3370)


The molecular evolution of C4 photosynthesis.


  • Carbon concentrating mechanisms
  • Plant cell and molecular biology
  • Molecular evolution of C4 and CAM photosynthetic pathways

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Martha Ludwig is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 4 Similar Profiles
C4 photosynthesis Agriculture & Biology
carbonate dehydratase Agriculture & Biology
Carbonic Anhydrases Medicine & Life Sciences
Photosynthesis Medicine & Life Sciences
Flaveria Medicine & Life Sciences
mesophyll Agriculture & Biology
C4 plants Agriculture & Biology
Flaveria bidentis Agriculture & Biology

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2002 2019

C 4-like photosynthesis and the effects of leaf senescence on C 4-like physiology in Sesuvium sesuvioides (Aizoaceae)

Bohley, K., Schröder, T., Kesselmeier, J., Ludwig, M. & Kadereit, G., 15 Feb 2019, In : Journal of Experimental Botany. 70, 5, p. 1553-1565 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
2 Citations (Scopus)

Metabolite profiles reveal interspecific variation in operation of the Calvin-Benson cycle in both C-4 and C-3 plants

Arrivault, S., Alexandre Moraes, T., Obata, T., Medeiros, D. B., Fernie, A. R., Boulouis, A., Ludwig, M., Lunn, J. E., Borghi, G. L., Schlereth, A., Guenther, M. & Stitt, M., 1 Mar 2019, In : Journal of Experimental Botany. 70, 6, p. 1843-1858 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Variation in leaf anatomical traits relates to the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in Tribuloideae (Zygophyllaceae)

Lauterbach, M., Zimmer, R., Alexa, A., Adachi, S., Sage, R., Sage, T., Macfarlane, T., Ludwig, M. & Kadereit, G., Aug 2019, In : Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. 39, 125463.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
C4 photosynthesis

Genome-Guided Phylo-Transcriptomic Methods and the Nuclear Phylogenetic Tree of the Paniceae Grasses (vol 7, 13528, 2017)

Washburn, J. D., Schnable, J. C., Conant, G. C., Brutnell, T. P., Shao, Y., Zhang, Y., Ludwig, M., Davidse, G. & Pires, J. C., 2 May 2018, In : Scientific Reports. 8, 1 p., 7120.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Open Access
5 Citations (Scopus)

A MEM1-like motif directs mesophyll cell-specific expression of the gene encoding the C4 carbonic anhydrase in Flaveria

Gowik, U., Schulze, S., Saladie, M., Rolland, V., Tanz, S. K., Westhoff, P. & Ludwig, M., 1 Jan 2017, In : Journal of Experimental Botany. 68, 2, p. 311-320 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Flaveria bidentis
Mesophyll Cells
Carbonic Anhydrases
carbonate dehydratase

Projects 2004 2020