Matthew Nelson


  • The University of Western Australia (M082), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from PlumX

Personal profile


After completing my PhD at the John Innes Centre (UK) in 2000, I gained 18 months industry experience as molecular marker scientist in Seminis Vegetable Seeds in The Netherlands. In 2002, I joined UWA as a Research Fellow in crop molecular genetics dividing my time equally between academic and commercial genetic research. In my academic research, I focussed on understanding and using genetic diversity within Brassica and lupin species; investigating genome evolution in crucifer and legume species; and basic understanding of the meiotic process. This role involved a strong research training component including co-supervision of 6 PhD, 1 MSc and 3 Honours project students. In my commercial research, I managed the molecular marker and doubled haploid components of Canola Breeders Western Australia Pty Ltd, the canola breeding programme located at, and co-owned by, UWA. Over time, I increased my focus on academic research with new projects in lupin genome sequencing & marker development; molecular markers for the drought tolerant perennial pasture legume, tedera (Bituminaria bituminosa); and using next generation sequencing for gene discovery and trait mapping in various crop species.

From 2015 to 2018, I was the Research Leader for Crop Plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the UK. My role was to conduct research in the genetic diversity of crop plants and their wild relatives, focusing on white lupin and carrot.

In 2018, I returned to Australia to take up my current role as Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food based in Floreat, Perth where I lead a national program of canola improvement. My current research interests include canola adaptation (phenology and establishment), legume domestication and the effective use of wild germplasm in crop improvement.

Roles and responsibilities

Team Leader - Adaptive Traits, CSIRO Agriculture & Food

Project leader on canola pre-breeding research projects

Member of editorial board for Theoretical & Applied Genetics journal (since 2015)

Funding overview


2023-2028: Nelson. CSP2307-002RTX: Accelerating development and deployment of long-hypocotyl canola to improve establishment. Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). AUD 3.9M

2019-2023: Nelson. CSP1907-001RTX: Increasing return on investment from canola seed through improved establishment - Program 1. GRDC. AUD 1.9M

2017-2018: Sanders, Nelson, Yeheyis, McNaughton. ELFF - Ethiopian Lupins for Food and Feed. Innovate UK AgriTech Catalyst. GBP 319K

2017: Nelson. Controlled growth cabinet infrastructure bid. DEFRA. GBP 87K

2014-2018: Nelson. Development of lupin molecular markers tagging yield QTL genes and yield-related phenology traits (UWA component). Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). ($270,000)

2011-2015: MN Nelson, K Singh, W Erskine, J Clements. Unleashing the power of genomics for lupin marker development and crop improvement. Grains Research and Development Corporation. ($534,687)

2011-2014: MN Nelson, J Croser. Breeding new cultivars of the perennial forage legume tedera (UWA component). Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre. ($343,000)

2011-2014: WA Cowling, N Turner, K Siddique, MN Nelson, R Furbank. LP110100341: Improving heat and drought tolerance in canola through genomic selection in Brassica rapa. Australian Research Council Linkage Project ($575,540 including industry support of $375,540)

2007-2010: WA Cowling, MN Nelson. UWA00120: Capacity building for plant breeding education and research at The University of Western Australia. Grains Research and Development Corporation ($383,394)

2006-2008: WA Cowling, MN Nelson. LP0667805: Expanding the gene pool of canola (Brassica napus) by introgressing valuable genes from related species. Australian Research Council Linkage Project ($542,620 including Industry support of $307,370)

2005-2009: WA Cowling, MN Nelson. CSI/1999/072 Oilseed Brassica Improvement in China, India, and Australia. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and Grains Research and Development Corporation ($498,923)

2003-2005: WA Cowling, MN Nelson, SJ Barker. UWA372 – Development of molecular marker and mapping technology for lupin breeding: UWA component. Mapping across lupin species and between legume genera. Grains Research and Development Corporation ($218,235)


2012: MN Nelson. Extending the reach of lupin genomic democracy beyond the Narrow. Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) Seed Funding. $9,900

2010: J Batley, WA Cowling, D Edwards, MN Nelson. Second generation sequencing to identify genes controlling flowering in oilseed Brassica plants. UWA-UQ Bilateral Research Collaboration Award ($19,942)

2010: MN Nelson, J Clements. Strategic development of a genetic mapping population for pearl lupin. Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) Seed Funding ($10,000)

2010: WA Cowling, S Chen, MN Nelson. Towards resolving the molecular genetic control of microspore embryogenesis and chromosome doubling in Brassica species. UWA Research Collaboration Award ($8,000)

2008: J Croser, D Real, C Revell, A Loi, MN Nelson, P Nichols, B Nutt. Investigating the potential for in vitro technologies to accelerate pasture legume breeding. CLIMA Seed Funding ($10,000)

2006: MN Nelson, W Cowling, B Buirchell. Understanding how crop domestication genes work: a case study of early flowering gene Ku in narrow-leafed lupin. CLIMA Seed Funding ($8,500)

2006: M Nelson, J Berger, W Cowling. Validation of DArT marker technology in narrow-leafed lupin. CLIMA Seed Funding ($5,000)

2004: S Ellwood, M Nelson. Software tools for genetics in legumes. CLIMA seed funding ($12,750)

2004: M Nelson, C Schelfhout. Developing methodologies for the detection of chromosomal introgressions into canola from other crucifer species. UWA Research Grant ($4,500)

Previous positions

2001-2002 Molecular marker scientist in vegetable brassica breeding programme with Seminis Vegetable Seeds (Enkhuizen, The Netherlands)

Current projects

Using next generation DNA sequencing for sequencing crop genomes and developing marker linked to useful traits.
Investigating genome evolution in crucifer and legume species.
Drought tolerance in Brassica rapa.
Flowering time control in Brassica and legume species.

Industrial relevance

From 2001-2002, I developed molecular markers for the vegetable brassica breeding programme at Seminis Vegetable Seeds in The Netherlands. From 2002 until 2013, I managed the molecular marker and doubled haploidy programmes of the commercial canola breeding company based at The University of Western Australia

Teaching overview

Teaching AGRI4405 (Breeding and Plant Biotechnology)


Using genomic technologies to assist crop improvement.
Exploring genome evolution in crucifer and legume species through comparative genomics.
Understanding crop domestication.
Genome sequencing of narrow-leafed lupin.
Control of genetic recombination in plants.
Introducing new germplasm into canola from related crucifer species.
Developing flow cytometric methods for high-throughput ploidy analysis.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO - Agriculture and Food

2018 → …

Research expertise keywords

  • Plant breeding
  • Crop genomics
  • Plant domestication
  • Marker-assisted selection
  • Plant genome evolution
  • Managing genetic diversity in crop species


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