Susan Barker

Dr, BSc Adel., PhD Calif.

  • The University of Western Australia (M084), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 2.02, Botany Building Biology Wing, Perth campus

    6009 Perth


  • 852 Citations
  • 15 h-Index
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


My first two degrees (BSc, majoring in Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry, and BSc (Hons) investigating wool protein gene expression in sheep) were undertaken at The University of Adelaide. The focus of my PhD studies changed to the developmental regulation of plant gene expression. I was fortunate to be supervised by Professor Bob Goldberg at UCLA, and I investigated the regulation of expression of members of a multi-gene family in soybean and transgenic tobacco seeds. Next were completed two years of a three year National Institutes of Health Post Doctoral Fellowship at UC Berkeley in Professor Brian Staskawicz’s laboratory where I worked collaboratively on a project to clone the tomato disease resistance gene Pto. The project inadvertently discovered a second disease resistance gene, Prf, that was closely linked to Pto and had not previously been identified. During this project I managed the collection of a large number of mutagenized tomato lines that subsequently were screened for a range of characters, and I learned the power of Mendelian genetics research.
I left my post doctoral position early to take up a Faculty position in Plant Sciences at The University of Adelaide in late 1992, but I was luckily able to revisit UC Berkeley for five months as a Visiting Fellow in 1996. At the University of Adelaide I was mentored by an amazing group of senior colleagues, including Professors SE Smith, RD Graham, P Langridge, M Tate, W Wallace, and the late Prof RH Symons, and Dean of the Faculty, the late Prof Harold Woolhouse. A number of other members of the Waite Campus community also enriched my years at that location. I was successful in achieving multiple research grants and team leadership roles in the CRC for Molecular Plant Breeding and I managed a vibrant research laboratory with up to 13 members.
Departure from South Australia to The University of WA in 1998 was undertaken primarily for family reasons. However, in moving, I looked forward to the opportunities of fundamental research on the unique biodiversity of the SW-WA landscape whilst broadening my collaborations and continuing to bring my background in molecular research to complement other research programs in the plant sciences. However, the path we take is not always the one that we anticipate. I have continued a component of basic research through the last 15 years, particularly with understanding the complex genetics of establishing arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. However the main focus of my research energies has been in the area of plant biotechnology, particularly focussing on legume crops. Initially also I had a role in GMAC and the articulation of the scientific principles for research with GM organisms under the Federal Legislation that was implemented in 2001. As part of my community service role at UWA from 1999 to 2003 I undertook a large number of public speaking engagements, to provide some dispassionate information about the realities of GMO crops in Australia. From these activities I have developed an increasing academic interest in the manipulation of public perceptions about science. I have also moved from primarily teaching Genetics, to large class teaching and unit coordination in Introductory Biology units. My aim is to share my broad training and interests in the biological sciences, whilst engaging students in theory and activities that are relevant to their future and appropriately assessed.

Roles and responsibilities

I am joint first year Biology coordinator for Semester 1 and I am joint graduate research coordinator for the School of Plant Biology. I have expertise in molecular biology and molecular genetics,coordination of large practical training classes (600 students; 20 casual teaching staff would be a typical coordination load), public speaking, teaching and training about genetic manipulation

Previous positions

Lecturer at The University of Adelaide Waite Institute

Current projects

Evolutionary significance of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis to plant root genetics, biology, biotic resistances and mineral nutrition; genetics of mineral nutrient deficiency and toxicity in staple foods; improved legume transformation efficiency

Teaching overview

First Year Biology, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Molecular Breeding


Molecular genetics and molecular biology, including functional genomics of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, plant development, and plant disease resistance


Native English
slight written German and French


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis

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

  • 6 Similar Profiles
symbiosis Agriculture & Biology
Symbiosis Medicine & Life Sciences
Lycopersicon esculentum Medicine & Life Sciences
Lupinus angustifolius Agriculture & Biology
Hordeum Medicine & Life Sciences
Lupinus Agriculture & Biology
Fungi Medicine & Life Sciences
Genes Medicine & Life Sciences

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

Research Output 1999 2019

Optimisation of regeneration parameters improves transformation efficiency of recalcitrant tomato

Prihatna, C., Chen, R., Barbetti, M. J. & Barker, S. J., 1 Jun 2019, In : Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture. 137, 3, p. 473-483 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

A novel tomato Fusarium wilt tolerance gene

Prihatna, C., Barbetti, M. J. & Barker, S. J., 8 Jun 2018, In : Frontiers in Microbiology. 9, JUN, 1226.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Lycopersicon esculentum
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
140 Downloads (Pure)

Functional analysis of Rmc locus of tomato involved in mycorrhizal symbiosis and Fusarium wilt tolerance

Prihatna, C., 2018, (Unpublished)

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Fusarium wilt
4 Citations (Scopus)
Open Access
plant growth
1 Citation (Scopus)

Tomato CYCLOPS/IPD3 is required for mycorrhizal symbiosis but not tolerance to Fusarium wilt in mycorrhiza-deficient tomato mutant rmc

Prihatna, C., Larkan, N. J., Barbetti, M. J. & Barker, S. J., 1 Aug 2018, In : Mycorrhiza. 28, 5-6, p. 495-507 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Fusarium wilt

Projects 1999 2011