ANU Academic Staff

Dr. Ben Schwessinger

Curriculum Vitae



Senior Lecturer

Dr. Benjamin Schwessinger

Research School of Biology, ANU


Personal Information

Benjamin has been working on plants and fungi in various aspects from signalling to genomics and from biochemistry to bioinformatics. He started off with Arabidopsis before moving to rice and Xanthomonas. His current work is focused on fungi called rusts with a focal point on the wheat stripe rust fungus Puccinia striiforims f. sp. tritici. Benjamin is fascinated by biology in general and by observing living systems in interaction.



Ignition Grant, 2019

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), 2015

Long-Term Fellowship (EMBO), 2012

HFSP Long-Term Fellowship , 2012

John Innes Foundation Prize for Excellence in Scientific Research, 2011

Short-listed for the SET Student of the Year Awards, 2006

Plant Science Scholarship, 2006

Lang Scholarship (Botany), 2005


Research interests

I focus my research on plant-microbe interactions, biochemical signal transduction mechanisms, genomics and host-microbe co-evolution. Specifically, I study the interaction between the stripe rust fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, its environment, and its hosts with a focus on wheat. This obligate biotrophic fungus belongs to the order Puccinales, members of which cause rust disease on a wide variety of plant species. P. striiformis f. sp. tritici has an intriguing life cycle involving five different spore types and two unrelated plant hosts. It’s capacity to rapidly evolve and infect large areas of wheat in its asexual dihaploid spore stage makes it one of the major biotic limitation of wheat production with estimated losses of $ 1 billion USD globally. Despite its importance we lack any detailed understanding of the molecular, biochemical, and cellular mechanisms regulating its development, its infection processes, and its molecular evolution in agricultural and natural ecosystems. My desire to close these gaps in our knowledge leads to the three major goals of my five to seven years’ research program:

Identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms of host colonization

Identify and functionally characterize multiple fungal pathogenicity factors contributing to host adaptation

Uncover the contribution of its genome architecture to host adaptation



Supervisor, Wheat immunity and applied synthetic biology

Principal investigator, Uncovering the hare microbiome

Researcher, Bioinformatics and gene discovery in wheat rust pathogens



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