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Deakin Univeristy PhD graduate Dr Arati Agarwal is the winner of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists-Functional Plant Biology (ASPS-FPB) Best Paper Award for 2011.
Presented annually by the journal Functional Plant Biology, published by CSIRO, the award recognises the best paper published in the journal in each calendar year by an early-career scientist.
Titled ‘Analysis of global host gene expression during the primary phase of the Arabidopsis thaliana-Plasmodiophora brassicae interaction’, the paper, based on Dr Agarwal's PhD research, was published in Functional Plant Biology, 2011, 38, 462-478.
The paper is co-authored with an international team including Professor Jutta Ludwig-Müller of the Technical University Dresden, Germany, scientists from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and Professor David Cahill (Arati’s PhD supervisor) and Dr James Rookes from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
The paper discusses a study that provided further critical insights into the biology of P. brassicae during clubroot disease development. Clubroot disease is of worldwide significance and in Australia is an economically important disease of brassica crops such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Importantly, as outlined in the paper’s conclusion, the study demonstrated that in the early stages of the interaction, suppression of defence-related genes during invasion and colonisation by the pathogen appears to be necessary for the establishment of the pathogen within host roots.
This finding may allow targeting of specific genes and signalling pathways for disease control.
Dr Agarwal received her PhD in 2009 and now works with the Department of Primary Industries Biosciences Research Division in Melbourne.
She said she was very proud to receive the award, describing it as the ‘highest accolade she could have dreamt of’.
She is also looking forward to attending ComBio2012 in Adelaide in September this year where she has been invited to present her work in a symposium and officially be presented with her award.