PROF Barbara Howlett

PROF Barbara Howlett


  • Fungal Diseases of Plants, Fungal Genetics (Mycology, Agriculture, Genetics)



  • Research Interests
    My main research interests are fungal genetics and fungal diseases of plants. Most of the research involves Leptosphaeria maculans, the fungus that causes blackleg disease of canola. My approach ranges from developing plant disease management strategies, to jointly leading an initiative with French scientists to sequence and annotate the 16,000 genes of this fungus.  My research team has pioneered the development of genetic and molecular techniques for the blackleg fungus to understand how the fungus causes disease.  We use molecular markers to  monitor populations of the blackleg fungus for changes of virulence.  We also study sclerotinia stem rot of canola. Many findings are of major significance to fungal biology and plant disease.

    I also am analyzing genes involved in the biosynthesis of an important class of toxins (epipolythiodioxopiperazines) in a range of filamentous fungi, including animal and plant pathogens. These toxins include sirodesmin in L.maculans and gliotoxin in Aspergillus fumigatus. We are analysing regulation and evolution of toxin gene clusters in fungi.

    Current projects are listed in my lab home page

    Editorial Responsibilities
    2009:  Editorial Board: Eukaryotic Cell
    2009:  Associate Editor: PLoS Pathogens
    2007-8:  Associate Editor: PLoS One
    2005-present:  Senior Editor: Molecular Plant Pathology




Has subject area


Member of

  • International Fungal Genetics Policy Committee. One of nine members 2007 -
  • Australasian Plant Pathology Society. General 1995 -
  • Australian Society of Plant Biologists. General 1995 -


Selected publications


Investigator on


Education and training

  • PhD, University of Melbourne 1981
  • MSc, The Australian National University 1973
  • BSc (Hons), University of Melbourne 1970



Available for supervision

  • Y