Professor Ian Small
Plant Energy Biology, ARC Centre of Excellence
- Contact details
- Plant Energy Biology, ARC Centre of Excellence
The University of Western Australia (M316)
35 Stirling Highway
CRAWLEY WA 6009
- +61 8 6488 4499
- Room 4.73, Bayliss Building, Crawley campus
- BA Cantab., PhD Edin.
- Ian Small's PhD at Edinburgh University (awarded in 1988) was followed by a career with France's National Agronomy Research Institute (INRA) first as a postdoc and later as a tenured research scientist. He held the Vice-Director position at the Plant Genetics & Breeding Station in Versailles and the Plant Genomics Unit in Evry. In 2005 he was awarded a WA State Premier's Research Fellowship and moved to Perth to become the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology early in 2006.
- Key research
- Ian's PhD work on plant mitochondrial genomes (EMBO Journal, 1988; Cell, 1989) changed the way we view their evolution, revealing unsuspected dynamic changes that are only now being understood. Building on these discoveries, his post-doctoral work on mitochondrial genes involved in cytoplasmic male sterility (Molecular and General Genetics, 1992) contributed significantly to the development, patenting and commercialisation of INRA's technology for male-sterile brassicas used in the breeding of elite hybrid lines. Much of the canola grown globally is now produced using this technology.
- Ian's research has focused on the cellular machinery involved in translating messenger RNAs into proteins (The Plant Cell, 1996; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 2005), and on the transport of RNA and proteins into organelles (EMBO Journal, 1992). However, his research interests evolved rapidly to take advantage of the functional genomics technology emerging from the sequencing of the Arabidopsis nuclear genome. He coordinated the large European Union Framework 5 project, AGRIKOLA, that has provided unparalleled tools to the scientific community for analysing gene function in Arabidopsis (Genome Research, 2004) by the exciting new technology of RNA interference. He is perhaps best-known for the discovery and characterisation of the pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) family of proteins, a huge family of 450 proteins involved in controlling gene expression in mitochondria and chloroplasts (Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2000; The Plant Cell, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009).
- Roles, responsibilities and expertise
- Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
Expertise: molecular biology, systems biology, bioinformatics
- Future research
- Energy biology in plant cells
- Funding received
- Current grants:
$22.3 million from the ARC for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, 2005-2013
$400,000 from DIISR International Science Linkage
- Fluent in English, French
- Honours and awards
- WA State Premier's Fellow, 2006-2010
- Previous positions
- Directeur de Recherche, INRA
- Current external positions
- Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board, Max-Planck-Institut of Molecular Plant Physiology, Golm, Germany
- Useful links