Aims and Objectives

The Australian Research Council established the Centre of Excellence (CoE) scheme to maintain and develop Australia’s international standing in areas of national priority. The ARC CoE in Plant Cell Wall’s goals, activities and strategies are defined to meet the Australian Research Council's priorities and the objectives of the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme.

Please 'click' on each ARC Priority Statement below to follow the Centre's progress towards its objectives.

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Undertake highly innovative and potentially transformational research (Priorities A.1 and C.2)

This ARC Centre aimed to address the ‘big questions’, difficult problems and major opportunities facing the international plant cell wall community. Our combined expertise and experience, together with our international partner investigators, focused on the following aspects of cell wall biology: 

  • Defining the precise mode of action of genes and enzymes that regulate the synthesis of heteroxylans and (1,3;1,4)-ß-glucans, which are major wall polysaccharides in the grasses
  • Defining regulatory mechanisms for the control of the biosynthesis, deposition and re-modelling of key wall polysaccharides
  • Defining the mechanism of regulation of fine chemical structure and physicochemical properties of wall polysaccharides
  • Defining molecular architecture within the wall and relating this to cell wall function
  • Defining the route and mechanism of wall polysaccharide assembly through the cell. 

Achieve international standing in the fields of research (Priorities A.2 and C.2)

Through its formal linkages with major cell wall research groups in Europe and the USA, the Centre's name and reputation in the international arena has been recognised through its personnel:

  • Being awarded the rights to stage the 2014 international conference on the Biosynthesis of Plant Cell Walls in Australia.
  • Receiving invitations to deliver plenary lectures at major scientific meetings in 2011 and 2012
  • Serving on editorial boards of key journals
  • Receiving a number of international awards and prizes in 2011

Lead to a significant advancement of capabilities and knowledge (Priority A.3.)

The Centre has commenced programs aimed at advancing the understanding of plant cell wall synthesis, assembly and function through:

  • Attracting highly-skilled postdoctoral scientists, a significant group of early career researchers, and a large contingent of local and international postgraduate students, at the PhD and MSc levels.
  • Developing research programs in which difficult and previously intractable research questions are being tackled with new technologies and with the advantage of scale provided by the ARC’s CoE scheme.
  • Engaging with our international partner scientists, to leverage ARC and institutional investment in the Centre in joint applications to overseas funding bodies. 

Link existing Australian research strengths (Priority B.1.) Build critical mass with new capacity for interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to address the most challenging and significant research problems (Priority B.2.)  Develop relationships and build new networks with major national and international centres and research programs (Priority C11.)   

  • The Centre involved all major Australian plant cell wall groups as partners and brings together significant research and management experience.
  • Expertise in molecular genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, biomaterials science and physical chemistry of polysaccharides has been combined and will enable the most challenging research problems in plant cell wall biology to be addressed using broad, multidisciplinary approaches.
  • Our partner investigators brought additional expertise, infrastructure and connections with large public and private sector groups in four other countries.

Build Australia’s human capacity in a range of research areas (ARC Priority D.1.) 

  • More than 70 staff and students of the Centre capitalised on the assembled expertise and first class research infrastructure of the Centre and on the facilities of the collaborating institutions.
  • With investments from each University, research environments have been established through which the next generation of scientists will obtain first-hand experience in state-of-the-art and emerging technologies, for the future benefit of Australia’s human capacity in plant-based research and development activities.
  • Our graduate students and postgraduate scientists are provided with innovative research and training experiences by linking them with our international partner organisations. 

Attract and retain, from within Australia and abroad, researchers of high international standing as well as the most promising research students (ARC Priority D.2.) 

  • The well-funded strategic research environment of the Centre has linked international laboratories in formal projects with the Centre. It has attracted top class students and early career researchers from Australia and overseas, many with their own funding; and is providing the most promising postdoctoral scientists and research students with resources to independently pursue specific aspects of the overall research program. 

Provide high-quality training environments for the next generation of researchers (ARC Priority E) 

  • Bilateral projects established with our International Partners will allow reciprocal exchange visits of students and scientists to top overseas and Australian laboratories. 
  • The Centre applied for and was granted an additional $1.25 million over its first three years specifically for the development of ECRs in a well-funded, scientifically excellent environment.
  • The State Government of South Australia also allocated $500,000 over three years for ECR and postgraduate student support in South Australia. 

Offer Australian researchers opportunities to work on large-scale problems over longer periods of time (ARC Priority F) 

  • The research programs of the Centre are focused on the most difficult scientific questions that face the international cell wall community today.
  • Solving these difficult scientific problems requires long term funding and access to the best intellectual input, expertise and physical infrastructure. Our seven year funding and excellent funding commitments from partners and collaborators  provides long term opportunities for all Centre staff and students.  

Establish Centres that will serve as points of interaction among higher education, governments, industry and the private sector generally (ARC Priority G) 

  • The CIs and selected PIs bring together an excellent mix of Australian and international organisations from both the private and public sectors with clearly stated short and long term objectives.
  • The Centre actively engages with enquiries from private sector companies, with a view to developing collaborative research programs of interest to the potential commercial partners.