Cotton Research Conference
5-7 September, 2017
CSIRO Discovery Centre, Canberra

Plenary Speakers

Juan Landivar Bowles

High Throughput Phenotyping from Drones (UAVs)

Dr. Juan Landivar Bowles earned a bachelor’s degree in crop science in 1976, a master’s degree in plant genetics in 1979 and doctorate in crop physiology in 1987, from Mississippi State University. In 1988, joined the Texas A&M System as Project Leader for cropping systems at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Centre at the Corpus Christi. Research areas include development of management strategies for the use of growth regulators in cotton, development a Crop Weather Station Network for the lower Coastal Bend Region of Texas, development of simulation models and management tools for cotton and sorghum. In 1998, Landivar joined Delta and Pine Land Co. as director of research and technical services for Latin America. Before returning to Corpus Christi, Dr. Landivar served as vice-president of the company’s board of directors’ joint ventures in Brazil. Currently (2008 to date) he serves as Centre Director at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Centres at Corpus Christi and Weslaco Texas, where he directs programs in the development of cropping systems for Cotton, Sorghum, Wheat, Citrus, Sugar Cane and Vegetables for South Texas, the development of mariculture technology, beef cattle reproductive physiology and nutrition and sustainable biofuel production systems.
His research has been in the development of crop management tools for the design of economic and environmentally sustainable cropping systems for Texas and beyond. Areas of research interest include: Physiology of crop growth and yield, development and usages of process level crop simulation models, mode of action and uses of plant growth regulators, development of remote sensing systems for research and precision management, development of UAS based platforms for high throughput phenotyping.

CLICK HERE for Dr. Juan Landivar Bowles Profile

Dr Linda Smith

Epidemiology and control of cotton pathogens

Dr Linda Smith is a Plant Pathologist with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) based at the Ecosciences Precinct in Brisbane. She earned a bachelor’s degree with honours in Agricultural Science in 1987 from the University of Western Australia, a master’s degree in Microbiology/Nematology in 1995 and doctorate in Plant Pathology in 2006, from the University of Queensland. Linda started her working life in a small tissue culture laboratory in Cooroo in WA, initiating and propagating West Australian wildflowers for nursery production. In 1988 she moved to Queensland, and joined the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Nematology team led by Dr Graham Stirling in 1989. She conducted research on bacterial and fungal antagonists of root-knot nematodes and their potential as biological control agents. In 1997 Linda joined the Banana Fusarium wilt team at DPI working with Ken Pegg and Dr Natalie Moore. Her research was primarily in the area of fusarium wilt disease management of banana. In 2002, she broadened her horizons into cotton pathology when Dr Moore moved to NSW. From 2006 to the present Linda has developed and led industry funded projects associated with the study of plant diseases and pathogens of cotton, including nematodes. The core focus of her teams’ research has been to identify and respond to emerging pathology issues identified through extensive surveys in Queensland, provide a diagnostic service for cotton diseases and disorders, to improve the understanding of important plant pathogens, and provide growers with scientifically evaluated disease management strategies so that cotton can remain profitable to grow.


Prof David Tissue

Cotton adaptation to climate change

Professor David Tissue received his BSc from McGill University (Montreal), MSc from San Diego State University, PhD from University of California Los Angeles, and conducted post-docs at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama) and Duke University in North Carolina. He was an Assistant, Associate and Professor at Texas Tech University before moving to Western Sydney University in 2007 where he works in the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Professor Tissue is an international expert on the effects of climate change on ecosystems and has worked around the world, including temperate and tropical forests, deserts, grasslands, arctic tundra and agricultural systems. His current research program addresses the interactive effects of climate factors (elevated CO2 and temperature) on plant response to climate extremes, including drought, floods and heatwaves on plant growth and physiology.

His goal is to determine the mechanisms that regulate and integrate the developmental and physiological processes that influence leaf level carbon balance and plant growth from the cell to the ecosystem level. This information will determine the impact of climate factors on carbon and water flux, and ultimately on growth, in natural and agricultural ecosystems, including cotton.


Dr Mary Whitehouse

Cotton IPM

Mary Whitehouse is a Senior Research Scientist in CSIRO Agriculture and Food. She completed her PhD at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in the early 90s working on behavioural plasticity in spiders. Mary has always focused on the innovative and unusual in her work. She demonstrated that after many fights spiders can learn to be winners and losers, and from this she developed a different way of interpreting animal contests; she worked in Venezuela applying theories on human warfare to battles between leaf cutter ants; and she developed the Functional Theory of Sociality through studying social spiders in the Israeli desert. Since joining CSIRO in 2001 she has addressed both practical and theoretical issues pertinent to the cotton industry, particularly in the field of Integrated Pest Management. She demonstrated that following IPM guidelines in mirid management did not affect yield and avoided costs; that key spider species are effective IPM tools against pests; and identified how Bt cotton influences invertebrate communities positively. In support of the Resistance Management Plan she challenged complacency on the efficacy of RMP tools; and identified conditions by which Helicoverpa punctigera could develop Bt tolerance epigenetically. She is also involved in collaborations with European researchers on moth migration and further developing radar and aerial sampling techniques to monitor Helicoverpa movement; as well as working with Boeing to apply spider web construction to manufacturing challenges.


Dr Paxton Payton

Breeding & biotechnology for abiotic stress tolerance in cotton

Dr. Paxton Payton is a plant physiologist with a Ph.D. in Biology from Texas Tech University. He joined the USDA-ARS Cropping Systems Research Laboratory in 2002 and is and adjunct professor in the Departments of Biology and Plant and Soil Sciences at Texas Tech. His primary research is aimed at understanding molecular and physiological factors that influence abiotic stress tolerance. Of particular interest is how plants acclimate to drought and temperature stress and the development of crop management tools that allow growers to monitor stress and take advantage of plant acclimation responses to maximize yields with limited inputs.
In addition to developing irrigation scheduling tools, Dr. Payton’s laboratory is examining germplasm for specific traits related to acclimation in collaboration with researchers in Australia. They are studying cultivar response to elevated CO2, high temperature, and drought in both greenhouse and field studies in both countries. This work includes current elite cultivars, breeding lines, and transgenic cotton genotypes engineered for improved stress tolerance.


Filomena Pettolino

Cotton fibres – development and cell wall structure

Filomena Pettolino is Group Leader of the Cotton Biotechnology Group at CSIRO Agriculture & Food. She completed a PhD in Biochemistry (Immunochemical studies of (1,4)-β-mannans) at La Trobe University and worked as a post-doctoral fellow at The School of Botany, University of Melbourne, focusing on cell walls and plant and fungal polysaccharide structure and applications. This work included the characterisation of polysaccharides from plant cells in suspension culture, polysaccharides with immunomodulatory activities, yeast mannoproteins involved in reducing visible haze in white wine and the development of plant-based fining agents for the brewing industry. She also studied cell wall assembly in barley and maize for the enhancement of quality, productivity and industrial value of crop plants through her expertise in complex carbohydrate analysis.
Filomena joined CSIRO in late 2010 to work in the Cotton Biotechnology Group. The group works to support a profitable and sustainable cotton industry using biotechnology to focus on protecting yield from the ravages of pests, diseases and a changing climate, enhancing yield and quality and developing novel cotton fibres. Filomena uses a combination of chemical, biochemical and genomic approaches to study cell wall and fibre development in different cotton varieties and fibre quality mutants to understand the relationship between the chemical structure of the cotton fibre cell wall and fibre properties. The long term aim of this work is to manipulate the composition of the fibre to generate fibres with novel properties that will expand the uses of this important natural fibre and enhance Australia’s international fibre export competitiveness.


Dr Warren Conaty

2015 Early Career Scientist Recipient

Dr Warren Conaty is a Research Scientist at CSIRO Agriculture & Food, Narrabri. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with First Class Honours in 2006. During his undergraduate studies, he was a laboratory demonstrator and student mentor in the Faculty. In 2007 he undertook his PhD studies, collaborating with researchers in the United States Department of Agriculture, to implement a wireless canopy temperature monitoring system for irrigation scheduling. As a result he was named the NSW winner of the 2007 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. After submitting his PhD thesis, Warren worked as a Youth Ambassador in fruit tree breeding at the Plant Science and Agriculture Research and Training Institute in Mongolia. Warren now leads a project to develop physiology based screening tools for abiotic stress resistance, ultimately aiming to produce drought and heat tolerant cotton varieties. He was awarded the Early Career Scientist Encouragement Award at the 2015 Australian Cotton Research Conference in Toowoomba.

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