Mylne lab

We are an estabslihed and growing group of people interested in plant molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry and chemical biology. Our lab was established at UWA in January 2013 and in mid-2021 move to Curtin University. Our current and recent substantive funding is:

  • LP200301658 (Mylne, Stubbs, Herve, Lee) "Rethinking and revitalising herbicides to counter resistance"
  • Nexgen-UWA Herbicide Partnership (Mylne, Stubbs & Haywood) with Nexgen Plants
  • DP190101048 (Mylne, Stubbs, Haywood, Maxwell) "Putting new herbicide targets on the table"
  • DP190102058 (Mylne, Rosengren, Hara-Nishimura, van der Hoorn) "Buried treasure: bioactive plant seed proteins evolving inside hosts"
  • For all funding see Projects on UWA respository

Building 304

    Built to high specifications for containment up to PC3, Building 304 is home to Curtin's Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM). The science there straddles three disciplines:

  1. Genetics

    RNA biology, genomics and epigenomics, plant genetics, organelle biogenesis and computational biology.

  2. Biochemistry

    Structural biology, synthetic biology, chemical biology, drug design, metabolomics, bionano and enzymology.

  3. Chemistry

    Catalysis, molecular electronics, molecular materials, theoretical and computational chemistry.

Curtin Reputation

  • Top one per cent in the world. Curtin is ranked in the top one per cent of universities worldwide in the highly regarded Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2020.

    Academic Ranking of World Universities
  • Western Australia’s most preferred university. Around half of Western Australia’s undergraduate applicants nominate Curtin University as their first preference. In 2019 it was 53.3 per cent.

    Curtin University
  • Research on the rise. 95 per cent of Curtin's research output was rated at or above world standard in the 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia results.

    ARC Research Excellence

Lab members

Grishma Vadlamani, Post-doc

Grishma did her PhD at the University of Manitoba in crystallography and antibiotic resistance, did a postdoc with Trevor Lithgow at Monash University then joined our lab funded by an ARC Discovery grant to pursue recombinant protein approaches with enzymes; specifically new herbicide targets.

Mark Fisher, Post-doc

Mark has a BSc and first class honours in genetics from UWA where he studied the structure of RNA binding proteins. He has blended his long experience in the IT industry with molecular biology to examine the importance of hijacking as a mechanism for de novo protein evolution.

Samuel Nonis, PhD student

Sam is from Singapore, but did a UWA undergraduate degree followed by an Honours degree in genetic engineering and epigenomics with Prof. Ryan Lister. Facinated by the origins of life, Sam has skills from A-Star in directed evolution that he is applying to enzymes involved in the evolutionary birth of proteins.

Kirill Sukhoverkov, PhD student

Hailing from Moscow in Russia, Kirill has a strong background in enzymology and protein modifications. He helped train Russian Chemistry Student Olympiad teams and is now working on novel herbicides as well as determining and characterising their targets.

Mario Bani, PhD student

Mario earned his Masters degree in peptide biochemistry from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland working on recombinant production of spider peptide toxins. He is using Arabidopsis genetics and recombinant protein biochemistry to validate new herbicide targets.

Joel Haywood, DECRA Fellow

Joel did his undergraduate and a 3-year industry stint in the UK before a PhD on leukocyte receptor structure at the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing. He is working on a range of protein projects where we seek to bring a structural understanding of biosynthesis and bioactivities.

Victoria Cornford, PhD student

Vicky did her undergrad at Curtin University and has come to work on novel herbicidal compounds and their proteins targets working close with DECRA Fellow Joel Haywood. Vicky is working with recombinant plant protein production and will attempt to crystallize ones that are potential new herbicide targets.

Kalia Bernath-Levin, Post-doc

Dr Bernath-Levin did her PhD in directed evolution with Dan Tawfik at the Weizmann in Israel, she did a post-doc with Ayelet Fishman at the Technion before joining our lab at UWA in 2013, then in 2015 took up a 5 year position with Ian Small upstairs and now is back bringing her protein exertise to work on projects funded by Nexgen Plants.

Michael Wallace, PhD student

Michael did his BSc in chemistry at UWA and is jointly supervised with Assoc. Prof. Keith Stubbs, in whose lab he is working with a potentially new class of herbicide. Using synthetic organic chemistry, Michael is creating analogs to find ones that make better herbicides by testing the analogs in Arabidopsis and other systems.

Colton Payne, PhD student

Colton did his undergraduate and Honours at UQ and remains based at UQ where he is jointly supervised with Assoc. Prof. Johan Rosengren, in whose lab he's based as he pursues a PhD. Colton is using synthetic peptide chemistry and NMR to study a range of buried seed peptides, especially vicilin-buried helical hairpins.

Karen Breese, Post-doc

Dr Breese is an organic chemist who did her PhD at ANU in Canberra and then worked for some years in industry at Epichem here in Perth before joining the herbicide team at UWA. Karen is based in the lab of Assoc. Prof. Keith Stubbs, in whose lab she is working on organic chemistry synthesis of new herbicides.

Joshua Mylne, lab head

Josh has a PhD (2002) in plant genetic engineering from UQ, did a 4-year post doc in Arabidopsis molecular genetics and epigenetics at the John Innes Centre (UK) before a 7-year fellowship stint with peptide chemists at the IMB, UQ. He currently yearns to get into the lab for more than just RNA extractions.

Testimonials

Sam Nonis, 2021 PhD under exam (UWA)

"Having spent a year experimenting with the directed evolution of proteins at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, I became interested in how protein structure relates to function. I pursued that interest while learning to become a structural biologist in Josh’s research group, where I was a PhD student from 2017 to 2021. Josh is keenly aware of the important role that he plays as a group leader. He aims for his lab members to become and be successful scientists with promising careers. One way that Josh does this is by ensuring that we learn to be independent researchers. For example, Josh makes sure that every research group member learns to write their own stories for their research papers. He encourages and facilitates this process by running frequent writing retreats, where he imparts fundamental skills for manuscript writing. Josh also encouraged me to take the lead on a collaboration, where I learnt important soft skills often overlooked in research. He also made it a point to increase his presence when the going got tough. I completed a successful PhD thanks in large part to Josh’s careful guidance." (2 June 2021)

Dr Maxime Corral, 2018 PhD (UWA)

"I moved to Perth in 2014 to start a PhD in the Mylne Lab after completing my Master’s Degree in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Otago (New Zealand). Prior to arriving to Australia, I was granted a highly competitive PhD scholarship for international students (UWA) with support and help from Josh. My research projects looked at unconventional herbicidal compounds and their modes of action in Arabidopsis. From my PhD experience, I have learnt a large array of molecular, biochemical and genetics techniques. Josh made sure to equip me with the skills necessary for publishing high quality research articles which, I have no doubt, helped me obtain a post-doctoral fellowship at CSIRO in 2018. Hailing from France AND as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community, I was very grateful of being part of a lab that promotes inclusion, diversity and respect. Josh’s lab was affiliated to the Plant Energy Biology centre (ARC) and as such, I was extremely fortunate to have access to further laboratory equipment, growth facilities and peers’ expertise which greatly supported the success of my PhD at UWA." (27 May 2021)

Dr Amy James, 2018 PhD (UWA)

"I joined Josh’s lab as a PhD candidate after completing my Undergraduate and Masters degree at University of Victoria, BC, Canada. I submitted my PhD as a series of publications which included two published first author publications, one first author publication ready for submission, one co-authored published manuscript and one co-authored publication ready for submission. During my PhD, I developed numerous techniques in molecular biology and biochemistry. Along with Josh’s background in plant genetics and molecular biology, my co-supervisor Prof. Charlie Bond, with whom Josh maintains an active collaborative relationship, has exceptional knowledge and expertise in structural biology. Josh’s supervisory philosophy is to prepare his students for the next stage in their career by providing a well rounded and fulfilling experience. Beyond scientific ability, Josh encourages students to develop other skills important to a successful scientific career. For example, I had the opportunity to take part in all aspects of producing a published research article including writing of the manuscript, generating figures and writing the response to reviewers. He offers several workshops to assist in these skills including a photoshop/illustrator course and a bi-annual writing retreat." (9 Feb 2018)

Dr Alysha Elliott, 2013 PhD (UQ)

"Starting a graduate program in 2009 as Associate Professor Josh Mylne’s first primary PhD student was an exciting, challenging and rewarding time for us both. It was a great position to be in with a young and enthusiastic post doctoral supervisor who was keen to be by my side in the laboratory when needed as well as giving me the independence to find my own grounding and niche as a scientist. My thesis “A New Class of Daisy Seed Peptides” describes the discovery of a new and structurally diverse class of seed peptides. The majority of this work was [recently accepted] for publication in Plant Cell and other elements are currently being continued in the lab. I learnt a vast number of new techniques, as this project was multidisciplinary based on Josh’s plant molecular biology expertise, my own prior skill set in peptide chemistry and, via a strong collaboration with Dr. Johan Rosengren (NMR expert), structural biology. During my candidature, with the passionate support of Josh, I had the opportunity to attend international conferences, where I won student bursaries and prizes for my work, visited international collaborators to collect samples on a student travel award and competed in the GlaxoSmithKline student awards. My time in the Mylne lab was highly successful and enjoyable thanks to a great group, of not only intelligent and enthusiastic but friendly and supportive young people." (21 Oct 2013)

Christina Delay, 2011 Honours (UQ), First Class, Dean's Commendation

"For my honours project, I set out to investigate how and when cyclic peptides first arose albumin genes in the daisy family. This project gave me the opportunity to use a range of different experimental techniques, including molecular biology, plant biology and protein chemistry. I received First Class Honours with a Dean's Commendation for High Achievement and my results will be included in a forthcoming publication [see here]. Josh is extremely passionate about his work and his enthusiasm certainly rubs off onto his students. The lab has a great dynamic, with a good mix of students and RAs who are always able to offer advice when needed. Additionally, the lab has a number of excellent collaborators. Next year, I will be starting a Ph.D. in plant sciences under the supervision of Assoc. Professor Michael Djordjevic at the Australian National University in Canberra." (3 Dec 2011)

Zaiyang Phua, 2010 Masters (UQ), Dean's Commendation

"I did my Masters in Molecular Biology in 2010 with Josh at the IMB on the genetic evolution of seed peptides and received a grade of straight sevens [7 is the highest mark possible] as well as the Dean's Commendation for High Achievement. It was a tremendously rewarding experience working under Josh and I have learned many invaluable laboratory techniques and skills which I will hold on to for my scientific career. I really enjoyed my time in the lab and Josh's dedication and passion towards his work will always be an inspiration for me. I now work at the Genome Institute of Singapore as a research officer performing next-generation sequencing." (17 Dec 2011)

Dr Jingjing Zhang, 2019 PhD (UWA)

"After I received my Masters degree in biophysics in University of Chinese Academy of Science, I joined the Mylne Lab in 2015 as a UWA PhD student. Thanks for Josh’s help, I was awarded the International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) which was very competitive. During the next 4 years in Mylne Lab I focused on revealing the evolutionary origin of an ancient peptide family in seed vicilin and investigating the new herbicidal modes of action. Josh is perhaps the most passionate researcher you can ever find, and a very experienced supervisor as well. He’s always ready to help, and his insights in plant biology can always guide you through. During my PhD I learned a lot about molecular biology, peptide chemistry, bioinformatics, and structural biology, and got a bunch of co-publications including one first-author high quality paper in ACS Chemical Biology. Besides, I will always miss the numerous workshops that Josh hold, in which I have learned very useful manuscript writing skills, as well as the happy beer times afterwards!" (1 June 2021)

Thaveshini Chetty, 2019 undergrad volunteer (UWA)

"I joined Mylne Lab in 2019 as a UWA undergraduate student. Josh proposed a short project rediscovering Evolidine, a cyclic peptide first discovered in Australia. During this exciting project Josh was always very supportive and enthusiastic, he imparted his knowledge generously and patiently. He makes time to engage with all his students and fosters positive growth within his team, I felt lucky to be a part of his lab. He had a huge positive impact on my post-graduate goals and through my experience and research with Josh I gained confidence in my capacity to research and perform molecular biology techniques. Even better, I gained a publication before I had started my Honours [see here]. He is the dream mentor, and the Obi-Wan Kenobi of cyclic peptides." (10 Oct 2020)

Dr Achala Jayasena, 2016 PhD (UWA)

"I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Sri Lanka and gained a Masters of Biology from Adelphi University, New York studying Arabidopsis genetics. With a desire to expand my skill set, I joined what would become the Mylne lab (while Josh was hosted by the Craik lab at IMB, UQ) as a PhD candidate in 2012. I got to be the first student in the official 'Mylne lab' at UWA where I continued working on my project studying the evolution of the dual-fate protein PawS1. My PhD journey (2012-2016) was an extremely successful and interesting one. I developed skills in de novo transcriptomics and proteomics in addition to strengthening my skills in molecular biology. I graduated in 2016 authoring six manuscripts in respected journals and I have a few more on the way. I was lucky enough to submit my PhD thesis as a series of publications. Despite being a small lab, we were well connected with big labs from whom we sought expertise in next generation sequencing, proteomics and daisy evolution. The lab always had a very friendly working environment and it was a pleasant surprise to see our lab head working in the lab along with us most of the time. Josh was a very supportive supervisor with a positive mindset, who helped me with all the steps in my candidature from the scholarship application to the thesis submission. I enjoyed my time in the Mylne lab and thank Josh, my lab colleagues and our collaborators for their wonderful support." (2 Nov 2016)

Joseph O'Neill, 2011-2012 Summer, IMB Summer Scholar

"I was lucky enough to receive an IMB Summer Scholarship for an internship with Assoc. Prof. Mylne. I worked on a project that built on the effect antimalarial drugs have on plants. Specifically, I sterilised and sowed mutated Arabidopsis seed onto antimalarial-drug-containing plates of media, aiming to find a drug-resistant line. It is hoped that, given the shared evolutionary history between malaria parasites and photosynthetic plants, Assoc. Prof. Mylne's work in this area will help elucidate the mode of action of antimalarial drugs in parasites. Being in charge of my own project, albeit with expert guidance, I was able to learn and develop new skills that I was yet to do in my undergraduate education. I learned much about drug design and action, as well as practical skills like sterile technique, liquid and gas seed sterilisation, plant husbandry, making media, following scientific methods, researching techniques, and keeping a lab book. All of which will be useful for my science career. During my time I was supervised by the competent and engaged members of Assoc. Prof. Mylne's and Prof. Craik's group, and as my first experience of the research world my time in Assoc. Prof. Mylne's lab offered me invaluable experience and knowledge. As I am graduating from my B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UQ in June, I feel I have made connections at the IMB that will serve me in my postgraduate education and my future career. I had a great summer and thoroughly enjoyed my time at the IMB." (13 Feb 2012)

Kate Martinac, 2011 Honours (UQ), First Class

"I recently completed my honours in B. Biotechnology on in planta peptide processing at the IMB and received First Class Honours. It was a privilege to have Josh as my supervisor and to work with such an intelligent team of researchers in state-of-the-art facilities. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the lab and found the experience both challenging and rewarding. I now work at QUT bluebox, assisting in the commercialisation of research outcomes." (30 Nov 2011)