Manuel Zander

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Academic Achievement

Beginning of PhD candidature
University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia
BBiotech with Honours
Microbiology and Plant Biotechnology
University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia


The goal of my research is focused on understanding the relationship between Brassica species and their major pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans, also known as Blackleg. Brassica species comprise some of the most important food crop plants worldwide such as canola, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard seeds and many others. In Australia, canola is the 3rd largest crop species and is worth $2.5 billion to our economy.

Blackleg disease is the major pathogen of canola crops and causes average crop losses of 15%. In some years it can cause even higher losses of up to 90%. It is vital that this fungal pathogen is studied in order to develop sustainable methods of tackling this problem.

Using next generation sequencing technology, I have developed over 20,000 SNP markers in L. maculans. These SNPs are genome-wide and can be used to understand the population diversity of L. maculans in Australia and to analyse the adaptation of this fungus to different growing conditions that can be found nationwide. Along with the benefits of understanding the diversity and adaptation potential, we are using these SNP markers to identify genes involved in infecting Brassica species.

Along with this work, I am working towards identifying infection related genes, known as avirulence genes, in L. maculans in order to give us a better insight into this plant-pathogen interaction. This will aid in developing strategies to prevent crop losses in canola and other important Brassica species. I have identified a number of these genes and they are in the process of being tested and applied in plant resistance studies.

Research Publications

Journal Publications
Zander, M., Patel, D.A., Van de Wouw, A., Lai, K.T., Lorenc, M.T., Campbell, E., Hayward, A., Edwards, D., Raman, H. and Batley, J. (2013) Identifying genetic diversity of avirulence genes in Leptosphaeria maculans using whole genome sequencing. Functional & integrative genomics 13, 294-308
Patel, D.A., Zander, M., Van de Wouw, A.P., Mason, A.S., Edwards, D. and Batley, J. (2015) Population Diversity of Leptosphaeria maculans in Australia. International Journal of Biology 7, 18-36
Golicz, A.A., Martinez, P.A., Zander, M., Patel, D.A., Van De Wouw, A.P., Visendi, P., Fitzgerald, T.L., Edwards, D. and Batley, J. (2015) Gene loss in the fungal canola pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans. Functional & integrative genomics 15, 189-196
Lai, K., Lorenc, M.T., Lee, H.C., Berkman, P.J., Bayer, P.E., Visendi, P., Ruperao, P., Fitzgerald, T.L., Zander, M., Chan, C.-K.K., Manoli, S., Stiller, J., Batley, J. and Edwards, D. (2015) Identification and characterization of more than 4 million intervarietal SNPs across the group 7 chromosomes of bread wheat. Plant Biotechnology Journal 13, 97-104
Chambers, K., Lowe, R., Howlett, B., Zander, M., Batley, J., Van de Wouw, A. and Elliott, C. (2014) Next-generation genome sequencing can be used to rapidly characterise sequences flanking T-DNA insertions in random insertional mutants of Leptosphaeria maculans. Fungal Biology and Biotechnology 1, 10.
Fraser-Smith, S., Czislowski, E., Meldrum, R.A., Zander, M., O'Neill, W., Balali, G.R. and Aitken, E.A.B. (2014) Sequence variation in the putative effector gene SIX8 facilitates molecular differentiation of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp cubense. Plant Pathol 63, 1044-1052.
Lai, K., Duran, C., Berkman, P.J., Lorenc, M.T., Stiller, J., Manoli, S., Hayden, M.J., Forrest, K.L., Fleury, D., Baumann, U., Zander, M., Mason, A.S., Batley, J. and Edwards, D. (2012) Single nucleotide polymorphism discovery from wheat next-generation sequence data. Plant Biotechnology Journal 10, 743-749
Hayward, A., Dalton-Morgan, J., Mason, A., Zander, M., Edwards, D. and Batley, J. (2012) SNP discovery and applications in Brassica napus. Journal of Plant Biotechnology 39, 1-12.
Book Chapters
Patel, D.A., Zander, M., Dalton-Morgan, J. and Batley, J. (2015) Advances in plant genotyping: where the future will take us. Methods in molecular biology 1245, 1-11
Edwards, D., Zander, M., Dalton-Morgan, J. and Batley, J. (2012) New technologies for ultra-high throughput genotyping in plant taxonomy. In: Molecular Plant Taxonomy (Besse, P. ed)

Awards and Scholarships

2013 Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Travel Award - $5,000
2013 School of Agriculture and Food Science (UQ) International Travel Award - $2,500
2013 Scherago International Student Travel Grant to PAG XXII - $1,000
2010 Dean's Commendation for High Achievement - Bachelor of Biotechnology Honours


International Plant and Animal Genome XXII conference in San Diego, CA, USA, January 10 – 14, 2014

- Oral presentation of my PhD work “New Insights into the Genome of the Plant Pathogen, Leptosphaeria maculans” in the Fungal Genomics Workshop
- Exhibited a poster titled “Understanding Genome Structure and Diversity of the Plant Pathogen, Leptosphaeria maculans

Crucifer Genetics Workshop and Brassica 2014 conference in Wuhan, China, March 30 – April 2, 2014

- Exhibited a poster titled “Genome Variations within the Plant Pathogen, Leptosphaeria maculans

3-Minute-Thesis at UQ, St. Lucia, 2012

- People’s Choice winner, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences (SAFS)


Prof. Jacqueline Batley
Prof. David Edwards
Dr. Alice Hayward

Contact Details


Manuel Zander
John Hines Building (62) Room 214
St Lucia QLD 4072 Australia


Work Ph: 07 334 (57227)