Doctor Donovin Coles

Donovin ColesI am a plant pathologist with a passion for developing strategies to mitigate the negative effects of diseases in agriculture and forestry. I hold a PhD in molecular plant Pathology from Western Sydney University and the University of Hertfordshire. For my PhD I developed omics resources to better understand the molecular switches that control the biotrophic to necrotrophic switch in hemibiotrophic interactions. Hemibiotrophic pathogens being some of the most devastating to agriculture means the knowledge gained and tools developed will help to reduce the impacts these pathogens have on food security. I also believe in the importance of conservation of natural ecosystem and forestry for our future. Myrtle rust is an exotic pathogen that greatly impacts Australian myrtacea species such as keystone Eucalyptus spp. My research here has focused on developing molecular markers to identify early pathogen infection and resistant germplasm in conjunction with the plant Biosecurity foundation, and the outputs here will contribute to developing early management strategies, restoring native forests and planting elite germplasm for forestry.

Currently, for my Post-Doctoral fellowship I am developing novel technologies to bolster the immunity of broccolini against major leaf and root diseases experienced by Australian growers. This work is being carried out in conjunction with Perfection Fresh and broccolini growers across Australia, and aims to promote increased production, sustainable solutions and collaboration. I am also passionate about connecting people, collaborating and working as a team to make projects a success.

Areas of research/teaching expertise


  1. Generating omics resources to understand plant-pathogen interactions
  2. Developing novel technologies to bolster immunity to crop diseases
  3. Diagnostic technologies to conserve natural and agricultural/forestry systems


  • Molecular genetics
  • Plant genetics and crop biotechnology
  • Plant pathology and biosecurity
Awards and recognition
  • 2018-2021 Western Sydney University and University of Hertfordshire co-tutelle dual award Ph.D. Scholarship
  • 2021 Top oral presentation award (University of Hertfordshire, School of Life and Medical Science Research Conference, Agriculture and Geography Research session)
  • 2019 Director’s award for outstanding student poster (Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University)
  • 2016-2017 National Research Foundation - Innovation Master’s Scholarship
  • 2016-2017 Forest Molecular Genetics Program - Master’s Scholarship 2015 Top oral presentation award (Department of Genetics Honours Series, The University of Pretoria)
  • 2015 National Research Foundation - Grant Holder Linked Bioinformatics Honours Scholarship
  • 2015 Forest Molecular Genetics Program- Honours Scholarship 2014 Forest Molecular Genetics Program- Undergraduate Mentorship Scholarship
Selected publications

Coles DW, Bithell SL, Mikhael M, Cuddy WS, Plett JM, (2022) 'Chickpea Roots Undergoing Colonisation by Phytophthora medicaginis Exhibit Opposing Jasmonic Acid and Salicylic Acid Accumulation and Signalling Profiles to Leaf Hemibiotrophic Models', Microorganisms, vol.10, no.2, Article no.343

Hill RA, Wong-Bajracharya J, Anwar S, Coles D, Wang M, Lipzen A, Ng V, Grigoriev IV, Martin F, Anderson IC, Cazzonelli CI, Jeffries T, Plett KL, Plett JM, (2022) 'Abscisic acid supports colonization of Eucalyptus grandis roots by the mutualistic ectomycorrhizal fungus Pisolithus microcarpus', New Phytologist, vol.233, no.2, pp 966-982

du Toit Y, Coles DW, Mewalal R, Christie N, Naidoo S, (2020) 'eCALIBRATOR: A Comparative Tool to Identify Key Genes and Pathways for Eucalyptus Defense Against Biotic Stressors', Frontiers in Microbiology, vol.11, Article 216

Naidoo S, Slippers B, Plett JM, Coles D, Oates CN, (2019) 'The Road to Resistance in Forest Trees', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol.10, Article no.273