Doctor Natascha Weinberger

Natascha WeinbergerNatascha joined the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment in April 2023 as a Postdoctoral research fellow specialising in Mycorrhizal Phenotyping. She has a strong interest in plant-microbe interactions, with a specific focus on beneficial root symbionts known as Arbuscular Mycorrhiza fungi (AM fungi). She is working with Professor Jeff Powell on a project with particular interest in unravelling biochemical traits unique to various AM fungal species. Her approach is marked by her strong molecular background which she integrates into her ongoing research.

She holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) at Western Sydney University. During her doctoral research, she focused on the understanding of molecular plant-microbe interaction, with a strong emphasis on enhanced pathogen resistance in plants, conferred by AM fungi. A combination of metabolomic, genomic and phenotypic observations was used in her thesis to investigate the molecular patterns of this phenomenon named Mycorrhiza Induced Resistance. Prior to this, she completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Graz, Austria. Building on this foundation, she pursued a master’s degree in Phytomedicine at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria.
Natascha’s academic journey is a testament to her commitment to advancing our understanding of
the complex relationships between plants and their microbial partners.

Areas of research

Plant-microbe interactions
Arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis
Species-specific molecular traits
Molecular biology

Teaching expertise

Agricultural Biosecurity

Awards and recognition

2020 Director’s Award for Outstanding Student’s Poster, HIE HDR/MRes Forum
2019 People´s Choice award, HIE HDR/MRes Forum


2023 Postgraduate Student Travel Grants for the Australian Society of Plant Scientists (ASPS) conference in Hobart, Tasmania
2022 APR.Intern (Australian Postgraduate Research Intern) Internship “Conversion of
molecular diagnostic assays into faster PCR cycling format” with Genetic Signatures Limited
2021 FAOBMB Young Scientist Programme (YSP) Fellowship
2020 APPF Postgraduate Internship Award - Australian Plant Phenomics Facility
2018 Western Sydney University Research Scholarship, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment
2018 FEMtech fellowship, Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)

Selected publications

Smakowska-Luzan, Mott, Parys, Stegmann, Howton, Layeghifard, Neuhold, Lehner, Kong, Grünwald, Weinberger, Satbhai, Mayer, Busch, Madalinski, Stolt-Bergner, Provart, Mukhtar, Zipfel, Desveaux, Guttman, & Belkhadir. An extracellular network of Arabidopsis leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases. Nature 553, 342–346 (2018).

Ahmed, Howton, Sun, Weinberger, Belkhadir, & Mukhtar. Network biology discovers pathogen contact points in host protein-protein interactomes. Nat Commun 9, 2312 (2018).