Osazee Oyanoghafo


PhD Candidate

Thesis Title

Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of Proteaceae family to drought

Research Project

Osazee Oyanoghafo The Proteaceae plant family is highly diverse and widespread in Australia. They are thought to originate from rainforest biome in the ancient Gondwana and climate change has since shaped their distribution after the splitting, with relict rainforest genera (e.g. Placospermum, Buckinghamia, Musgravea) confined to refugia in eastern Australia (majorly Queensland). Some lineages have made transition into the drier habitat as in sclerophyllous communities (e.g Persoonia and Banksia) and others to a typical arid biome (e.g. Hakea and Grevillea). The Australian continent, which contains the highest diverse repository of this family, is currently experiencing devastating drought episodes and is predicted to increase in the future with climate change. Though climate change (e.g drought) is often predicted to cause widespread population or species local extinction, some species will not experience this limitation at their climatic range edge, suggesting the potential of phenotypic plasticity or genetic adaptation of traits in enabling some populations to persist under extreme environmental conditions. Hence, knowledge of drought tolerance and adaptive capacity of species is essential for predicting impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function. At present, little or no studies have assessed the vulnerability of this family to drought. In addition, whether traits associated with drought (e.g hydraulic traits) can shift through these two mechanisms (phenotypic plasticity and genetic adaptations) still remains a puzzle.

The objective of this study is to determine drought vulnerability and adaptive capacity of plant species in the Proteaceae family through a comparative experimental framework. Using hydraulic trait (e.g P50-water potential inducing 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity and related functional traits, we will compare the vulnerability to drought (stem P50) of genera that have transitioned into the arid biome with mesic-restricted rainforest genera.  Secondly, we have explored the Hakea genus using recent phylogeny to understand species-level physiological tolerance. Thirdly, I will be estimating the adaptive capacity of Hakea sp by growing distinct populations under contrasting watering treatments to estimate the contribution of the genetic and environmental components of phenotypic variance. Findings from this study will provide the scientific basis for adaptive management strategies for this family and facilitate management of native ecosystems, including threatened species in the NSW Saving Our Species program.


Oyanoghafo OO, Miller AD, Toomey M, Ahrens CW, Tissue DT, Rymer PD, (2023) 'Contributions of phenotypic integration, plasticity and genetic adaptation to adaptive capacity relating to drought in Banksia marginata (Proteaceae)', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol.14, Article no.1150116

Oyanoghafo OO, O'Brien C, Choat B, Tissue D, Rymer PD, (2021) 'Vulnerability to xylem cavitation of Hakea species (Proteaceae) from a range of biomes and life histories predicted by climatic niche', Annals of Botany, vol.127, no.7, pp 909 - 918

He P,  Wright IJ,  Zhu S,  Onoda Y,  Liu H,  Li R,  Liu X,  Hua L, Oyanoghafo OO,  Ye Q, (2019) 'Leaf mechanical strength and photosynthetic capacity vary independently across 57 subtropical forest species with contrasting light requirements', New Phytologist, vol.223, no.2, pp 607-618

Osazuwa KO, Oyanoghafo OO, Eguagie OM, (2017) 'Floristic richness of the great historic Benin moat, Benin city, Edo state, Nigeria', Nigerian Field, vol.82, pp 96-107

Vwioko ED, Oyanoghafo OO, Iyamu KO, (2017) 'Axonopus compressus (Beauv.) used a mechanism of soil pH modification to sustain growth in heavily oil polluted soil', Botswana Journal of Agriculture, vol.12, no.1, pp 3-14

Eguagie MO, Aiwansoba RP, Omofomwan KO, Oyanoghafo OO, (2016) 'Impact of Simulated Acid Rain on the Growth, Yield and Plant Component of Abelmoschus caillei', Journal of Advances in Biology and Biotechnology, vol.6, no.1, pp 1-6

Osazuwa KO, Bamidele JF, Oyanoghafo OO, (2016) 'Vegetation assessment of Okigwe limestone quary at Okpilla in Etsako East Local Government Area, Edo State, Nigeria', Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences, vol.9, no.3, pp 195 - 203


Dr Paul Rymer, Distinguished Professor David Tissue, A/Professor Brendan Choat