Dr Patrick E. Hayes
JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Crop, Livestock and Environment Division
Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)
Tsukuba, Ibaraki, JAPAN
Adjunct Research Fellow
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Western Australia (UWA)
Perth, Western Australia, AUSTRALIA
I am a plant biologist with a strong interest in the field of plant ecophysiology. I have a passion for understanding the unique and novel strategies with which plants are able to survive in harsh environments and how this knowledge can be applied to improving current and future agricultural practices, and in maintaining the natural environment around us.
My current research is focused on understanding phosphorus-use efficiency in rice and how this can be optimised through a greater understanding of the physiological mechanisms involved and their genetic links. My previous research has centred on understanding plant nutrient-use efficiency and nutrient acquisition strategies in species from severely P-impoverished environments. I completed my undergraduate, Honours (sups: Assoc/Prof Etienne Laliberté & E/Prof Hans Lambers) and PhD (sups: E/Prof Hans Lambers & Assoc/Prof Peta Clode) at the University of Western Australia.
In 2018 I was awarded a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship through the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). I have now joined the Internationally renowned group of Dr Matthias Wissuwa at the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences in Tsukuba City, Japan. I am currently undertaking numerous experiments at JIRCAS and am looking forward to the exciting new research discoveries we will make here.
Key Skills and Expertise
- Plant Ecophysiology
- Plant Nutrition
- Plant Ecology
- Soil Fertility/Nutrition
- Plant Nutrient-Acquisition
- Plant Nutrient-Use Efficiency
- Long-Term Ecosystem Development
- Cell-Specific Nutrient Allocation
- Soil Chemistry/Analysis
- Scanning Electron Microscopy
- X-Ray Microanalysis
- Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy
- Light Microscopy
- X-Ray Microscopy
- Hydroponic Experiments
- Field Work
- Glasshouse Experiments
- Microscopy Analysis
- Plant Nutrient Analysis
- Plant Phosphorus Fractionation
- Root Dynamics
- Leaf Gas Exchange
- Data Analysis (R and others)
Research article published in the European Journal of Soil Science
Turner BL, Hayes PE, Laliberté E. 2018. A climosequence of chronosequences in southwestern Australia. European Journal of Soil Science 69, 69–85.
To examine how climate affects soil development and nutrient availability over long timescales, we studied a series of four long-term chronosequences along a climate gradient in southwestern Australia. Annual rainfall ranged from 533 to 1185mm (water balance from −900 to +52 mm) and each chronosequence included Holocene (≤6.5 ka), Middle Pleistocene (120–500 ka) and Early Pleistocene (∼2000 ka) dunes. Vegetation changed markedly along the climosequence, from shrubland at the driest site to Eucalyptus forest at the wettest. Soil pH was similar in the youngest soil of each chronosequence, although the carbonate and P contents of the parent sand declined from dry to wet along the climosequence, presumably linked to variation in offshore productivity. Despite this, soil development and associated nutrient status followed remarkably consistent patterns along the four chronosequences. Pedogenesis involved decalcification and secondary carbonate precipitation in Holocene soils and leaching of iron oxides fromMiddle Pleistocene soils, leading ultimately to bleached quartz sands in the oldest soils. Along all chronosequences soil pH and total P declined, whereas C:P and N:P ratios increased, which is consistent with the predicted change from N to P limitation of vegetation during ecosystem development. The expected unimodal pattern of leaf area index was most pronounced along wetter chronosequences, suggesting an effect of climate on the expression of retrogression. The four chronosequences do not appear to span a pedogenic climate threshold, defined as an abrupt change in soil properties across a relatively small change in climate, because exchangeable phosphate and base cations declined consistently during long-term pedogenesis. However, the proportion of total P in organic form was greater along wetter chronosequences. We conclude that soil and nutrient availability on the coastal sand plains of southwestern Australia change consistently during long-term pedogenesis, despite marked variation in modern vegetation and climate. The four chronosequences provide a rare soil-age X climate framework within which to study long-term ecosystem development.
New PCE article is now 'ISI Highly Cited' and an 'ISI Hot Paper'
I am extremely pleased to report that our recent article in PCE has received enough citations to place it in the top 0.1% of the academic field of Plant & Animal Sciences.
This paper presents novel insight into the cell-specific allocation of phosphorus (P) within leaves, discussing how a preferential allocation of P to mesophyll cells can improve P-use efficiency. This is highly relevant to improving P-use efficiency in crop species, to understanding and improving management of native species in ancient P-impoverished landscapes and to more generally understanding the regulation of nutrients in higher plants.
New article published in New Phytologist
Hayes PE, Guilherme Pereira C, Clode PL, Lambers H. 2018. Calcium-enhanced phosphorus toxicity in calcifuge and soil-indifferent Proteaceae along the Jurien Bay chronosequence. New Phytologist. doi:10.1111/nph.15447
· Many Proteaceae are highly phosphorus (P)-sensitive and occur exclusively on old nutrient-impoverished acidic soils (calcifuge), whilst a few also occur on young calcareous soils (soil-indifferent), higher in available calcium (Ca) and P. Calcium increases the severity of P-toxicity symptoms, but its underlying mechanisms are unknown. We propose that Ca-enhanced P-toxicity explains the calcifuge habit of most Proteaceae.
· Four calcifuge and four soil-indifferent Proteaceae from south-western Australia were grown in hydroponics, at a range of P and Ca concentrations.
· Calcium increased the severity of P-toxicity symptoms in all species. Calcifuge Proteaceae were more sensitive to Ca-enhanced P toxicity than soil-indifferent ones. Calcifuges shared these traits: low leaf zinc concentration ([Zn]), low Zn allocation to leaves, low leaf [Zn]:[P], low root:shoot ratio, and high seed P content, compared with soil-indifferent species.
· This is the first demonstration of Ca-enhanced P toxicity across multiple species. Calcium-enhanced P toxicity provides an explanation for the calcifuge habit of most Proteaceae and is critical to the management of this iconic Australian family. This study represents a major advance towards an understanding of the physiological mechanisms of P toxicity and its role in the distribution of Proteaceae.
Research featured on the cover of Plant, Cell & Environment
Published the first chapter of my PhD thesis in Plant, Cell & Environment
Hayes PE, Clode PL, Oliveira RS, Lambers H. 2018. Proteaceae from phosphorus-impoverished habitats preferentially allocate phosphorus to photosynthetic cells: an adaptation improving phosphorus-use efficiency. Plant, Cell and Environment 41: 605–619.
Plants allocate nutrients to specific leaf cell types; eudicots are thought to predominantly allocate phosphorus (P) to epidermal/bundle sheath cells. However, three Proteaceae species have been shown to preferentially allocate P to mesophyll cells instead. These Proteaceae species are highly adapted to P‐impoverished habitats, with exceptionally high photosynthetic P‐use efficiencies (PPUE). We hypothesized that preferential allocation of P to photosynthetic mesophyll cells is an important trait in species adapted to extremely P‐impoverished habitats, contributing to their high PPUE. We used elemental X‐ray mapping to determine leaf cell‐specific nutrient concentrations for 12 Proteaceae species, from habitats of strongly contrasting soil P concentrations, in Australia, Brazil, and Chile. We found that only species from extremely P‐impoverished habitats preferentially allocated P to photosynthetic mesophyll cells, suggesting it has evolved as an adaptation to their extremely P‐impoverished habitat and that it is not a family‐wide trait. Our results highlight the possible role of soil P in driving the evolution of ecologically relevant nutrient allocation patterns and that these patterns cannot be generalized across families. Furthermore, preferential allocation of P to photosynthetic cells may provide new and exciting strategies to improve PPUE in crop species.
Co-authored a really nice project with Gang Huang; looking at P-acquisition in the Australian native Peppermint tree, which shifts its P-acquisition strategy with decreasing soil P availability, from mycorrhizal to mass flow
Huang, G., Hayes, P. E., Ryan, M. H., Pang, J., Lambers, H. 2017. Peppermint trees shift their phosphorus-acquisition strategy along a strong gradient of plant-available phosphorus by increasing their transpiration at very low phosphorus availability. Oecologia (in press)
Some plant species use different strategies to acquire phosphorus (P) dependent on environmental conditions, but studies investigating the relative significance of P-acquisition strategies with changing P availability are rare. We combined a natural P availability gradient and a glasshouse study with 10 levels of P supplies to investigate the roles of rhizosphere carboxylates and transpiration-driven mass flow in P acquisition by Agonis flexuosa. Leaf P concentrations of A. flexuosa decreased and leaf manganese (Mn) concentrations increased with decreasing soil P concentration along a dune chronosequence. In the glasshouse, in response to decreasing P supply, shoot growth and root length decreased, leaf P and Mn concentrations decreased, rhizosphere carboxylates decreased, transpiration rate and transpiration ratio increased and the percentage of root length colonized by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi was unchanged. Although it was proved leaf Mn concentration was a good proxy for rhizosphere carboxylate amounts in the glasshouse study, the enhanced plant P acquisition at low P supply was related to transpiration-induced mass flow rather than carboxylates. We deduced that the higher leaf Mn concentrations in low soil P availability of the field were likely a result of increased mass flow. In summary, as soil P availability declined, A. flexuosa can shift its P-acquisition strategy away from a mycorrhizal mode towards one involving increased mass flow.
Attended the International Plant Nutrition Colloquium 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark
An amazing week of science and ideas with friends and colleagues in one of the most innovative and amazing cities, Copenhagen. The conference was all about plant nutrition, with a focus on 'plant nutrition for a global green growth'. There were lots of innovative ideas and strategies to improve worldwide food production, as well some recent advances in plant nutrition. I was lucky enough to be awarded the Marschner Young Scientist Award and was invited to give a plenary presentation, in which I presented one of the most exciting parts of my PhD research, see attached. Thank you to everyone who attended the conference, it was an amazing experience for me, both professionally and personally.
One of four finalists in the 2017 Premier's Science Awards - Student Scientist of the Year
Mr Patrick Hayes
PhD candidate (The University of Western Australia)
Mr Hayes is a PhD student within the School of Biological Sciences and the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis at UWA. His PhD research is focused on the plant family Proteaceae and their distribution in WA and abroad. Mr Hayes uses cutting-edge techniques such as electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy to investigate and analyse how these native Australian plants are able to survive on nutrient poor soils. This research will further understanding of Australia’s unique endemic plants, improving ecosystem conservation and restoration strategies and thus preserving Australia’s naturally high biodiversity.
Recipient of the 2017 Marschner Young Scientist Award
Awarded by the International Plant Nutrition Colloquium
A highly prestigious and competitive award for outstanding early-career researchers and PhD students with a potential to become future research leaders.
Invited to give a plenary oral presentation at IPNC2017 Copenhagen, free registration and 500 € financial support to attend IPNC2017.
Co-authored an exciting new publication with UWA PhD graduate Dr Kenny Png
Png, G. K., Turner, B. L., Albornoz, F. E., Hayes, P. E., Lambers, H. and Laliberté, E. 2017. Greater root phosphatase activity in nitrogen-fixing rhizobial but not actinorhizal plants with declining phosphorus availability. Journal of Ecology (in press)
- The abundance of nitrogen (N)-fixing plants in ecosystems where phosphorus (P) limits plant productivity poses a paradox because N fixation entails a high P cost. One explanation for this paradox is that the N-fixing strategy allows greater root phosphatase activity to enhance P acquisition from organic sources, but evidence to support this contention is limited.
- We measured root phosphomonoesterase (PME) activity of 10 N-fixing species, including rhizobial legumes and actinorhizal Allocasuarina species, and eight non-N-fixing species across a retrogressive soil chronosequence showing a clear shift from N to P limitation of plant growth and representing a strong natural gradient in P availability.
- Legumes showed greater root PME activity than non-legumes, with the difference between these two groups increasing markedly as soil P availability declined. By contrast, root PME activity of actinorhizal species was always lower than that of co-occurring legumes and not different from non-N-fixing plants.
- The difference in root PME activity between legumes and actinorhizal plants was not reflected in a greater or similar reliance on N fixation for N acquisition by actinorhizal species compared to co-occurring legumes.
- Synthesis. Our results support the idea that N-fixing legumes show high root phosphatase activity, especially at low soil P availability, but suggest that this is a phylogenetically conserved trait rather than one directly linked to their N-fixation capacity.