Consultants | Dr Robert Koebner
Dr Koebner was awarded a first class bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science, majoring in plant breeding and genetics, from the University of Queensland in 1980. He won a University of Adelaide overseas student scholarship to undertake a PhD at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, under the supervision of Dr KW Shepherd. His thesis topic centred on the exploitation of the ph1 mutant gene to induce wheat chromosomes to pair and recombine with related chromosomes in other grass species. This research was pioneering in that it was the first to demonstrate genetically the feasibility of recombination between the chromosomes of wheat and rye, and to explore the value of genetic markers to select for rare recombinants. Direct outputs of the thesis research were four papers in leading international peer-reviewed journals, and the identification of a set of genetic wheat/rye recombinant materials, which entered the Waite Institute wheat breeding programme on the strength of the presence of a rye gene encoding resistance to stem rust, which is yet to break down in the field.
Subsequently, he joined the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge as a postdoctoral fellow in a project which extended his work on introgression in wheat. When the PBI was privatised in 1989, his research programme was relocated to the John Innes Centre, Norwich. In addition to managing his research programme, he acted as a PhD supervisor and examiner on behalf of the University of Cambridge, and continued in these roles in Norwich on behalf of the Unversity of East Anglia. In all, he has supervised to completion eight PhD students and numerous MSc students, and has acted as examiner on behalf of UK and overseas universities, including the University of Lund, Sweden; University of Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal; Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; University of Toulouse, France; UMB As, Norway; University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and the University of Sydney, Australia.