Professor Richard Trethowan

Research interests

I want to produce more food with less water: I am interested in developing crop cultivars that use water more efficiently. We can introduce genetic variation for stress tolerance into commercial cultivars from ancestral forms of some of the world’s most important food crops. This work benefits the agriculture industry in many ways: it increases productivity, raises income, and improves the sustainability of farming systems.

A combined genetic and agronomic approach to improving productivity – while maintaining the resource base – is vital in the context of climate change.


Richard was appointed as a Professor of Plant Breeding in the Faculty in 2006. He has a B.Sc and a PhD from the University of Sydney, and is currently Director of the IA Watson Grain Research Centre within the Plant Breeding Institute. He leads the Crop and Food Systems research group within the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and is the Product Delivery Coordinator for Wheat In Asia for the Generation Challenge Program. Prior to 2006 he led the Wheat Breeding Program for Rainfed Areas at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, headquartered near Mexico City.

Recent publications

  • Ky L. Mathews, Richard Trethowan, Andrew Milgate, Thomas Payne, Maarten van Ginkel, Jose Crossa, Ian DeLacy, Mark Cooper, Scott C. Chapman. 2011. Indirect selection using reference and probe genotype performance in multi-environment trials. Crop and Pasture Science, 62, 1–15.
  • Saint Pierre C., Richard Trethowan and Matthew Reynolds. 2010. Stem water-soluble carbohydrates, stem solidness and grain yield under drought and well-irrigated conditions. Functional Plant Biology 37:166-174.
  • A.K. Joshi, J. Crossa, B. Arun, R. Chand, R. Trethowan, M. Vargas and I. Ortiz-Monasterio. 2010. Genotype x environment interaction for zinc and iron concentration of wheat grain in eastern Gangetic Plains of India. Field Crops Research, 116: 268-277.
  • Wilkes, M.A., David Seung, Gilles Levavasseur, Richard M. Trethowan, and Les Copeland. 2010. Effects of Soil Type and Tillage on Protein and Starch Quality in Three Related Wheat Genotypes. Cereal Chem. 87(2):95–99.
  • Verhulst N, Adrian Carrillo-Garc'a Carina Moeller, Richard Trethowan, Kenneth D. Sayre, Bram Govaerts. 2010. Conservation agriculture for wheat-based gravity irrigation systems: increasing resilience though improved soil quality. Plant and Soil 340:467-479.
  • Hernandez-Segundo, E., F. Capettini, R. Trethowan, M. van Ginkel, A. Mejia, A. Carballo, J. Crossa and M. Vargas. 2009. Main Mega-Environments identification for Barley based on twenty-seven years of grain yield data evaluation from experimental locations worldwide. Crop Science 49:1705-1718.
  • Trethowan, R.M. and M. Turner. 2009. New Targets in Wheat Improvement. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, 4, No. 009. CAB international (Online ISSN 1749-8848)
  • Trethowan, R.M., and M. van Ginkel. 2009. Synthetic Wheat – an Emerging Genetic Resource. Pp 369-386. In Wheat: Science and Trade, Chapter 16. B. Carver (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, Iowa, USA.
  • DeLacy, I.H., P.N. Fox, Graham McLaren, Richard Trethowan, and Jeffrey W. White. A Conceptual Model for Describing Processes of Crop Improvement in Database Structures. Crop Science 49: 2100-2112.
  • Trethowan, R.M., M. Turner and T. Chattha. 2009. Breeding strategies to adapt crops to a changing climate. In ‘Climate change and food security: Adapting agriculture to a warmer world’. Chapter 9. Editors David Lobell and Marshall Burke (in press).