Dr Peter Thrall - CSIRO Plant Industry scientist

Dr Peter Thrall: investigating plant-microbe relationships

Dr Peter Thrall leads research to improve plant production and protect plants from disease and pests.

  • 24 June 2010 | Updated 26 March 2012

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Peter Thrall’s research centres on the ecology and evolution of natural plant-microbe interactions, and he has a long-standing interest in the spatial dynamics and coevolutionary biology of host-pathogen systems.

His current research is in two related areas: 

  • integrating molecular and population-level studies to elucidate the consequences of demographic and genetic processes for the evolution of host resistance and pathogen virulence
  • community and evolutionary ecology of plant-soil community interactions in both natural and agricultural settings.

Recent work in this area has focused on the use of beneficial symbionts to increase the cost-effectiveness of large-scale revegetation.


Dr Thrall joined CSIRO Plant Industry in 1997 after completing a doctoral and postdoctoral appointment at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA.

His research combines theoretical, experimental and comparative techniques to investigate the ecological and evolutionary interactions between hosts and pathogens in spatially structured situations.

Dr Peter Thrall investigates the ecology and evolution of natural plant-microbe interactions.

Dr Thrall's experience with plant-microbe interactions has led to his strong applied interest in soil symbionts, particularly with regard to their use in developing sustainable solutions to large-scale environmental problems such as dryland salinity. 

Dr Thrall has a key interest in the development of a broad theoretical and conceptual framework for understanding disease dynamics and evolution in relation to host and pathogen life-history in both plant and animal systems.

Academic qualifications

Dr Thrall received a Bachelor of Arts (Biology) in 1986 and a Masters of Science (Plant Ecology) in 1988, both from the University of Connecticut, Hartford, Connecticut, USA.

He was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (Botany), in 1993 from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


Dr Thrall held an Australian Research Council's Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship between 1998 and 2003.

He is a senior editor of Ecology Letters, an associate editor for Evolutionary Applications and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Ecology. He has published more than 100 papers in refereed journals.

Dr Thrall received a CSIRO Newton-Turner Career Award in 2009.

See Dr Thrall's academic papers on the next page.