Dr Patrick E. Hayes

Senior Environmental Scientist

Astron Environmental Services


East Perth, Western Australia, AUSTRALIA

Adjunct Research Fellow

School of Biological Sciences

The University of Western Australia (UWA)

Perth, Western Australia, AUSTRALIA

Web of Science ResearcherID: D-4679-2014

ORCID ID: 0000-0001-7554-4588




I am a plant biologist with a strong interest in the field of plant ecophysiology and environmental management. 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/future agricultural practices and in improving our management of the natural environment around us. 

I currently hold a Senior Environmental Scientist position at Astron Environmental Services, and an Adjunct Research Fellow position at the University of Western Australia.

I am involved with a number of research projects at UWA and collaborate with international researchers. I have held postdoctoral research positions at the University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia (2020-2023) and at the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, Tsukuba City, Japan (2018-2020). I completed my PhD at the University of Western Australia in 2018 (sups: E/Prof Hans Lambers & Assoc/Prof Peta Clode) and my undergraduate, and Honours at the University of Western Australia in 2013. 

My research projects at UWA are focused on understanding plant nutrient dynamics in native species, including how P is allocated and utilised among species with contrasting growth strategies. Prior to this, my reseach was based in Japan (Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences) and was focused on understanding phosphorus-use efficiency in rice and how it could be optimised through a greater understanding of the physiological mechanisms involved and their genetic links. My earlier, PhD research at UWA, involved using cryoSEM and X-ray microanalysis, as well as glasshouse experiments and field studies to investigate the role of calcium enhanced phosphorus toxicity in explaining the absence of most Proteaceae from calcareous habitats. My Honours research at UWA was centred on understanding plant nutrient-use efficiency and nutrient acquisition strategies in species from severely P-impoverished environments.

Key Skills and Expertise


Final study from my PhD has been published in Plant and Soil


Calcifuge and soil-indifferent Proteaceae from south-western Australia: novel strategies in a calcareous habitat

Hayes P.E., Clode P.L., Lambers H. (in press) Calcifuge and soil-indifferent Proteaceae from south-western Australia: novel strategies in a calcareous habitat. Plant and Soil (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-023-06297-9)



Background and aims

Proteaceae are a prominent plant family in south-western Australia. Most Proteaceae are ‘calcifuge’, occurring exclusively on old phosphorus (P)-impoverished acidic soils, with a few ‘soil-indifferent’ species also found on young P-richer calcareous soils. Calcium (Ca)-enhanced P toxicity explains the calcifuge habit of Proteaceae. However, previous research has so far been focused exclusively on the roles of Ca and P in determining Proteaceae distribution, and consequently there is little knowledge on how other soil-based strategies influence this distribution. We aimed to study the effects of young calcareous soils on four soil-grown Proteaceae and assess differences between calcifuge and soil-indifferent Proteaceae to better understand their natural distribution.

Two calcifuge and two soil-indifferent Proteaceae from south-western Australia were grown in six contrasting soils, including young calcareous, and old acidic soils.

When grown in calcareous soils all species showed root growth inhibition, micronutrient deficiency, Ca-enhanced P toxicity, and negative impacts on physiology. Calcifuge species were more sensitive to calcareous soils than soil-indifferent ones, although this varied between genera. Soil-indifferent species tended to produce more cluster roots, release more carboxylates per root mass, and allocate less Ca to their leaves, compared with calcifuges; they also had smaller seeds and were less sensitive to Ca-enhanced P toxicity.

We surmise that a combination of these traits allows soil-indifferent species to tolerate calcareous soils. This study provides insight into how Proteaceae respond to young calcareous soils and how this influences their distribution.

Proud to have our image as the July winner!

Banquet: A carnivorous plant (Drosera sp. sundew) with partially digested meal (you can see the faceted eye!)

CREDIT: Peta Clode and Patrick Hayes, CMCA@UWA (University of Western Australia, Perth)


Exciting new paper published in Annals of Botany: investigating changes in P-fractions in rice under P-stress and how this can be used to understand internal P-use efficiency in this critically important crop 


Leaf phosphorus fractionation in rice to understand internal phosphorus-use efficiency

Hayes P.E., Adem A.D., Pariasca-Tanaka J., Wissuwa M. (2022) Leaf phosphorus fractionation in rice to understand internal phosphorus-use efficiency. Annals of Botany 129(3): 287-302 (https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcab138)



Background and Aims 

Phosphorus (P) availability is often limiting for rice (Oryza sativa) production. Improving internal P-use efficiency (PUE) is crucial to sustainable food production, particularly in low-input systems. A critical aspect of PUE in plants, and one that remains poorly understood, is the investment of leaf P in different chemical P fractions (nucleic acid-P, lipid-P, inorganic-P, metabolite-P and residual-P). The overarching objective of this study was to understand how these key P fractions influence PUE.


Three high-PUE and two low-PUE rice genotypes were grown in hydroponics with contrasting P supplies. We measured PUE, total P, P fractions, photosynthesis and biomass.

Key Results 

Low investment in lipid-P was strongly associated with increased photosynthetic PUE (PPUE), achieved by reducing total leaf P concentration while maintaining rapid photosynthetic rates. All low-P plants exhibited a low investment in inorganic-P and lipid-P, but not nucleic acid-P. In addition, whole-plant PUE was strongly associated with reduced total P concentration, increased biomass and increased preferential allocation of resources to the youngest mature leaves.


Lipid remodelling has been shown in rice before, but we show for the first time that reduced lipid-P investment improves PUE in rice without reducing photosynthesis. This presents a novel pathway for increasing PUE by targeting varieties with reduced lipid-P investment. This will benefit rice production in low-P soils and in areas where fertilizer use is limited, improving global food security by reducing P fertilizer demands and food production costs.

AusTraits a new database of plant traits for the Australian flora


AusTraits, a curated plant trait database for the Australian flora

Falster D., Gallagher R., Wenk EH, ... Hayes P.E., ... et al. (2021) AusTraits, a curated plant trait database for the Australian flora. Scientific Data 8: 254. (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-021-01006-6)


We introduce the AusTraits database - a compilation of values of plant traits for taxa in the Australian flora (hereafter AusTraits). AusTraits synthesises data on 448 traits across 28,640 taxa from field campaigns, published literature, taxonomic monographs, and individual taxon descriptions. Traits vary in scope from physiological measures of performance (e.g. photosynthetic gas exchange, water-use efficiency) to morphological attributes (e.g. leaf area, seed mass, plant height) which link to aspects of ecological variation. AusTraits contains curated and harmonised individual- and species-level measurements coupled to, where available, contextual information on site properties and experimental conditions. This article provides information on version 3.0.2 of AusTraits which contains data for 997,808 trait-by-taxon combinations. We envision AusTraits as an ongoing collaborative initiative for easily archiving and sharing trait data, which also provides a template for other national or regional initiatives globally to fill persistent gaps in trait knowledge.

The plant family Proteaceae is exceptionally diverse and our recent paper in Plant and Soil explores why this is


Traits related to efficient acquisition and use of phosphorus promote diversification in Proteaceae in phosphorus-impoverished landscapes

Hayes P.E.*, Nge F.J.*, Cramer M.D., Finnegan P.M., Fu P., Hopper S.D., Oliveira R.S., Turner B.L., Zemunik G., Zhong H., Lambers H. (2021) Plant and Soil https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-021-04886-0


Background and aims: Plant species richness increases with declining soil phosphorus (P) availability, especially for Proteaceae in old infertile landscapes. This difference in richness might be attributed to faster diversification in lineages adapted to P-impoverished soils, i.e. species that possess specialised P-acquisition strategies, and have lower leaf P concentration ([P]) and higher seed [P]. Alternatively, a longer time for species accumulation might contribute to high species richness in low-P environments due to the geological stability of the landscapes in which they evolved. 

Methods: We assessed differences in diversification of Proteaceae in P-impoverished vs. nutrient-rich environments and whether these were linked to adaptations to P-impoverished soils. We explored mature leaf and seed [P] and investigated how these traits changed over the evolutionary history of the family, and within two species-rich genera (Banksia, Hakea). Results: Faster diversification was correlated with lower leaf and higher seed [P] for species-rich genera across the Proteaceae. For Banksia and Hakea, diversification rates peaked at relatively low leaf [P], but not at the lowest leaf [P]. Ancestral state reconstructions indicated that low leaf [P] is a trait that was likely present in the early evolution of the Proteaceae, with recent transitions to higher leaf [P] across several species-poor rainforest genera. 

Conclusions: Diversification of Proteaceae correlated strongly with P-related traits. In an evolutionary context, functional cluster roots, low leaf [P] and high seed [P] were likely key innovations allowing diversification. Selection for low leaf [P] early in the evolutionary history of Proteaceae pre-adapted ancestors of this family to diversify into oligotrophic environments. We discuss how our findings are likely relevant for understanding diversification dynamics of other plant families that occur in P-impoverished environments.

An insightful Commentary on this article was also written by Mark Westoby and Daniel Falster

The conservative low-phosphorus niche in Proteaceae

Westoby M., Falster D.S. (2021) Plant and Soil 




Proteaceae are an ecologically distinctive family, with largest radiations in the sclerophyll vegetation types of Australia and South Africa. This brief paper comments on Hayes et al. (2021), who have mapped leaf phosphorus concentration on to the phylogenetic tree for the family.


Considered across all seed plants worldwide, Proteaceae contribute most of the lowest leaf nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations known. Hayes et al. concluded that they have used low-phosphorus strategy from their origins ca. 100 My ago. Occasional excursions into higher leaf P have been relatively recent and have not produced many species. The family as a whole is an instance of phylogenetic niche conservatism. The conservatism arises not from trait inertia but from the intensity of competition in continental vegetation, giving Proteaceae competitive advantage within distinct niches and inhibiting them from radiating into other ways of life. When a distinct niche is concentrated into a single clade in this way, quantitative methods that test for replicate patterns across multiple clades will not detect strong signal. However, niche-conservative clades make important and distinctive contributions to the world’s ecology.

Three exciting new papers out in August!!


Leaf manganese concentrations as a tool to assess belowground plant functioning in phosphorus-impoverished environments (Plant and Soil)

Lambers H., Wright I.J., Guilherme Pereira C., Bellingham P.J., Bentley L.P., Boonman A., Cernusak L.A., Foulds W., Gleason S.M., Gray E.F., Hayes P.E., Kooyman R.M., Malhi Y., Richardson S.J., Shane M.W., Staudinger C., Stock W.D., Swarts N.D., Turner B.L., Turner J., Veneklaas E.J., Wasaki J., Westoby M., Xu Y. 

First cryo-scanning electron microscopy images and X-ray microanalysis of mucoromycotinian fine root endophytes in vascular plants (Frontiers in Microbiology)

Albornoz F.E., Hayes P.E., Orchard S., Clode P.L., Nazeri N., Standish R.J., Dickie I.A., Bending G.D., Hilton S., Ryan M.H. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.02018

The influence of soil age on ecosystem structure and function across biomes (Nature Communications)

Delgado-Baquerizo M., Reich P.B., Bardgett R.D., Eldridge D.J., Lambers H., Wardle D.A., Reed S.C., Plaza C., Png G.K., Sigrid N., Berhe A.A., Hart S.C., Hu H.-W., He J.-Z., Bastida F., Abades S., Alfaro F.D., Cutler N.A., Gallardo A., García-Velázquez L., Hayes P.E., Hseu Z.-Y., Pérez C.A., Santos F., Siebe C., Trivedi P., Sullivan B.W., Weber-Grullon L., Williams M.A., Fierer N. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18451-3

New Postdoctoral Research Associate position at the University of Western Australia


I have now begun my second postdoctoral position. A three year Research Associate position on an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Discovery Project at the University of Western Australia. The project is titled "Plant nitrate restraint: Does constraining nitrate influx systems accompany high leaf phosphorus-use efficiency in a phosphorus-impoverished ecosystem?", and will be led by E/Prof Hans Lambers and Assoc/Prof Patrick Finnegan. I am very excited to be involved in this project and am looking forward to the new discoveries we will be sure to make.

Hakea neurophylla - Jurien Bay, WA

Nature Ecology & Evolution article: Multiple elements of soil biodiversity drive ecosystem functions across biomes


Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Reich, P.B., Trivedi, C., Eldridge, D.J., Abades, S., Alfaro, F.D., Bastida, F., Berhe, A.A., Cutler, N.A., Gallardo, A., García-Velázquez, L., Hart, S.C., Hayes, P.E., He, J.-Z., Hseu, Z.-Y., Hu, H.-W., Kirchmair, M., Neuhauser, S., Pérez, C.A., Reed, S.C., Santos, F., Sullivan, B.W., Trivedi, P., Wang, J.-T., Weber-Grullon, L., Williams, M.A., Singh, B.K., 2020. Multiple elements of soil biodiversity drive ecosystem functions across biomes. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4: 210–220 (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-1084-y) Link to free view


The role of soil biodiversity in regulating multiple ecosystem functions is poorly understood, limiting our ability to predict how soil biodiversity loss might affect human wellbeing and ecosystem sustainability. Here, combining a global observational study with an experimental microcosm study, we provide evidence that soil biodiversity (bacteria, fungi, protists and invertebrates) is significantly and positively associated with multiple ecosystem functions. These functions include nutrient cycling, decomposition, plant production, and reduced potential for pathogenicity and belowground biological warfare. Our findings also reveal the context dependency of such relationships and the importance of the connectedness, biodiversity and nature of the globally distributed dominant phylotypes within the soil network in maintaining multiple functions. Moreover, our results suggest that the positive association between plant diversity and multifunctionality across biomes is indirectly driven by soil biodiversity. Together, our results provide insights into the importance of soil biodiversity for maintaining soil functionality locally and across biomes, as well as providing strong support for the inclusion of soil biodiversity in conservation and management programmes.

New Phytologist article is now 'ISI Highly Cited'


I am extremely pleased to report that our article published earlier this year in New Phytologist has received enough citations to place it in the top 1% of the academic field of Plant & Animal Sciences.

This study reports on the role of Ca-enhanced P toxicity in explaining the distribution of Proteaceae species, providing a novel mechanism for the calcifuge habit of most Proteaceae, and possibly for other calcifuge species. This knowledge is critical in management of this iconic and ecologically important plant family, the Proteaceae, which contribute significantly to Australia's biodiversity, particularly south-western Australia, a global biodiversity hotspot.

Link to Article

Presented at Microscopy and Microanalysis 2019: Analysing cell-level allocation of calcium and phosphorus in leaves of Proteaceae from south-western Australia

August 2019

Hayes, P.E., Clode, P.L., Pereira, C.G., Lambers, H., 2019. Analysing Cell-Level Allocation of Calcium and Phosphorus in Leaves of Proteaceae from South-Western Australia. Microscopy and Microanalysis 25: 1080–1081 (https://doi.org/10.1017/S1431927619006135)

Nature Communications article: Global ecological predictors of the soil priming effect


Bastida, F., García, C., Fierer, N., Eldridge, D.J., Bowker, M.A., Abades, S., Alfaro, F.D., Asefaw Berhe, A., Cutler, N.A., Gallardo, A., García-Velázquez, L., Hart, S.C., Hayes, P.E., Hernández, T., Hseu, Z.-Y., Jehmlich, N., Kirchmair, M., Lambers, H., Neuhauser, S., Peña-Ramírez, V.M., Pérez, C.A., Reed, S.C., Santos, F., Siebe, C., Sullivan, B.W., Trivedi, P., Vera, A., Williams, M.A., Luis Moreno, J., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., 2019. Global ecological predictors of the soil priming effect. Nature Communications 10: 3481 (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11472-7)


Identifying the global drivers of soil priming is essential to understanding C cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. We conducted a survey of soils across 86 globally-distributed locations, spanning a wide range of climates, biotic communities, and soil conditions, and evaluated the apparent soil priming effect using 13C-glucose labeling. Here we show that the magnitude of the positive apparent priming effect (increase in CO2 release through accelerated microbial biomass turnover) was negatively associated with SOC content and microbial respiration rates. Our statistical modeling suggests that apparent priming effects tend to be negative in more mesic sites associated with higher SOC contents. In contrast, a single-input of labile C causes positive apparent priming effects in more arid locations with low SOC contents. Our results provide solid evidence that SOC content plays a critical role in regulating apparent priming effects, with important implications for the improvement of C cycling models under global change scenarios.

PNAS article: Changes in belowground biodiversity during ecosystem development


Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Bardgett, R.D., Vitousek, P.M., Maestre, F.T., Williams, M.A., Eldridge, D.J., Lambers, H., Neuhauser, S., Gallardo, A., García-Velázquez, L., Sala, O.E., Abades, S.R., Alfaro, F.D., Berhe, A.A., Bowker, M.A., Currier, C.M., Cutler, N.A., Hart, S.C., Hayes, P.E., Hseu, Z.-Y., Kirchmair, M., Peña-Ramírez, V.M., Pérez, C.A., Reed, S.C., Santos, F., Siebe, C., Sullivan, B.W., Weber-Grullon, L., Fierer, N. 2019. Changes in belowground biodiversity during ecosystem development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116: 6891–6896 (https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1818400116)


Belowground organisms play critical roles in maintaining multiple ecosystem processes, including plant productivity, decomposition, and nutrient cycling. Despite their importance, however, we have a limited understanding of how and why belowground biodiversity (bacteria, fungi, protists, and invertebrates) may change as soils develop over centuries to millennia (pedogenesis). Moreover, it is unclear whether belowground biodiversity changes during pedogenesis are similar to the patterns observed for aboveground plant diversity. Here we evaluated the roles of resource availability, nutrient stoichiometry, and soil abiotic factors in driving belowground biodiversity across 16 soil chronosequences (from centuries to millennia) spanning a wide range of globally distributed ecosystem types. Changes in belowground biodiversity during pedogenesis followed two main patterns. In lower-productivity ecosystems (i.e., drier and colder), increases in belowground biodiversity tracked increases in plant cover. In more productive ecosystems (i.e., wetter and warmer), increased acidification during pedogenesis was associated with declines in belowground biodiversity. Changes in the diversity of bacteria, fungi, protists, and invertebrates with pedogenesis were strongly and positively correlated worldwide, highlighting that belowground biodiversity shares similar ecological drivers as soils and ecosystems develop. In general, temporal changes in aboveground plant diversity and belowground biodiversity were not correlated, challenging the common perception that belowground biodiversity should follow similar patterns to those of plant diversity during ecosystem development. Taken together, our findings provide evidence that ecological patterns in belowground biodiversity are predictable across major globally distributed ecosystem types and suggest that shifts in plant cover and soil acidification during ecosystem development are associated with changes in belowground biodiversity over centuries to millennia.

Research article published in the European Journal of Soil Science


Turner, B.L., Hayes, P.E., Laliberté, E., 2018. A climosequence of chronosequences in southwestern Australia. European Journal of Soil Science 69, 69–85.

Link to Article 


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.

Turner et al. - 2018 - A climosequence of chronosequences in southwestern.pdf

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.

Link to Article

New article published in New Phytologist


Hayes, P.E., Guilherme Pereira, C., Clode, P.L., 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

Link to Article


·      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, P.E., Clode, P.L., Oliveira, R.S., 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.

Link to Article


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.

Hayes_et_al-2018-PCE-Proteaceae P allocation.pdf

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

IPNC 2017, Conference Proceedings 

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

Winners Announced

UWA Announcement

Premier's Science Awards 2017 finalist list 

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

Award Information 

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)