La Trobe University Riverlink doctoral graduates a first for Mildura

La Trobe University's Mildura campus will graduate its first 'Riverlink Postgraduate Research Network' Doctoral students at a ceremony this Friday, 29 February.

The network — set up in 2004 to meet the need for specialised training, education and research for regional irrigated horticultural industries — is a joint initiative between the University and federal and state government research agencies.

The graduates are Katina Lindhout and Joanna Tregeagle. They gained their PhD degrees for projects that assist two major local industries: grape and citrus growing. Executive Director of the Mildura Campus, Kent Farrell, said they undertook a significant part of their study in the region.

'We therefore regard them as part of our local academic family,' Mr Farrell said, 'and are thrilled they will get their awards at our graduation ceremony.'

Dr Lindhout's research has led to a better understanding of mechanism that can cause deterioration of orange rind after harvest. She says storage disorders of navel oranges are a problem for the citrus industry, but objective descriptors for the various types of disorders was lacking and knowledge of the physiology underpinning them was poor.

She identified seven distinct forms of chilling–related injuries and demonstrated that each was formed by different patterns of cellular collapse in fruit rinds. Dr Lindhout also found plant cells may experience oxidative stress, an imbalance between damaging free–radicals and restorative antioxidants. Her project was supported by the Murray Valley Citrus Board, Horticulture Australia Limited and CSIRO.

With salinity of irrigation water of great concern to the wine industry, Dr Tregeagle examined the response of Chardonnay and Shiraz grape vines, each grafted to a variety of root stocks, to determine which root stocks coped better with long–term exposure to saline irrigation in vineyards.

She studied salt concentrations in juice and leaves from grapevines at two sites in Victoria and South Australia, comparing samples from 1997 and 2004. Her work showed that the ability of some root stocks to exclude chloride diminished after long–term exposure to salinity, and that this was determined by mechanisms mainly in the roots.

About 70 graduates will be awarded their degrees and diplomas at the Mildura campus graduation ceremony. The ceremony, at the Mildura Arts Centre, starts at 2.15 pm. The guest speaker will be Professor Alan Hayes, Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The guest speaker at the ceremony will be Professor Alan Hayes, Director of Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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