Dr Greg Kirby

Academic Status

College of Science and Engineering

place Biological Sciences (117)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Started academic life in Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand where I majored in Zoology with Chemistry and Mathematics. Moved to the University of Adelaide for my PhD, where I worked on the population genetics of subdivided populations and used feral populations of the house mouse as my experimental model. Changed to working on the genetics of fungal pathogens of plants with a post-doctoral position at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Started work at Flinders in 1975, initially with a research focus on smut fungi of grasses and cereal crops. Study Leaves took me to the University of Sussex, CSIRO Plant Industry in Canberra, CSIRO Horticulture in Adelaide and Adelaide University. My research shifted to plant breeding and I have spent two decades domesticating Sturt Peas for commercial production.

B.Sc(Hns) from Canterbury University (NZ) (1969)
PhD from University of Adelaide (1975)
Key responsibilities
Coordinator of Honours degrees in the School of Biological Sciences for many years until 2008 and Coordinator of the B. Ecotourism degree 2009/10.
Research interests
  • Fungal studies: in addition to a long term interest in the genetics and ecology of smut fungi, I have also been interested in fungal biodiversity, endophytic fungi, the grey mould fungus (Botrytis cinerea) and the population genetics of gene-for-gene interactions between plants and their pathogens.
  • Horticultural plant breeding: my main focus has been on Sturt's Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) breeding for the cut flower market and as a compact, upright, early flowering pot plant.
  • Conservation and restoration ecology: I developed an interest in these topics when responsible for the National Trust's nature reserves in SA. Subsequently I have taught in these topics and practiced the methods on properties that I manage. Currently I am researching the "best" methods for "drill and fill" destruction of feral Olive trees.
  • Ecotourism: I have supervised students looking at the impacts of tours on sealion and dolphin behaviour and remain interested in what enthuses people about wildlife tours and interactions with wildlife.
Teaching interests
I have now retired from teaching. The topics that I enjoyed teaching include biostatistics, population and quantitative genetics, plant breeding, ecotourism, conservation biology of plants, Australian floral heritage and tourism research.
Expert for media contact
Biology of Fungi
Plant Breeding
Sturt's Desert Peas
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Ecology
  • Plants
  • Tourism
  • Biology of Fungi
  • Ecotourism
  • Plant Breeding
  • Sturt's Desert Peas
Further information

I retired at the end of May 2011 and have remained research active to complete the breeding of commercial varieties of Sturt Peas and tidy up some other research projects on smut fungi. The "Flinders Flame" cultivar was successfully trialled for sale in 2013 and larger scale production in 2014. A PBR application for this cultivar was accepted in late 2014, but with the modified name "Flindersflame". For further information about "Flinders Flame", see the added document.

I am available for consultancies involving native plants, ecotourism, restoration ecology, Plant Breeders Rights, and plant breeding.

Flinders Flame information (doc)

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