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Professor Phil Brewer

PhD, BSci(Hons), GradDipEd, BAppSci,
Professor - Crop Sciences-702851
School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences
Institute for Future Farming Systems
Rockhampton North
361 - 1.20
About Me

Prof. Phil Brewer is a plant biologist, who specialises in molecular biology, cell biology and plant physiology. His focus is on quality research that has impact with real-world relevance. Phil is fascinated with DNA as the code of life and how this code is translated into signals that move within and between cells. The flow of signals provides plant cells with critical information to co-ordinate growth and development. Phil's recent research has focused on production and action of plant hormones, in particularly, the complex interactions between strigolactones and auxin. Strigolactones are regulators of shoot branching, root architecture and plant-fungi symbiosis. They are promoted by auxin and help crop plants cope with sub-optimal growth conditions, such as low nutrients, shading, cold, drought and salinity, and attack from pathogens or parasitic weeds. Strigolactones function directly in responsive plant cells through regulating gene expression (transcription). However, they also display a distinctive non-transcriptional inhibition of auxin cell efflux transporters. A key research aim for Prof. Brewer is to uncover the mechanisms of plant hormone function, and how this affects plant architecture in crops.


Prof. Phil Brewer completed his PhD in plant reproductive development at Monash University with Prof. David Smyth. Prior to that, Phil was a high school teacher. After his PhD, he completed postdoctoral positions in Germany with Prof. Jiri Friml and Queensland with Prof. Christine Beveridge. After working in university administration for a while, Phil was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship at the Waite Research Institute, The University of Adelaide. His Fellowship allowed him to return to research and transition from fundamental plant biology to applied crop research. He has since been promoted to professor of crop research at CQUniversity.

Universities Studied At

Phil received his formal education as Bachelor of Applied Biology at RMIT University, Bachelor of Science Honours at The University of Melbourne, Graduate Diploma in Education and Doctor of Philosophy at Monash University.

Universities Worked At

Phil has been employed by Monash University, Tuebingen University, The University of Queensland, Charles Darwin University, The University of Adelaide and Central Queensland University.


Phil has been awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

Professional Experience

Phil has worked for 15+ years as a research scientists within various Australian universities.


Phil leads the Cropping Cluster at Central Queensland Innovation and Research Precinct (CQIRP), North Rockhampton. The Cropping Cluster is part of the Institute for Future Farming Systems of CQUniversity and undertakes research into high-value sub-tropical crops and farming systems.

Professional Interests

As a research-focused, senior academic, Phil is responsible for developing and managing high-level research initiatives in crop development that incorporate the latest research. The role also involves working on submissions for journals and grant funding bodies, delivering seminars and lectures at university meetings and international conferences, fielding media requests, managing research facilities, lecturing and demonstrating to students, supervising staff and research students, and assisting with student and staff recruitment and careers.

Key Achievements

Co-discoverer of strigolactones as a novel plant hormone class (2008). American Society of Plant Biologists highly-cited author (2013). Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2019). World Top 2% Scientist (Stanford single-year snapshot 2023). 


Phil is a reviewer and editor for a range plant-specific journal and grant schemes.

Recent Research Projects
No research projects to display.
Research Supervision

I am currently accredited for supervision in the following:

  • 3105 Genetics
  • 3108 Plant Biology
  • 3002 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
  • 3004 Crop and Pasture Production
  • 3001 Agricultural Biotechnology

At the level of Principal Supervisor

Current Capacity
I am currently available to supervise more research candidates
No Supervisions to display.
Research Interests
Biological Sciences

Plant Biology - Plant Cell and Molecular Biology

Biological Sciences

Plant Biology - Plant Developmental and Reproductive Biology

Biological Sciences

Plant Biology - Plant Physiology

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