Professor Stephen Trueman has extensive experience in plant reproductive biology and propagation, specializing in trees used for horticulture, forestry or pharmaceuticals. He has held positions previously at the University of Missouri, La Trobe University, The University of Queensland, and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Stephen has managed large projects in macadamia, avocado, leptospermum, eucalypt, mahogany, exotic pine and Wollemi pine cultivation and has attracted more than $20 million in research funding.
He studies the interactions between pollination, nutrition and hormones in plant processes such as fruit development and root formation. He uses DNA techniques to determine the paternity of seeds and kernels, and he employs modern sensor technologies to rapidly assess fruit and nut quality.
Other projects are focusing on cultivation of valuable plants for pharmaceutical production, urban fauna habitat and stormwater treatment.
Selected research projects
- Increasing yield and quality in tropical horticulture with better pollination, fruit retention and nutrient distribution. Professor Stephen Trueman, Professor Helen Wallace, Dr Steven Ogbourne, Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai, Dr Grant Thorp, Dr David Pattemore, Dr Helen Boldingh, Dr Colleen Mullen, Assistant Professor Sara Leonhardt. Hort Innovation Pollination Fund. 2018-2023. This project aims to increase farm gate profitability through better understanding of crop nutrition during crop pollination and better understanding of the effects of cross-pollination on fruit quality.
- Eco-friendly fertilisers for sustainable farming. Dr Chanyarat Paungfoo-Lonhienne, Dr Nikolai Kinaev, Dr Nantida Watanarojanaporn, Mr Noel Wright, Mr Andrew Dougall, Mr Lawrence Di Bella, Dr Matthew Redding, Dr Weijin Wang, Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr Brett Ferguson, Professor Susanne Schmidt. CRC Projects. 2018-2021. This project is testing a new eco-friendly fertiliser technology, containing plant growth promoting rhizobacteria and innovative slow-release organic fertiliser, for use in tropical agriculture and horticulture (sugarcane, avocado and macadamia).
- Cultivation and selection of Leptospermum in northern Australia. Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr Peter Brooks. Daintree Fresh Pty Ltd. 2018-2021. This project is optimising the cultivation and selection of Leptospermum species for production of manuka honey in northern Australia.
- Cloning of myrtle rust-free Leptospermum. Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr Peter Brooks. CRC for Honey Bee Products. 2018-2022. This project is developing micropropagation and synthetic seed techniques for Leptospermum species that are rich nectar sources for manuka honey.
- Evaluating the performance of indigenous plant species in floating wetland treatment systems. Associate Professor Terry Lucke, Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr Chris Walker, Ms Yolanda Burt. Sunshine Coast Council. 2016-2019. The growth and nutrient removal capacity of six indigenous plant species are being assessed in newly-developed floating wetland systems.
- Propagation of Pomaderris clivicola and Bertya pedicellata. Professor Stephen Trueman. North Burnett Regional Council. 2013-2015. These threatened species were impacted by road remediation work. The project developed tissue culture and cuttings methods for plant propagation, and delivered plants to an environmental offset planting.
- Conservation genetics and propagation of Philotheca sporadica. Associate Professor Alison Shapcott, Professor Stephen Trueman. QGC Ltd. 2011-2013. This threatened species was impacted by construction of major pipelines for transport of coal seam gas. The project team developed successful methods for Philotheca propagation, and verified that translocated plants in offset plantings are genetically representative of the impacted populations.
- Smart Forests Alliance Queensland. Professor Helen Wallace, Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr David Walton, Associate Professor Peter Waterman, Professor Christian Jones, Associate Professor David Lee and collaborators from CSIRO, DAF Queensland, DPIF Northern Territory, Elders Forestry and Forest Enterprises Australia. Smart State Innovation Fund – National and International Research Alliances Program. 2009-2012. The Smart Forests Alliance was a Queensland Government initiative to accelerate production of fast-growing hardwood trees for forest plantations and carbon sequestration. The main focuses were high-value species of Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Khaya.
- Characterising wood properties for deployment of elite subtropical and tropical hardwoods. Professor Stephen Trueman, Professor Helen Wallace, Associate Professor David Lee and collaborators from CSIRO, DAF Queensland, Elders Forestry, Forestry Plantations Queensland and Forest Enterprises Australia. Plantation Hardwoods Research Fund. 2009-2012. This project characterised the timber quality of Eucalyptus and Corymbia species in plantation trials, and developed propagation methods to release the best tree varieties to the plantation industry.
- Designing food and habitat trees for urban koalas. Professor Stephen Trueman, Professor Helen Wallace, Associate Professor David Lee. Moreton Bay Regional Council and the University of the Sunshine Coast. 2007-2009. Koala populations in urban areas are under threat because of land clearing for development. Many eucalypt species are used by koalas for food, but most species are not favoured for urban plantings because of their large size. This project developed smaller eucalypts that provide food and shelter for koalas but are also suitable for urban plantings.
- Potential of Corymbia torelliana hybrids for hardwood forestry, and investigation of their seed dispersal by Trigona bees. Dr Rhonda Stokoe, Professor Helen Wallace, Associate Professor David Lee, Professor Stephen Trueman. Australian Research Council. 2002-2005. One of the most exciting discoveries for subtropical forestry has been the hybrid between Corymbia torelliana and spotted gums (e.g. C. citriodora), which possesses disease tolerance, fast growth and excellent timber. However, C. torelliana is regarded as a weed, dispersed by bees. The project team found that its hybrids are rarely dispersed by bees.
- Wollemi pine commercialisation. Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr Judy King, Dr Geoff Pegg, Dr Tim Smith. Forestry Plantations Queensland. 2001-2005. The Wollemi pine made international headlines when it was discovered in a deep rainforest canyon in 1994. Less than 100 adult trees were alive in the wild. Project scientists developed tissue culture and cuttings methods to produce over one million plants for worldwide horticultural release.
- Exotic pine micropropagation and storage. Professor Stephen Trueman. Forestry Plantations Queensland. 2001-2005. Pine trees in tropical and subtropical Australia have been planted as cuttings, produced from hedged stock plants of elite clones. This project developed shoot culture, organogenesis, cool storage, somatic embryogenesis and cryopreservation methods to maintain juvenility of clones during and after clonal selection.