Associate Professor Stephen Trueman

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Associate Professor Stephen Trueman


Teaching areas

  • Plant Growth and Reproduction
  • Cell Biology
  • Coordinator, Special Research Projects

Research areas

  • plant reproductive biology
  • plant propagation
  • plant tissue culture


Associate Professor Stephen Trueman has extensive experience in plant reproductive biology and propagation, specializing in trees used for horticulture, forestry, pharmaceuticals or revegetation. He has previously held positions 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, leptospermum, eucalypt, mahogany, exotic pine and Wollemi pine cultivation and has attracted more than $18 million in research funding.

He studies the interactions between pollination, nutrition and hormones in plant processes such as fruit development and adventitious root formation. He employs tissue culture, synthetic seed and cuttings propagation systems to multiply and store valuable plant varieties.

Other projects are focusing on cultivation of valuable trees for pharmaceutical production, urban fauna, stormwater treatment, and mining and roadside revegetation.

Selected research projects

·         Increasing yield and  quality in tropical horticulture with better pollination, fruit retention and nutrient distribution. Associate 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. Horticulture Innovation Australia. 2017-2022. This project aims to increase farm gate profitability by increasing yield and quality through better understanding of crop nutrition during crop pollination and the effects of cross-pollination on fruit quality.

·         Cloning of myrtle rust-free Leptospermum. Associate Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr Peter Brooks. CRC for Honey Bee Products. 2018-2022. The project is developing micropropagation and synthetic seed techniques for Leptospermum species that are rich sources for manuka honey.

·         Evaluating the performance of indigenous plant species in floating wetland treatment systems. Associate Professor Terry Lucke, Associate 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. Associate 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. Dr Alison Shapcott, Associate 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. Associate Professor Helen Wallace, Associate Professor Stephen Trueman, Dr David Walton, Associate Professor Peter Waterman, Dr Christian Jones, Associate Professor David Lee and collaborators from CSIRO, DAFF 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. Associate Professor Stephen Trueman, Associate Professor Helen Wallace, Associate Professor David Lee and collaborators from CSIRO, DAFF 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. Associate Professor Stephen Trueman, Associate 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, Associate Professor Helen Wallace, Associate Professor David Lee, Associate 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. Associate 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. Associate 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.


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