Professor RJ (Bob) Lawn

Professor of Tropical Crop Science

Professor RJ (Bob) Lawn

1995-present Foundation Professor of Tropical Crop Science, James Cook University

2004-present Honorary CSIRO Fellow, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

1995-2003 Chief Executive Officer, CRC for Sustainable Sugar Production

1993-94Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops & Pastures

1989-93Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops & Pastures

1984-89Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops & Pastures

1980-84Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops & Pastures

1979-80 Expert Advisor, Committee of Inquiry into Technological Change in Australia (The Myers Inquiry)

1973-79Research Scientist, CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops & Pastures

1971-73Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Agronomy & Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota

1968-71 Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Agriculture, The University of Queensland

BAgrSc (Qld) MAgrSc (Qld) PhD (Minn) DAgrSc (Qld) FTSE FSB FAIAST

Contact Details




Tropical Crop Science Unit

Biological Sciences DB023



+61 7 4781 5763


Research Interests

My main interests are the physiological and genetic basis of adaptation of crop plants to environmental factors such as photoperiod, temperature and drought, and the implications of these responses for crop management and varietal improvement. The main crops of interest are the tropical grain legumes (soybean, mungbean, cowpea) and sugarcane.

Recent and Current Projects Include

  • Diversity in the endemic / indigenous germplasm of the genus Vigna for traits that affect adaptation to climatic, edaphic or biotic environmental stresses

  • Tropical grain legume improvement, especially soybean (Glycine max) and mungbean (Vigna radiata)

  • Physiological constraints to sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) production in the wet tropics

Research Projects Recently or Currently Supervised

  • Amphicarpy in tropical legumes

  • Genotypic variation in endemic / indigenous Vigna species for traits of adaptive, agronomic or taxonomic significance

  • Physiology and genetics of drought tolerance in soybean (Glycine max)

  • Photoperiodism in wild mungbean (Vigna radiata ssp sublobata)

  • Comparative studies on cultivated Vigna vexillata accessions from Bali and wild accessions from Australia, Africa and Indonesia

  • The endemic Vigna lanceolata (Fabaceae) complex in Australia: biology, breeding, systematics and conservation

  • Strategies to maximise profitability of irrigated soybeans in southern NSW

  • Genotypic variation in soybean (Glycine max) and its wild relatives for variation in drought stress response strategies

  • Analysis of long-term block productivity data for sugarcane in the Tully Mill region of the wet tropics

  • Environmental and varietal factors predisposing to suckering in sugarcane in the wet topics

  • Constraints to high yield and CCS in large and lodged cane crops

  • Genotypic differences in grain legumes to and recovery from drought stress

"If you are interested in a postgraduate research training project in tropical crop science, please Email me with details about your research background and research interests."

Selected Publications

Lawn RJ, James AT (2011) Application of physiological understanding in soybean improvement. I. Understanding phenological constraints to adaptation and yield potential. Crop & Pasture Science, 2011, 62, 1-11.

James AT, Lawn RJ (2011) Application of physiological understanding in soybean improvement. II. Broadening phenological adaptation across regions and sowing dates.Crop & Pasture Science, 2011, 62, 12-24.

Damayanti F, Lawn RJ, Bielig LM (2010) Genotypic variation in domesticated and wild accessions of the tropical tuberous legume Vigna vexillata (L.) A. Rich. Crop & Pasture Science, 2010, 61, 771–784.

Damayanti F, Lawn RJ, Bielig LM (2010) Genetic compatibility among domesticated and wild accessions of the tropical tuberous legume Vigna vexillata (L.) A. Rich. Crop & Pasture Science, 2010, 61, 785–797.

Damayanti F, Lawn RJ, Bielig LM (2010) Expression of qualitative and quantitative traits in hybrids between domesticated and wild accessions of the tropical tuberous legume Vigna vexillata (L.) A. Rich. Crop & Pasture Science, 2010, 61, 798–811.

Lawn RJ (2010) Agriculture at the crossroad: challenges for crop improvement. In Agriculture at the Crossroad. (Ed. RS Natawidjaja). Proceedings of the International Conference Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Faculty of Agriculture, Padjadjaran University, Bandung, Indonesia, November 25-26, 2009

Likoswe AA, Lawn RJ, 2008. Response to terminal water deficit stress of cowpea, pigeonpea and soybean in pure stand and in competition. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 59, 27-37.

Lawn RJ, 2007. Keynote Address: A brief history of the establishment of the Australian soybean industry. In Proceedings of the 13 th Australian Soybean Conference. D. Grey (ed.). Riverina Soybean Growers Association: Barooga, NSW. Range Media Pty Ltd: Toowoomba, Australia. CD ROM 12 pp.

Lawn RJ, Rebetzke GJ (2006) Variation among Australian accessions of the wild mungbean (Vigna radiata ssp. sublobata) for traits of agronomic, adaptive or taxonomic interest. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 57, 119-132.

Lawes RA, Lawn RJ, 2004. Applications of industry information in sugar cane production systems. Field Crops Research (Special Issue) 92, 353-363.

Lawn RJ, Watkinson AR, 2002. Habitat, morphological diversity and distribution of the genus Vigna Savi in Australia. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 53, 1305-1316.

Lawn RJ, 2001. CRC Sugar: A new approach to research and development for an industry in transition.pp. 321-329.In Outlook 2001.Proceedings of the National Outlook Conference, Canberra, Volume 2, Agriculture and Regional Australia.ABARE: Canberra.

Lambrides CJ, Lawn RJ, Godwin ID, Manners J, Imrie BC, 2000. Two genetic linkage maps of mungbean using RFLP and RAPD markers. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 51, 415-425.

Lawn RJ, 1999. Soybean: the Unsuspected Paludophyte. pp. 579-81. In Plants in Action P Kriedemann, B Atwell, C Turnbull (eds). MacMillan Education Publishing: Australia.

Lawn RJ, 1996. Rapporteur’s Summary: Theme 3. pp. 317-318. In Downstream Effects of Land Use. HM Hunter, GE Rayment (eds). Department of Natural Resources: Brisbane, Queensland.

Lawn RJ, 1995. The Asiatic Vigna species. pp. 321-5. In Evolution of Crop Plants. J Smartt, NW Simmonds (eds). Longman: London.

Lawn RJ, 1994. C.T. White Memorial Lecture for 1993: The Australian Vigna Species - Beans, Bush-Tucker, Beach Cover. Queensland Naturalist 32, 92-100.

Lawn RJ, Imrie BC, 1994. Exploiting physiology in crop improvement: Matching Genotypes to the Environment. Crop Physiology Abstracts C.A.B. International 20, 467-476.

Lawn RJ, 1993. Keynote Address: Physiological limits to irrigated soybean yields in northern Australia. pp. 1-12. In Proceedings, Thailand National Soybean Research Conference IV. S Laohasiriwong (ed.) Khon Kaen University, Thailand.

Lawn RJ, Imrie BC, 1992. Mungbean, Black Gram and Adzuki Bean. pp. 92-102. In New Crops: Agronomy and Potential of Alternative Crop Species. RS Jessop, RL Wright (eds). INKATA Press, Melbourne.

Lawn RJ, Imrie BC, 1991. The mungbean industry in Australia. pp. 3-13. In Mungbean: the Australian Experience. Proceedings of the First Australian Mungbean Workshop. BC Imrie, RJ Lawn (eds). CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures: Brisbane.

Lawn RJ, Imrie BC, 1991. Crop improvement for tropical Australia: Designing plants for difficult climates. Field Crops Research 26, 113-139.

Lawn RJ, Troedson RJ, 1990. Chapter 8: Physiology of Yield Formation. pp. 179-203. In The Pigeonpea. YL Nene, SD Hall, VK Sheila (eds). CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

Lawn RJ, 1989. Agronomic and physiological constraints to productivity of tropical grain legumes and opportunities for improvement. Experimental Agriculture 25, 509-528.

Lawn RJ, Byth DE, 1989. Saturated soil culturea technology to expand the adaptation of soybean. pp. 576-585. In Proceedings, World Soybean Research Conference IV. AJ Pascale (ed.). Asociacion Argentine de la Soja: Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Lawn RJ, Cottrell A, 1988. Wild mungbean and its relatives in Australia. The Biologist 35, 267273.

Lawn RJ, 1988. Interpretive Summary Part 4: Breeding for improved plant performance in droughtprone environments. pp. 213-219. In Drought Research Priorities for the Dryland Tropics. FR Bidinger, CR Johansen (eds). International Centre for Crops Research in the Semiarid Tropics: Hyderabad, India.

Summerfield RJ, Lawn RJ, 1987. Tropical grain legume crops: a commentary. Outlook on Agriculture 16, 189198.

Lawn RJ, Williams JH, 1987. Limits imposed by climatological factors. pp. 8398. In Food Legume Improvement for Asian Farming Systems. ES Wallis, DE Byth (eds). ACIAR Proceedings No. 18. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research: Canberra.

Lawn RJ, 1986. This Week's Citation Classic. Current Contents 17(2), 16.

Lawn RJ, Mayers JD, Beech DF, Garside AL, Byth DE, 1985. Adaptation of soybean to tropical and subtropical environments in Australia. pp. 361372. In Soybean in Tropical and Subtropical Cropping Systems. S. Shanmugasundaram, EW Sulzberger (eds). Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center: Taiwan.

Lawn RJ, Ahn CS, 1985. Mungbean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek/Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper). pp. 584623. In Grain Legume Crops. RJ Summerfield, EH Roberts (eds). Collins: London.

Lawn RJ, 1985. Eastern subtropics and tropics. pp. 147171. In The Northern Challenge: A history of CSIRO crop research in Northern Australia. JJ Basinski, IM Wood, JB Hacker (eds). CSIRO: Australia.

Lawn RJ, 1981. Potential contribution of physiological research to pigeonpea improvement. pp. 151164. In Proceedings, International Workshop on Pigeonpea, Volume 1. International Centre for Crops Research in the Semiarid Tropics: Hyderabad, India.

Lawn RJ, Byth DE, 1979. Soybeans. pp. 198231. In Australian Field Crops II. A Lazenby, J Lovett (eds). Angus and Robertson: Sydney.

Complete Bibliography