Doctor Paul Milham

Paul MilhamDoctor Paul Milham uses strong research skills in chemistry to investigate key soil processes that underpin interactions between plants, and the environment. His research on soil phosphorus and on the toxic heavy metal cadmium is internationally recognised.  The breadth of his contributions to knowledge is evident in 80 peer reviewed publications with an h-index of 25.  He has also presented at numerous national and international conferences.

Other activities include:

  • Assists four young scientists to publish their research– two current PhD candidates (Zhejiang and Tehran Universities) and two previous PhD candidates (one resident in Queensland and the other in Sri Lanka)
  • Supports academic and professional associations including: Soil Science Australia, The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), the Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council (ASPAC), and the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), and its sister organisation in New Zealand.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the CS Piper Prize of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (2008) and the FG Swain Award (UWS) for research on soil cadmium.
  • Fellow of the RACI in recognition of contributions to the field of environmental chemistry.
  • Peer reviews for more than 20 scientific journals.
  • Adjunct associate with several Australian Universities, the most long-standing being WSU.
  • Laboratory proficiency assessor for the National Association of Testing Authorities and for its sister organisation in New Zealand.
  • Past member of the boards of Soil Science Australia and of ASPAC, and of the NSW representative on the National Cadmium Management Committee.

Current projects

Low levels of cadmium in food degrade the health of millions worldwide and may affect more than 10% of Australian children.  Most of this dietary cadmium comes from plant foods and ultimately from the bioavailable fraction of soil cadmium.  To learn how to decouple the link between bioavailable soil cadmium and its uptake by plants, Dr Milham uses partitioning, isotopic and synchrotron approaches.  He is currently studying the effects of chloride ion on the partitioning of bioavailable soil cadmium into solution, potentially leading to a new, selective assay for bioavailable cadmium and to prediction of the interplay of cadmium uptake by plants and climate change.
Plants require adequate phosphorus to grow and respond to increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.  Large tracts of forest currently experience marginal supplies of phosphorus which has implications for the global sequestration of carbon and for future climate.  Doctor Milham probes these processes uses a variety of tools to better understand phosphorus bioavailability and mobility to the aquatic environment where it is a contaminant.

Selected Journal Articles

Dehigaspitiya P, Milham P, Martin A, Ash G, Gamage D, Holford P, Seneweera S, (2022) 'Site-specific, genotypic and temporal variation in photosynthesis and its related biochemistry in wheat (Triticum aestivum)', Functional Plant Biology, vol.49, no.2, pp 115-131

Kamaral C, Neate SM, Gunasinghe N, Milham PJ, Paterson DJ, Kopittke PM, Seneweera S, (2022) 'Genetic biofortification of wheat with zinc: Opportunities to fine-tune zinc uptake, transport and grain loading', Physiologia Plantarum, vol.174, no.1, e13612

Khan S, Milham PJ, Eltohamy KM, Hamid Y, Li F, Jin J, He M, Liang X, (2022) 'Pteris vittata plantation decrease colloidal phosphorus contents by reducing degree of phosphorus saturation in manure amended soils', Journal of Environmental Management, vol.30415, Article no.114214

Khan S, Milham PJ, Eltohamy KM, Jin YB, Wang ZW, Liang XQ, (2022) 'Phytate exudation by the roots of Pteris vittata can dissolve colloidal FePO4', Environmental Science and Pollution Research, vol.29, pp 13142-13153

Amami R, Ibrahimi K, Sher F, Milham P, Ghazouani H, Chehaibi S, Hussain Z, Iqbal HMN, (2021) 'Impacts of different tillage practices on soil water infiltration for sustainable agriculture', Sustainability (Switzerland), vol.13, no.6, Article no.3155

Minh TT, Minh TTT, Trong TD, Thuy HP, Nguyen BT, Milham PJ, (2020) 'Boron deficiency may be widespread in Brassica oleracea var. capitata L. in Lao Cai Province, North Western Vietnam', Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, vol.51, no.21, pp 2726-2734

Andersson KO, Tighe MK, Guppy CN, Milham PJ, McLaren TI, Schefe CR, Lombi E, Lisle LM, Klysubun W, (2019) 'Transformation of Calcium Phosphates in Alkaline Vertisols by Acidified Incubation', Environmental Science & Technology, vol.53, no.17, pp 10131-10138

Dehigaspitiya P, Milham P, Ash GJ, Arun-Chinnappa K, Gamage D, Martin A, Nagasaka S, Seneweera S, (2019) 'Exploring natural variation of photosynthesis in a site-specific manner: evolution, progress, and prospects', Planta, vol.250, no.4, pp 1033-1050

Duan H, Ontedhu J, Milham P, Lewis JD, Tissue DT, (2019) 'Effects of elevated carbon dioxide and elevated temperature on morphological, physiological and anatomical responses of Eucalyptus tereticornis along a soil phosphorus gradient', Tree physiology, vol.39, no.11, pp 1821-1837

Morrow JL, Sa PT, Beattie GAC, Milham PJ, Riegler M, Spooner-Hart RN, Holford P, (2019) 'Additions of sugar and nitrogenous fertiliser affect plant nitrogen status and soil microbial communities', Applied Soil Ecology, vol.139, pp 47-55

Khanboluki G, Hosseini HM, Holford P, Zadeh BM, Milham PJ, (2018) 'Effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on growth and physiology of wheat and sorghum under cadmium stress', Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, vol.49, no.22, pp 2867-2882

Milham PJ, Wenzel RG, Holford P, Haigh AM, Chaffer K, Hawkins CA, Humphris C, Fabien J, Conroy JP, (2018) 'Equilibrating stable Cd isotopes with acidic soils', Communications in soil science and plant analysis, vol.49, no.20, pp 2497-2506

Parks SE, Milham PJ, (2017) 'The value of on-farm rapid tests for measuring nitrate in leafy vegetables and in hydroponic solutions', Acta Horticulturae, vol.1176, pp 73-78

Andersson KO, Tighe MK, Guppy CN, Milham PJ, McLaren TI, Schefe C, Lombi E, (2016) ' XANES demonstrates the release of calcium phosphates from alkaline Vertisols to moderately acidified solution',  Environmental Science and Technology, vol.50, pp 4229-4237

Jinadasa N, Collins D, Holford P, Milham PJ, Conroy JP, (2016)  'Reactions to cadmium stress in a cadmium tolerant variety of cabbage (Brassica oleracea L.): is cadmium tolerance a desirable trait in food crops?',  Environmental Science and Pollution Research, vol.23, no.6, 5296-5306

Nagai Y, Matsumoto K, Kakinuma Y, Ujiie K, Ishimaru K, Gamage DM, Thompson M, Milham PJ, Seneweera S, Hirotsu N, (2016) 'The chromosome regions for increasing early growth in rice: role of sucrose biosynthesis and NH4 (+) uptake', Euphytica, vol.211, no.3, pp 343-352

Nakandalage N, Nicolas M, Nicolas M, Hirotsu N, Milham PJ,  Seneweera S, (2016)  'Improving rice biofortification success rates through genetic and crop management approaches in a changing environment', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol.7, Article no.764, pp 1-13

Andersson K, Tighe M, Guppy C, Milham P, McLaren T, (2015) 'Incremental acidification reveals phosphorus release dynamics in alkaline vertic soils', Geoderma, vol.259-260, pp 35–44

Chehine C, Holford P, Ghannoum O, Collins D, Conroy JP, Milham PJ, (2014) 'Transpiration influences cadmium uptake by baby leaf Spinach (Spinacia Oleracea L.)', American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Science, vol.9, no.4, pp 523-533

Paltridge NG, Palmer LJ, Milham PJ, Stangoulis JCR, (2012)  'Energy-Dispersive X-ray fluorescence analysis of zinc and iron concentration in rice and pearl millet grain',  Plant and Soil, vol.361, pp 251–260

Parks SE, Irving DE, Milham PJ, (2012)  'A critical evaluation of on-farm rapid tests for measuring nitrate in leafy vegetables',  Scientia Horticulturae, vol.134, pp. 1-6