Deborah Hailstones

Research interests

  • Molecular detection and differentiation of plant pests and pathogens and characterisation of plant germplasm
  • Evaluation and development of novel platforms to identify and deliver improved technologies to detect and differentiate closely related pests and pathogens of horticultural industries
  • Molecular basis of plant/pathogen interactions.


Deborah Hailstones has over 20 years experience as a molecular biologist, joining NSW DPI late in 1997 after ten years in medical research. She leads a range of research and diagnostic projects providing protection and biosecurity for the horticultural industries of NSW through the design and implementation of molecular technologies. The group includes core laboratory staff and Honours and postgraduate students, and runs workshops to transfer testing technologies to other stakeholders. 
Recent activities include the development of three national diagnostic standards, a leading role in the diagnostic response and follow-up research for the citrus canker incursion of 2004/5 and the adaptation of methods to discriminate strains of Queensland fruit fly.

In March 2007 Deb was selected as Research Leader for the Production Horticulture Unit. The Unit’s objective is to develop improved technology and management techniques for the horticulture industry and to overcome barriers to market access. The Unit links to others in NSW DPI to provide integrated and multidisciplinary programs that are outcome focussed.


  • B.Sc. (Hons I) – University of New South Wales, 1986
  • PhD (Molecular Biology)  – University of Sydney 1994

Current projects

  • Platforms to differentiate exotic pathovars of plant bacteria
  • DNA genotyping of Queensland fruit flies
  • Development of national diagnostic standard for citrus greening (huanglongbing)

Recent publications

Noble D, Cother E, Hailstones D, Flack M, Oxspring E and Hall B (2006) “Characterisation of Pseudomonas syringae pv porii from leeks and onions” European Journal of Plant Pathology 115 :419 - 430

Berg T, Tesoriero L and Hailstones DL (2006) A multiplex real-time PCR assay for detection of Xanthomonas campestris from brassicas. Letters in Applied Microbiology 42: 624-630.

Berg T, Tesoriero L and Hailstones DL (2005) PCR detection of Xanthomonas campestris in Brassica seed. Plant Pathology 54: 416-427.

Peters BJ, Ash GJ, Cother EJ, Hailstones DL, Noble DH and Urwin NAR (2004) “Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola in Australia: pathogenic, phenotypic and genetic diversity.” Plant Pathology 53 : 73-79

Zhou CY, Hailstones DL, Broadbent P, Connor R and Bowyer J (2003) “Studies on mild strain cross protection against stem-pitting tristeza virus.” Procedings of the International Organisation of Citrus Virologists. (2002) Proceedings of the 15th conference of the international organisation of citrus virologists pg.151-157

Zhou CY, Broadbent P, Hailstones D, Bowyer J and Connor R (2003) “Movement and titre of Citrus tristeza virus (pre-immunising isolate PB61) within seedlings and field trees.” Procedings of the International Organisation of Citrus Virologists. pg 39-47

Hailstones DL, Tesoriero LA, Terras MA and Dephoff C (2003) “Detection and eradication of Potato spindle tuber viroid in tomatoes in commercial production in New South Wales, Australia.”  Australasian Plant Pathology 32 : 317-318

Davis RI, Hailstones DL, Jacobson SJ, Gunua TG, Rahamma S and Barkley P (2000) “Surveillance for citrus canker disease in New Guinea and north Queensland.” Australasian Plant Pathology 20:224.

Hailstones DL, Bryant KL, Broadbent P and Zhou CY (2000) “Detection of Citrus tatter leaf virus using RT-PCR”. Australasian Plant Pathology 20: 240-248.

Fields of research

  • 070603 Horticultural Crop Protection (Pests, Diseases and Weeds)

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Molecular biology
  • Horticulture
  • Plant/pathogen interactions