Karen Kirkby

Research interests

  • Interactions between pathogens and cotton
  • Fungal endophyte associations


Karen is the NSW cotton pathologist based at Australian Cotton Research Institute in Narrabri. Karen has 2 full time staff as well as working in collaboration with molecular specialists at EMAI. Karen is currently investigating several diseases of cotton and in particular Verticillium wilt.

Karen has published multiple articles in Journals including Weed Research, Seed Science and Technology and Crop and Pasture Science.

Karen’s interests include clay target shooting, horse training and eating chocolate.

Recent projects

Diseases of Cotton X (2 years), Diseases of Cotton XI (4 years)

  • Kirkby, K. A. (2012). Diseases of Cotton X. Paper presented at the CRC Science Forum Putting the pieces together, Narrabri.
  • Kirkby, K. A, Allen, S, & Lonergan, P. (2012). An Update on Verticillium Wilt in Australia . Paper presented at the Beltwide Cotton Conference, Orlando, USA.
  • Kirkby, K, & Anderson, C. (2013). Progression of Fusarium Wilt in Plants. Primefact.
  • Kirkby, K, & Anderson, C. (2013). Vascular wilt disease findings. Primefact.
  • Kirkby, K. A, Allen, S. J, & Lonergan, P. A. (2013). Three decades of cotton disease surveys in NSW, Australia. Crop and Pasture Science, 64 (8), 774-779.
  • Kirkby, K, Lonergan, P, Cooper, B, Roser, S, Smith, L, Scheikowski, L, Bauer, B, Lehane, J, Allen, S. (2013). Cotton Pathology 2012-13. Cotton Pest Management Guide 2013-14, 126-130.
  • Smith, L. J, Scheikowski, L. J, Bauer, B, Lehane, J, Kirkby, K. A, Lonergan, P. A, Cooper, B. R, Roser, S. E, Allen, S, J. (2014). Cotton Pathology 2014-15 Cotton Pest Management Guide 2014-15 (pp. 122-126).


  • A.D Aquatic Resource Management – 1992 University of Central Queensland
  • B. Technology (Aquatic Resource Management) - 2001 Central Queensland University
  • Graduate Certificate in Rural Science (Cotton Production) – 2007 University of New England
  • PhD  – 2011 Charles Sturt University

Current projects

  • Developing a molecular tool to diagnose and quantify the levels of Verticillium dahliae inoculum in cotton soils
  • Evaluation of novel treatments for disease control
  • Investigating potential interactions between pathogens of cotton

Recent publications

Kirkby KA, Pratley JE, Hume DE, Faville MJ, An M and Wu H (2011) Incidence of Endophyte Neotyphodium occultans in Lolium rigidum from Australia. Weeds Research 51.

Kirkby KA, Pratley JE, Hume DE, An M and Wu H (2011) Viability of seed and endophyte (Neotyphodium occultans) in annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) in long term storage and burial. Seed Science and Technology, 39.

Kirkby KA, Hume DE, Pratley JE and Broster J (2010) Effect of temperature on endophyte and plant growth of annual ryegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. Published in 17th Australasian Weeds Conference, Christchurch, 56-59.

Kirkby K, Pratley J, Hume D, McCully M, Seal A and An M (2008) Incidence of the endophyte Neotyphodium occultans in annual ryegrass in southern New South Wales. Published in Proceedings of the 16th Australian Weeds Conference, Cairns, 117-119.

Professional associations and activities

  • Fusarium Wilt Extension and Research Coordinating Committee (FUSCOM)
  • Australasian Plant Pathology Society Inc.
  • Council of Australasian Weeds Societies Inc.
  • EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation


Karen is a member of the Australian Cotton Research Institute's Plant Pathology Team, which is certified under ISO 9001:2008 by BSI under certificate number FS 603588 (PDF, 921.76 KB)

BSI certification

Fields of research

  • 070302 Agronomy
  • 070308 Crop and Pasture Protection (Pests, Diseases and Weeds)

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Pathology
  • Mycology

Contact details

Phone: (02) 6799 2454
Location:  Australian Cotton Research Institute