Meet Dr Marco Duretto

Name: Dr Marco Duretto

Role: Manager Plant Diversity 

What do you work on? Systematics and taxonomy of Australasian Rutaceae (the orange and lemon family) especially of the genus Boronia 

Favourite plant: Coffea arabica first thing in the morning.

Tell us about your garden: My garden is small, simple and centred on creating a relaxed space to live in with interesting things to look at. I grow things I can bring into the house and cook with such as bay, citrus and curry leaf. The back/pool area has a cool area with ferns, cycads, orchids, big flowered plants with a strong Sydney sandstone element, and a sunnier end with a Lord Howe Island Palm, bamboo and water plants in pots. Scattered everywhere are pots, containing bulbs, Sydney natives, conifers, daisies etc; but not a single Boronia. Things in my garden need to be tough – I realised a long time ago I am not a great gardener but do like having a diverse range of lovely and interesting things to look at and eat.

Favourite place: Hinchinbrook Island, N Qld: pink granite mountains right on the coast, coral, rainforest, mangroves, isolated beaches, an endemic Boronia named for my partner and fossil crabs. A truly magical place.

If I wasn’t a scientist I would be an: Architect. It wasn’t a hard choice at high school to go to University and study Biology, and that was Marine Biology, but Architecture, and a love of a well-designed space, is there as well.

Career highlight: A recent discovery gained through molecular biology and working closely with my colleague Margaret Heslewood, that Boronia is in fact two genera: that has made me rethink how I look at the genus I have worked on for so long and how I will approach new projects in the future.

Something I discovered or am proud of:Zieria inexpectata – a rare species that was newly discovered when a colleague and I were looking at another undescribed species, a Boronia, in the field in SE Qld. The exciting thing was that I knew it was an undescribed species when I saw it. This discovery led us to revise the genus for Queensland and it was one of 16 species we described. Though new species are discovered regularly what is rare is that you recognise it for what it is in the field when you first see it. Most new species are discovered while doing research later in the Herbarium and from specimens being sent to you by someone else. That day we discovered two new species, the other was an Acacia, identified later by an expert.

Hidden talent or hobby: I love food so cooking is a passion and being with people who appreciate good food is wonderful. At the moment there is a strong Spanish influence in the house with the big complex flavours and slow cooking. The best thing about winter.