Natural product screening

Finding new ways to protect crop plants from insect damage is vital for the world's food production by optimising the productivity of the world's limited arable land. Current anti-insect technologies have been in the market for more than 10 years and resistance to these traits is beginning to develop, creating a need for new technologies.

Our lab uses high-throughput robot-assisted screening for insecticidal activity to hunt for new insecticidal proteins in plant extracts. By expressing these proteins in transgenic plants, we aim to commercialise their use for crop protection in collaboration with DuPont Pioneer. This research program combines the experience of Pioneer researchers in characterizing novel insect actives and trait development with our lab's expertise in biochemistry and insect biology. In parallel with this, we are also generating an extensive library of Australian native plant extracts which can be screened for other novel molecules including molecules with antifungal activities.