La Trobe delivers expertise in protected cropping research

A world-leading research and training institute delivering innovative solutions for sustainable and nutritious food production in a resource and climate-constrained world

The vision of the La Trobe Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and Food (LISAF) is to use a holistic approach to deliver innovative solutions for sustainable and nutritious food production in a resource and climate-constrained world, fostering outcome-focused research and education through its interdisciplinary research domains.

  1. Farming systems – soils & agronomy,
  2. Protected cropping – medicinal agriculture & horticulture,
  3. Fit-for-purpose seeds,
  4. Food nutrition & health, and
  5. Food business & food security

Underpinning Domain 2, the Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (MedAg Hub) is a $24+ million initiative, supported by the Australian Research Council, industry and research organisations, aimed at transforming the production of high quality, plant derived therapeutics in a protected environment.

In addition, the 'Next Generation Protected Cropping in a regional manufacturing facility' (Next Gen) project is aimed at establishing a research and training program in protected cropping in commercial production facilities. This project is supported by state-of-the-art research facilities and utilises medicinal cannabis as an exemplar for protected cropping. This $10 m program is supported with $5 m from the Australian Government’s Department of Education Regional Research Collaboration Program.

What are the capabilities and expertise of the institute?

LISAF capabilities (infrastructure and expertise) include:

  • Transformation and gene editing of crop species
  • Extensive growth facilities (Glasshouses, CERs (PC2/QC2))
  • Mineral and chemical analyses of soil, plant and seeds
  • Laser Capture Microdissection
  • Bioinformatics platforms
  • Sequencing platform
  • Big Data integration and analysis
  • Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS)
  • Single cell ‘omics - RNAseq & metabolomics
  • Phenotyping/Phenomics (2D, 3D, hyperspectral, fluorescence, RGB, cloud-based analytics)
  • Omics capabilities:
    • Genomics & transcriptomics
    • Glycomics (mono-/oligo-/polysaccharides)
    • Metabolomics (untargeted/targeted; including volatiles)
    • Proteomics (amino acids/peptides/proteins)
  • Plant physiology
  • Breeding
  • Tissue culture
  • Plant nutrition and cultivation
  • Plant biotechnology
  • AI and Machine Learning, IoT, Big Data & analytics
  • Provenence

Our industry partnerships

Through this expertise coupled with our state-of-the-art research infrastructure, we have established strong partnerships with industry, including:

ARC Med Ag Hub (2019-2024)

Established in 2018, this research centre is a $24+ million initiative supported by the Australian government (Australian Research Council), industry and university funds. It comprises agricultural and biomedical researchers along with the following industry partner organisations: Bioplatforms Australia (BPA), Cann Group Limited, Hexima Ltd, Palo Alto Research Centre Inc (PARC), and Photon Systems Instruments (PSI). The aim of the MedAg Hub is to transform the production of high quality, plant-derived therapeutics into an integrated, Australia-wide industry that spans primary producers and manufacturers.

Regional Research Collaboration Program (2022-2027)

Funded by the Australian Department of Education for more than $5 m, the Next Generation Protected Cropping in a Regional Manufacturing Facility – a Medicinal Cannabis Exemplar (Next Gen.) aims to establish a state-of-the-art ‘protected cropping’ research and training centre that will innovate medicinal cannabis production and enhance other protected cropping industries. Industry partners include: Cann Group Limited, Photon Systems Instruments (PSI), SpexAI, PharmOut and SuniTafe to develop Cert 2 and other training courses in protected cropping.

BioPlatforms Australia

  • Plant Protein Atlas Initiative (2021-2022): Research collaboration to construct an Atlas for faba bean where all available information will be collected in a relational database so that it can be extracted for several end-uses.
  • Cutting Edge Mass Spectrometry (2022-2025): Research collaboration to establish a cellular resolution ‘omics facility within LISAF’s headquarters in the AgriBio Building, La Trobe University – Bundoora, that will provide the ability to analyse transcripts, proteins and metabolites with cellular resolution and a computational platform for the analyses and visualisation of these data.

PepsiCo (2019-2022)

  • $2.3 m research collaboration on oat grain development with the aim of increasing the nutritional quality of food products.

Join us in partnerships for protected cropping

La Trobe University is seeking partners for a new ARC ITRH Hub in Protected Cropping for Medicinal Agriculture and Horticulture.

Building upon our research expertise, as demonstrated in our Medicinal Agriculture Hub, we are expanding the scope into horticulture. This leverages our agriculture research expertise along with technology advances and data from the current Hub using the latest tools, AI and Big Data analytics.

For more information, connect with us via or on and LISAF at