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Overview

We are working towards a sustainable future by analysing genomes of Australian plants and animals and improving agricultural and industrial processes.

We are looking into real-world problems associated with food security, energy, health and the environment.

Our staff

Real graduate

"I’m a senior entomologist with the Department of Agriculture. The department protects the environment and animal, plant and human health from the risk of exotic pests and diseases.

I enjoy the interesting and challenging work, with a good mix of field, laboratory and office work. There’s always something new to learn in entomology and one of the most important things QUT taught me is critical thinking, and how to find and review information. It helped me get where I am today."

Tony Robinson

Bachelor of Science (Biological Sciences)

Research

Our research is about finding solutions to these problems through:

  • animal and plant physiology
  • biofuels
  • drug discovery and development
  • evolutionary biology
  • genetics and genomics
  • plant biotechnology.

We have significant research capabilities in three major areas:

View our student topics

Crop protection and biosecurity

Advance measures to protect Australian crops from pests through alternative control measures and research into pest biology.

Evolutionary biology

Research the origins of Australia's unique animals and plants and apply genomic methods to non-model organisms.

Applied ecology

Protect Australia's delicate ecosystems from human pressures and develop new methods in monitoring environmental diversity.

Projects

The evolution of generalism: why so many polyphagous fruit flies

Project Leader

Professor Anthony Clarke

Dates

2018-2020

Project summary

This project aims to understand why flies that cause maggoty fruit have so frequently evolved the generalist feeding habitat, and to test specific hypotheses to explain the high frequency of generalism in Bactrocera.

Outcomes will significantly advance understanding of the evolution of generalism, and so greatly advance herbivory theory. As Bactrocera are also globally significant horticultural pests, the project will provide under-pinning science for pest management.

Geomolecular dating with biologically relaxed clocks, and mammal evolution

Project Leader

Dr Matthew Phillips

Dates

2015-2017

Project summary

This project aims to use DNA, fossils and biological cues to synergistically model evolutionary rate changes. Molecular dates allow direct comparison of evolutionary and ecological patterns and processes across the tree of life. However, current models struggle to identify the location and magnitude of molecular clock rate changes on phylogenies, often resulting in wildly inaccurate dates.

Expected outcomes include improved dating accuracy, and a novel statistical framework for morphological data, which allows fossils to be more accurately merged into the tree of life. In turn, the project aims to resolve intense debate on the origins of marsupial and placental mammals, and to trace the responses of these two groups to past environmental changes.

Generic delimitations in Rottboelliinae (Andropogoneae, Panicoideae, Poaceae) based on molecular and morphological data

Project Leader

Dr Tanya Scharaschkin

Dates

2014-2017

Project summary

This project will provide a reliable framework for classifying a group of widespread but understudied grasses, including some rare and threaten species. The number of genera and species in the subtribe Rottboelliinae is uncertain. Analysis of DNA sequences from multiple regions will inform the taxonomic revision of ~11 genera and 98 species. Diagnostically important characters will be identified for the creation of reliable identification keys.

This research will train a new agrostologist and enhance our understanding of the biodiversity of mesic to savannah grasslands. It will provide clarity to decision-making processes regarding conservation and management of rare and threaten species.

Understanding equine incretins: a novel approach to laminitis prevention

Project Leader

Dr Melody de Laat

Dates

2014-2016

Project summary

Laminitis is a crippling foot disease in horses which incurs significant economic and social costs. Recent studies have shown that persistently high insulin concentrations can trigger laminitis, and that high insulin levels are caused by the excessive release of hormones called incretins.

This project aims to determine the role of incretins and their receptors in causing abnormal equine insulin secretion. The distribution of equine incretin receptors will be described for the first time, and the consequences of incretin receptor binding will be characterised. Understanding equine incretin biology may lead to novel therapies for laminitis.

Gastrointestinal hormones: linking insulin dysregulation and laminitis

Interdisciplinary/inter-institution project
Project Leader
Dates

2018-2020

Project summary

This project aims to identify the earliest pathogenic factors of disease by investigating two key hormones, ghrelin and GLP-2, and whether a specific genetic mutation underlies insulin dysregulation.

Using innovative approaches the project will enable the identification of at-risk animals and pinpoint novel treatment strategies. In the long term improved disease treatment and prevention will reduce the suffering associated with painful and often lethal co-morbidities.

View our student topics

Our topics

Are you looking to study at a higher or more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research topics at a variety of study levels, including PhD, Masters, Honours or the Vacation Research Experience Scheme (VRES).
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Our experts

We host an expert team of researchers and teaching staff, including Head of School and discipline leaders. Our discipline brings together a diverse team of experts who deliver world-class education and achieve breakthroughs in research.

Meet our experts

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