Higher Degree by Research Application Portal

TitleA novel biotechnological approach to protect crops from insect pests
SupervisorProf Jacqueline Batley
Research areaBiological Sciences
Project description

New approaches are required to control insect pests which cause enormous global crop losses. Phytophagous insects are incapable of synthesizing cholesterol. Cholesterol is a precursor of the molting hormone. Insects rely on converting host phytosterols to cholesterol. There are stringent structural demands on phytosterols used as substrates, therefore some phytosterols cannot be utilized by insects. This important pest-host interaction provides a unique platform from which to explore the opportunity for a new insect pest control strategy. The project aims to develop a novel technology which is achieved by modifying plants to produce non-utilizable sterols.  The plants with modified sterols will unable to support insect growth & reproduction but will nevertheless function normally in plants. The specific aims are to modify canola plant sterols by overexpression/knock-out (using Crispr technology) of novel sterol biosynthetic genes, by screening mutagenized canola populations for novel sterols, or by exploiting natural variation in sterols already present in canola and introgressing non-utilizable sterols from other Brassicaceae species.

Opportunity statusOpen
Open date01 Jan 2024
Close date31 Dec 2025
Funding source

Australian Research Council and Grain Research Development Corporation


Prof Jacqueline Batley -  email  research profile

Specific project requirement

Molecular biology, genomics and genetic transformation skills.

Additional information

Research students at all levels (Honours, Masters and Doctoral) are sought to work on this project.

Please email Prof Jacqueline Batley in the first instance, with the following documents:

  • a cover letter outlining your suitability for the position; and
  • a copy of your academic transcript; and
  • a resume that includes your contact details and two referees.
Course typeDoctorates