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Endophytes as biosensors

University of Newcastle

Grant:
  • PhD Scholarship
Date Funded:
  • 1 July, 2023
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Professor Simon Keely

Project Summary

Endogenous plant symbionts known as endophytes, will be characterised for their ability to transcriptionally respond to stressor challenges.

What is the issue for NSW?

NSW needs a new generation of scientists with expertise in microbial genomics and microbiology to expand the  capacity of NSW in this fast growing and important field of research. This project will train a candidate PhD student with world leaders in their fields to industry standard and utilise novel approaches to creating biosensors with immense commercialisation potential. For the first time, plant endophytes will be characterised at the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic level with the aim of utilising their biology for medical diagnostic, biosensor and even therapeutic purposes. Because endophytes can detect and respond to bacteria, fungi, toxins and pollutants, the results of this work can be utilised across a range of environmental and health applications.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This research aims to study endophytes at the genome level to allow the development of better techniques to culture these microbes in the lab. The cultured endophyes will then be examined for their ability to activate gene responses to threats such as infection, toxins and pollutants. The identified gene responses will be used to transform simple lab bacterial strains into biosensors with the aim of using endophyte responses for diagnostic and detection purposes.