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The challenge

Supporting industry to reduce impacts on Australia’s terrestrial fauna

Industrial and agricultural development is altering the global environment, leading to habitat loss and increased numbers of invasive species. Australia’s terrestrial fauna is not well understood compared to the rest of the world, making it hard to predict how our species and communities will respond to increasing environmental stress, including industrial contaminants and pesticides.

The rate of development in Australian industry will continue to grow into the future. Our challenge is to find ways to more rapidly assess the environmental impacts of this development, and to develop technologies to minimise these impacts while allowing our industries to remain globally competitive.

Our response

New technologies to enhance the environmental performance of industry

In partnership with academia, we are working with industry to develop new genomics-based technologies to more rapidly understand and assess the environmental impacts of agricultural and industrial processes on Australia’s terrestrial fauna.

In addition, we are using genomics technologies to develop more environmentally-friendly approaches to control pests and protect species potentially under threat.

Our research outputs have been adopted by the global research community, as well as providing solutions for industry:

  • Novel bioinformatics methods and tools:
    • for the assembly and annotation of genome sequences (eg. the cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera), and now being used by the i5K insect genome consortium
    • for the phylogenetic analysis of genome-wide sequence data, which has been adopted by the 1KITE insect transcriptome consortium
    • for rapid and accurate community-wide biodiversity assessments using metagenomics
  • Resistance genes to insecticides identified in three pest genomes, now the basis for insecticide management strategies in cotton, grains, and horticulture
  • Invasion pathways of three global pests identified using genome-wide markers, providing essential information for managing current invasions and preventing future ones
  • An improved understanding of the evolution of chemical detoxification mechanisms in terrestrial invertebrate genomes, which allows us to better predict how well they can cope with environmental contaminants.

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