New centres for native plant remedies, conservation
Thursday, 14 April 2016
Using Indigenous and ecological knowledge to find useful compounds from arid-zone plants, and finding technological solutions to major conservation issues, are the focus of two new research centres being launched together today at the University of Adelaide.
Jointly established by the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, the Australian Bioactive Compounds Centre will apply Aboriginal knowledge of outback plants and their traditional medicinal uses. This will complement the Centre’s existing ecological strengths to help find compounds with potential commercial application in medicine, veterinary science and agriculture.
Initial research will be focussed on identifying: compounds that inhibit insect attacks on plant crops; veterinary products that have antibiotic, anti-parasitic and anti-cancer properties; and topical human anti-melanoma treatment.
“The unique advantage of this Centre is that it combines expertise in arid zone plant biology and ecology with experience in screening for bioactive compounds (those affecting living tissues), along with capabilities in chemistry and understanding of existing gaps in the markets for new and novel compounds,” says Co-Director of the Centre, Professor Philip Weinstein from the University of Adelaide.
“We also have a commitment to formal agreements with the traditional owners of the land and local communities over collection permissions and intellectual property, and their active participation in the research,” says Co-Director Associate Professor Bob Milne, University of South Australia. “We hope to benefit from their understanding of plant cycles and local ecosystems as well as Indigenous knowledge of traditional uses of the plants.”
The Centre for Conservation Science and Technology, a Centre of the University of Adelaide, will focus on developing practical solutions that mitigate and manage the risks to the environment from human activity.
The Centre will combine research strengths in biodiversity and biosecurity monitoring, conservation and restoration, and identifying illegal trade in wildlife and other biological products. Four key aims will be improved biosecurity; habitat restoration; reducing wildlife crime; and enhancing the success of conservation projects throughout Australia and globally.
“The University of Adelaide has a great deal of research expertise using science and technology in the conservation of species and healthy ecosystems,” says Centre Director, Professor Andrew Lowe.
“The Centre will draw this expertise together and add value through shared knowledge, research capability and opportunities, and stronger partnerships with government, industry and other researcher organisations.
“Working together, we can better provide tools for improved conservation and natural resource management outcomes.”
The two centres are being launched during the NRM Science Conference, 13-15 April, in The Braggs lecture theatre.