Agricultural biotechnology

Plant nanobionics bridges chemistry and biology to create a strong interdisciplinary research culture, both locally and globally. Working in close collaboration with our industry partners, we explore the interactions of plants with pathogens. Why do some plants actively resist their attackers? How do some pathogens manipulate the resistance responses of plants?


As we research how different species behave and react, we explore the notion of controlling biotic and abiotic stress in plants using nanoparticles.

Currently, we use mesoporous silica nanoparticles to combat stress in plants – we’re one of the rare research groups who work on the delivery of plant biomolecules using nanoparticles.

Plants are arguably the most important biological entity on the planet. However, plants are always under threat by factors in their environment that will damage them, kill them or reduce their potential yield. Understanding how we can control and manipulate plant responses to their environment will assist preserve our agricultural and natural systems.

Professor David Cahill

Associate Dean – Research

Research priorities

As a dynamic group of researchers and higher degrees by research students, we work on the fundamental and applied aspects of plant responses to their environment.

Topics of interest include:

  • transcriptional profiling and the search for secondary metabolites in plants
  • nanoparticle mediated delivery of biomolecules to plants
  • siRNAs, microbial enzymes, and novel gene transfer technologies.

We also work closely with Deakin associates at the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures (CeRRF) including Professor John Hamill, Associate Professor Rob Faggian, Associate Professor Victor Sposito and Dr Giorgio De Guzman.

Featured staff

Professor David Cahill, Associate Dean – Research, has investigated seed-borne rice pathogens and enviro-friendly crop treatments through the award of multiple research grants. He specialises in the interactions of plants with micro-organisms, plant-disease resistance, plant productivity, nanoparticles in plant science, and the interactions of native plants with Phytophthora cinnamomi (root rot).

Contact us

Group Coordinator
Professor David Cahill
+61 3 5227 1299
Email Professor Cahill