Plant industries research

Plant Industries is committed to improving the profitability and sustainability of the agriculture, horticulture and forestry industries through research, development and extension. Plant Industries works collaboratively with Northern Territory (NT) farmers, industry groups, universities, research organisations, and other state and Commonwealth agencies across Australia and internationally.

Current research


The entomology team focuses their research on effective management systems for economic pests based on integrated pest management approaches using biological, chemical and cultural methods of control.

New fruit fly systems for mangoes and market access

An ongoing research project looking at various aspects of fruit fly mitigation from population ecology, suppression trials, cage trials and oviposition studies. The main aim is to investigate the host status of hard mature mangoes at commercial harvest.

Entomology: A fruit fly on a mango 

Mango leafhopper management

Studies on the population ecology of mango leafhopper under various conditions and studies on non-chemical methods of control, including insect pathogens and attractants.

Mango fruit borer

Research into the identity and biology of the mango fruit borer. This includes DNA studies of the species in NT and countries in Southeast Asia, and collaboration with an overseas laboratory to develop a bait based on the insects sex pheromone.

Termite management

Research on the management of the giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis) and other termites attacking horticultural and forest crops in NT.

NT Economic Insect Reference Collection (NTEIRC)

The entomology team manages and studies this important research collection which contains over 47,000 accessions of insects and mites from crops in the NT. The data from the collection form part of the national Australian plant pest database.

Plant pathology

This team identifies and characterises previously unreported plant pathogens, and researches how to manage pathogens and protect our important industries.

Plant pathology: A series of photos of rust from infections to spores under the microscope 

Banana Plant Protection Program

Working in collaboration with Queensland scientists, evaluating a range of banana varieties for resistance against Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 as well as the efficacy of disinfectants in killing the pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense spores. Develop a quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction assay to detect the fungus in soil, in collaboration with the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Assessing a number of alternative rotational crop options for bananas to suppress disease development.

Characterisation and management of fusarium wilt of watermelon

Research to characterise and understand fusarium wilt of watermelon This includes characterising the Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum race that is causing watermelon wilt in the NT; evaluations of root stocks and seedless watermelons to their susceptibility to fusarium infection, improved molecular diagnostics and the effect of temperature on affected watermelon plants.

Characterisation and identification of plant pathogens

Research to identify and characterise previously unreported pathogens.

Molecular diagnostics

This team utilises modern biotechnology and applies it to develop molecular diagnostic tools to assist in the rapid detection of plant pests of important economic crops.

Molecular diagnostics: A range of agar plates 

Improved management options for Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV)

Key research areas to determine the importance of weed, non-host plants and honey bees in CGMMV disease epidemiology; evaluate the potential for in-field diagnostics to assist in rapid detection of the virus on farms. This research will develop multilingual communication materials to assist cucurbit growers with management options, including on-farm biosecurity protocols. 

Investigating the molecular mechanisms behind flowering in Magnifera indica (mango)

This team supports a PhD research project to investigate the molecular mechanisms behind flowering in mangoes, what genes are triggered and what proteins are expressed at the optimal time and whether these conditions can be manipulated.

Crop diversification

This team research the agronomic practices of a range of crops and crop rotations to understand how to diversify a range of competitive crop production systems for the NT. Research includes understand the crop production, agronomy and economics of improved pastures, rice, peanuts, lucerne, maize and horticultural crops for sustainable production.

Central Australian Horticultural Development Project

Investigate the potential for new and existing horticulture industries in Central Australia.


Investigate various peanut varieties suitable for tropical environments. These include short and long cropping cycles (100 day and 150 day cycles).

Improved pastures research

Investigate cool season grasses for production in tropical environments.

Crop diversification: A common pasture grass -Tully 

Rice varietal research

Researching the production performance of aromatic rice lines for under NT conditions.

Sustainable farming systems

This team works closely with scientists across commodities to measure and understand sustainable nutrient and water use. Our research considers the whole-farm system to enable plant industry enterprises to better manage their natural resource and adapt to the changing environment.

Sustainable farm systems: Automatic gas chambers sampling for greenhouse gas emissions 

Nitrogen fertiliser management strategies for plant industries in Northern Australia

Understanding where and how nitrogen fertiliser moves through plants, soil and into the atmosphere, in order to improve productivity and reduce waste.

Land use mapping of horticultural commodities

Investigating the application of land use mapping to improve research outcomes, improve grower best practice and drive management decisions.

Tropical horticulture

Working in partnership with plant industry enterprises, this team provides research development and extension services that increase profitability and sustainability by enhancing productivity and product quality of our important horticultural commodities.

Manipulating mango flowering to extend harvest window

Develop management practices with a view to manipulating the mango harvest window.

Ornamental research program

Investigate the further development of ornamental Curcuma hybrids for commercialisation and the production of new varieties through mutagenesis.

Tropical horticulture: A field of hybridised curcumas 

Building a resilient mango industry in Cambodia and Australia through improved production and supply chain practices

This project has a team of plant scientist from floral biologists, plant nutritionists, entomologists, pathologists, molecular diagnosticians in NT and Cambodia to optimise management strategies and increasing integrated pest management work in the region.

Last updated: 18 April 2016