Skip to main content
Ongoing project

ARC research hub for sustainable crop protection (bioclay) (BS20777)

Key research provider: ARC Research Hub for sustainable crop protection

What’s it all about?

This investment is supporting the development of a BioClay compound to target botrytis in strawberries. The project is funded using royalties from strawberry varieties developed under the National strawberry varietal improvement program (BS17000).

The fungus that causes Botrytis fruit rot, also known as grey mould, is widespread in the environment. It can infect strawberry flowers when spores landing on them and are exposed to free water during cool weather. Infections can either cause flowers to rot or Botrytis can become dormant in floral tissues. Dormant infections resume activity on the berry later in the season any time before or after harvest when sugars increase, and conditions become favourable to disease development.

The project’s aims are to:

  • Develop the BioClay platform to target fungal pathogens of global significance to both horticulture (including strawberries and grapes) and broadacre crops (including canola, wheat, cotton and chickpea)
  • Generate new knowledge on the mechanisms of BioClay-fungi-crop interactions, towards optimising the system and identifying new applications for crop improvement
  • Formulate BioClay to industry specifications (scale-up, manufacturing, formulation, adoption), attaining regulatory approval and commercialisation
  • Develop a social licence to operate/policy/consumer acceptance of the BioClay platform.

The ARC Research Hub for sustainable crop protection is supported by the Australia Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP). The research team aims to transform crop protection technology by delivering non-GM, non-toxic RNAi based fungicides for specific fungal diseases of crops.

The Hub aims to develop and commercialise an innovative biological alternative to chemical fungicides targeting economically significant broad-acre and horticultural crop diseases. It addresses industry challenges of fungicide resistance, chemical residues in food, off-target effects and environmental harm.

For more information on this research and the ARC Research Hub, go to

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Strawberry Fund