Nano Bio Innovation in Agriculture


Substantial challenges face the future of agricultural production. The global agricultural sector needs to grow more food on less land, with less water, using less energy, fertiliser, pesticide, herbicide, whilst facing new threats (climate change and bio security).

Radical new approaches and disruptive technology can mitigate these challenges.

This is why The University of Queensland’s world-class strengths in materials science and agricultural biology have come together to create the Hub for Nano Bio Innovation in Agriculture (HNIA) .

The HNIA is a unique bridge between scientific discovery and agricultural application. We have the delivery systems, the expertise, and facilities to validate and bring to market new technologies that transform agricultural products and practices.

With commercial partners, outcomes-focused research, and accelerated translation, HNIA is creating and leading advanced materials-based solutions that will seed a sustainable future for agriculturally dependent communities worldwide.

The HNIA brings together the collective expertise of seven diverse research groups from across The University of Queensland. Fundamental science and translational research in materials, chemistry, biology, and biotechnology are developing truly innovative agricultural solutions for today and tomorrow.

Current research centres collaborating in the Centre:


Advanced Materials
Agricultural Nanotechnology
Industrial Biotechnology  


Agricultural Nanotechnology
Plant Science
Animal Science

Hub for Nano Bio Innovation in Agriculture can also access support from the following UQ facilities.

  • SCMB - School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences
    Biosciences Biochemistry & Molecular Biology // Biotechnology // Chemistry // Microbiology & Parasitology
  • SVS – School of Veterinary Science
    Clinical Trials // Infectious disease treatment & control // Farm Animal Facilities
  • SAFS - School of Agriculture & Food Science
    Animal Research // Plant Science Research // Soil Science
  • SBS - The School of Biological Sciences
    Health // Environment // Food Security




Sub-unit Vaccine delivery technology

Topical application of RNAi for crop protection

Improved photostability and rain-fastness in pesticides

Protection and controlled release of active ingredients

Targeted delivery of active ingredients


Case Studies

Hub for Nano Bio Innovation in Agriculture delivers real solutions for industries serving agricultural economies.

Nufarm Limited Partnership

In 2015 Nufarm collaborated with HSMA researchers to develop and translate an exciting new delivery system for double stranded RNA. Through an elegant combination of biology and nanotechnology, the world first "BioClay" solution enabled RNA interference technology to be developed into a low cost, environmentally sustainable, ecologically safe, stable, and easily applied product.

Mitter, Neena, Worrall, Elizabeth A., Robinson, Karl E., Li, Peng, Jain, Ritesh G., Taochy, Christelle, Fletcher, Stephen J., Carroll, Bernard J., Lu, G. Q. (Max) and Xu, Zhi Ping (2017) Clay nanosheets for topical delivery of RNAi for sustained protection against plant viruses. Nature Plants, 3 16207.1-16207.10. doi:10.1038/nplants.2016.207




Leadership Team


Professor Chengzhong (Michael) Yu

Professor Yu is an internationally recognised expert in materials science. He is the inventor of several technology platforms that underpin the HNIA’s activities. He is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow; a referee for more than 50 international journals; and a reviewer for the ARC and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Learn more about Professor Yu

Professor Neena Mitter

Professor Mitter is an agricultural biotechnologist recognised for her leadership in innovative cross-functional research and exceptional industry engagement to address global challenges of agriculture and food security. She is a co-inventor of the BioClay and Sub unit vaccine delivery technologies. Over the past five years her high-quality research has merited 40 publications compatible with the landscape of commercial confidentiality.

Learn more about Professor Mitter

Professor Zhi Ping (Gordon) Xu

Professor Xu is an co-inventor of the BioClay technology and world-renowned expert in materials chemistry. He has received several fellowships and awards, including an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005-2007), ARC Australian Research Fellowship (2008-2012), ARC Future Fellowship (2013-2016), UQ Senior Research Fellowship (2017-2019) and UQ Foundation’s Research Excellence Award (2009). He is also an ARC and NHMRC referee.

Learn more about Professor Xu


The HNIA understands the recipe for true translational research. With world class science and commercial focus, the HNIA team can help your company create tomorrows impactful market solutions.

With our demonstrated track record of facilitating outcomes for investors in translational research, we welcome flexible approaches to R&D and IP management, and tailor agreements to suit each partner’s commercial needs and objectives.