Spinifex biomaterials for sustainable real-time crop enhancement, climate change mitigation and wild plant rehabilitation

​Dr Jitka Kochanek is the leader of the Plant Performance Laboratory within the Spinifex Team. In 2021 her team used Spinifex nanomaterials to develop a ‘technology platform’ with biomedical, food packaging, agricultural and environmental rehabilitation applications.  In 2022-23 her team is specifically focused within the agri-environmental space, developing Spinifex biomaterials for sustainable real-time plant enhancement and climate change mitigation. Already the team has successfully and cost-effectively delivered emerging growth regulators to assist crops to cope with climate-related stressors, such as to boost crop yield in semi-arid northern Australia. For wild plant rehabilitation the team has seen game-changing seedling emergence and survival benefits of up to 2100% in-field, thus promising a totally new way to grow wild plants in future plantings. Since parent materials are nature-based, the platform promises a closed circular economy.

Dr Kochanek has been principal chief investigator across 8 industry and government projects (Federal/Horticulture Innovation Australia, Local/Brisbane City Council, State/Qld Government and private industry projects), a research consultant for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and has won the prestigious CSIRO ON-Prime program for her visionary agri-technologies. Other notable achievements are that Dr Kochanek became a stand-alone researcher at <2 years post-PhD, after securing funding as principal CI in 2010; has developed a novel systematic framework to close the circular economy for waste recycling technologies in Australia and Papua New Guinea; was among the first to confirm empirical evidence for epigenetics in plants or animals; and has developed a bioassay to rapidly ascertain plant responses for growth promoting/harming compounds. She has collaborated with some of the world’s top organisations and researchers, such as conservation ecologists at Kew Gardens in the UK and natural product chemists via the Flematti Group at the University of Western Australia. She has had the pleasure of supervising/mentoring >30 research students and 2 postdoctoral researchers.

Key Publications

Kochanek, Jitka, Soo, Rochelle M., Martinez, Cristina, Dakuidreketi, Aloesi and Mudge, Agnieszka M. (2022). Biochar for intensification of plant-related industries to meet productivity, sustainability and economic goals: a review. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 179 106109. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2021.106109

Kochanek, Jitka (2021). Sowing success through transformational technologies. North Sydney, NSW, Australia: Horticulture Innovation Australia.

Kochanek, Jitka, Long, Rowena L., Lisle, Allan T. and Flematti, Gavin R. (2016). Karrikins identified in biochars indicate post-fire chemical cues can influence community diversity and plant development. PLoS ONE, 11 (8) e0161234, e0161234. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161234

Kochanek, Jitka, Steadman, Kathryn J., Probert, Robin J. and Adkins, Steve W. (2011). Parental effects modulate seed longevity: Exploring parental and offspring phenotypes to elucidate pre-zygotic environmental influences. New Phytologist, 191 (1), 223-233. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03681.x

Kochanek, Jitka (2017). On farm evaluation of vegetable seed viability using non-destructive techniques. Sydney, NSW, Australia: Horticulture Innovation Australia .