Associate Professor Paul Ebert

Reader

School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science
p.ebert@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 52973

Overview

Molecular mechanisms of phosphine resistance

Genetic mapping of oxidative stress resistance genes. The fumigant, phosphine, disrupts oxidative metabolism, resulting in the production of reactive oxygen intermediates. This causes the premature ageing and death of targeted pests. Insect pests of stored grain in Australia now exhibit resistance to phosphine at levels more than 200 times the normal lethal dose.

We are using genetic mapping to clone the genes responsible for phosphine resistance in the Lesser Grain Borer.We are also using functional genomics of the model organisms C. elegans to understand the molecular basis of phosphine actionOur genetic studies have recently shown that resistance to phosphine is associated with an extension of lifespan

Research Interests

  • Metabolic toxicology - fumigant toxicology
    I am interested in energy metabolism and mitochondrial function. My work is based around the toxicology of the agricultural fumigant, phosphine. The phosphine resistance gene, dld, not only results in phosphine resistance, but also modulates cellular energy metabolism.
  • Fumigant synergists - gasotransmitters
    To better understand phosphine toxicity and how the toxicity might be synergistically enhanced to improve pest control, we are comparing and contrasting phosphine toxicology with he toxicology of endogenous gasotransmitter signalling molecules.
  • Metabolic toxicology - ageing and diseases of ageing
    The dld gene not only influences phosphine resistance, but also can extend lifespan and protect against pathology in an animal model of Alzheimer's disease.
  • A phenotype first model to explain the evolution of phosphine resistance
    The evolution of resistance to agricultural pesticides poses a serious risk to global food security. Our observations regarding phosphine resistance has led us to a model by which a phenotype (e.g. resistance) is first created epigenetically and only subsequently stabilised via genetic change.

Research Impacts

Our discovery of the economically important phosphine resistance gene has allowed us to characterise resistance across Australia and India. It is now being use to monitor resistance management styrategies in collaboration with major grain handling companies to improve commercial practice in Australia and India. This is the subject of the current Australia-India AISRF project on which I am the UQ lead investigator. We have also used the gene marker to characterise resistance in Vietnam, China, Turkey. Others have used our work to characterise resistance in the USA and Brazil.

We have also sought to use our understanding of how phosphine works to identify synergistic gases that might be used to extend the useful life of phosphine and a grain fumigant. We have discovered that the gasotransmitters, hydrogen sulfide and carbonyl sulfide are potent synergists of phosphine toxicity. This work was supported by an ARC Discovery grant and a research grant from the Plant Biosecurity CRC.

We have also discovered the the phosphine resistance gene, dld, is a lifespan extending factor. Interestingly, it also protects against pathology in a C. elegans model of Alzheimer's disease, a serious ageing associated disease. Alzheimer's disease is a major disease of global importance with huge economic ramifications due to the level of care required by people who suffer from dementia. Our system allows us to explore the metabolic basis of the disease, an aspect that has until recently been largely neglected.

Qualifications

  • PhD, Washington State U (WSU)
  • MSc, U Washington (UW)
  • BSc, UC Riverside (UCR)

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Schlipalius, D., Ebert, P. R. and Hunt, G. J. (2008). Honeybee. In Wayne Hunter and Chittaranjan Kole (Ed.), Genome mapping and genomics in arthropods (pp. 1-16) Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Kuang, J., Zuryn, S., Valmas, N., Cha'on, U, Cui, Y.W., Cheng, Q., Tuck, A., Collins, P.J. and Ebert, P.R. (2008). Biochemical mechanisms of phosphine action and resistance. In: Daolin, G., Navarro, S., Jian, Y., Cheng, T., Zuxun, J., Yue, L. and Haipeng, W., Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Controlled Atmosphere and Fumigation in Stored Products. 8th International Conference on Controlled Atmosphere and Fumigation in Stored Products, Chengdu, China, (55-60). 21-26 September 2008.

  • Schlipalius, D.I., Jagadeesan, R., Mau, Y., Collins, P.J. and Ebert, P.R. (2008). DNA testing for phosphine resistance - the future of resistance monitoring and management. In: Daolin, G., Navarro, S., Jian, Y., Cheng, T., Zuxun, J., Yue, L., Yang, L. and Haipeng, W., Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Controlled Atmosphere and Fumigation in Stored Products. 8th International Conference on Controlled Atmosphere and Fumigation in Stored Products, Chengdu, China, (595-598). 21-26 September 2008.

  • Miller, V., Oldfield, E. G., O'Brien, M., Hughes, C. P. and Ebert, P. R. (2006). Should peers be the face of first year learning?. In: Engaging Students. 9th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference, Griffith University Gold Coast, Qld, Australia, (). 12-14 July, 2006.

  • Ebert, P. R. (2004). Genomic strategies in the study of nutrition. In: Nutrition Society of Australia 28th Annual Scientific Meeting. Nutrition Society of Australia 28th Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane, ((Abstract)). 11-13 Aug, 2004.

  • Ebert, P. R., Cheng, Q., Valmas, N., Zuryn, S. J., Cha'on, U., Schlipalius, D., Collins, P., Mau, Y., Chen, W., Whan, A. P., Huang, Y. and Chiu, H. (2004). Molecular mechanisms of phosphine toxicity and the genetics of resistence. In: J. LaSalle, M. Patten and M. Zalucki, XXII International Congress of Entomology. Entomology Strength in Diversity, Brisbane, Australia, (29-29). 11-15 August.

  • Schenk, P. M. P., Anderson, J., Badruzsaufari, B., Desmond, O. J., Thomas-Hall, S. R., McGrath, K. C., Timmins, M., Maclean, D. J., Ebert, P. R., Manners, J. and Kazan, K. (2004). Plant defence signaling in Arabidopsis. In: C. Robinson, ComBio 2004. ComBio2004, Perth, Australia, (30). 26-30 September, 2004.

  • Ebert, P. R., Reilly, P. E., Mau, Y. S., Schlipalius, D.I. and Collins, P.J. (2003). The molecular genetics of phosphine resistance in the lesser grain borer and implications for management. In: E.J Wright, M.C. Webb and E. Highley, Proceedings of the Australian Postharvest Technical Conference. Australian Postharvest Technical Conference, Canberra, (152-155). 25-27 June, 2003.

  • Humphries, M. and Ebert, P. R. (1999). A unique D1-like dopamine receptor gene in honey bees shows age related expression in mushroom body intrinsic cells. In: Social insects at the turn of the millennium: 13th Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI). XIII International Congress of IUSSI: IUSSI 1999, Adelaide, S. Aust., (). 29 December, 1998 - 4 January, 1999.

  • Dutton, P., Mccart, A., Whitehall, V. L. and Ebert, P. R. (1999). Comparative genomic and detailed structural analysis of the GABA neurotransmitter transporter gene family between vertebrates and the invertebrates, Apis Mellifera and C.elegans. In: Combined Conference Abstracts: 43rd Annual ASBMB, 18th Annual ANZSCDB and 39th Annual ASPP. ComBio 99, Conrad Jupiters, Gold Coast, (). 27-30 September, 1999.

  • Remans, T., Schenk, P. M., Elliot, A. R., Sagi, L., Geering, A. D., McMichael, L. A., Thomas, J.E., Swennen, R. L., Grof, C. P., Manners, J. and Ebert, P.R. (1999). Promoters from Australian Banana streak Badna-Virus (BSV) isolates drive transgene expression in Banana, Sugarcane and Tobacco. In: Combined Conference Abstracts: 43rd Annual ASBMB, 18th Annual ANZSCDB and 39th Annual ASPP. ComBio 99, Conrad Jupiters, Gold Coast, (Pos-Wed-04). 27-30 September, 1999.

  • Ebert, P. R., Meadows, B., Humphries, M., Swasdipan, N., Whitehall, V. L. and Doan, T. (1999). Structural features of the biogenic amine receptor genes. In: Social insects at the turn of the millennium: 13th Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI). XIII International Congress of IUSSI: IUSSI 1999, Adelaide, S. Aust., (). 29 December, 1998 - 4 January, 1999.

Edited Outputs

  • Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004) . Edited by P. R. Ebert. Nutrition Society of Australia 28th Annual Scientific Meeting, 11-13 August, Brisbane Convention Centre, Brisbane.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.