$1m in funding for project to cull mouse plagues

South Australian researchers are set to use genetic tools to help find innovative solutions to the devastating mouse plagues that have caused massive economic damage to Australian farmers.

DNA image.

The University of Adelaide has been awarded $1 million in funding from the South Australian Government’s Research and Innovation Fund (RIF), to undertake the ground-breaking Genetic Biocontrol Technology for Invasive Pests, or Gene Drive, project, in conjunction with the Department for Environment and Water.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide will develop genetic strategies to suppress invasive rodents with maximum specificity and safety. The team will also conduct research to engage with stakeholders to understand community views and concerns.

University of Adelaide researcher Professor Rachel A. Ankeny said, “It is essential to engage the broader community including the general public and those in the agricultural and related sectors about gene drives, to understand potential impediments and drivers associated with their use.

“This project is an excellent opportunity for scientists, social scientists, and the community to work together in real time as a technology is developed, and to shape the contexts and purposes to which it will be put in the future.”

Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) said the University of Adelaide has a strategic commitment to supporting the growth and sustainability of South Australia’s agricultural sector through research excellence.

“This funding announcement will allow our researchers to further contribute to solutions, which harness new technology and knowledge, to tackle major challenges faced by the sector.”

The four-year project will pilot innovative techniques for helping to protect threatened species and position South Australia as the national leader in this space.