Browne goes Blue2Green with Psa research

4 August 2017

Ashleigh Browne
Ashleigh Browne will present her Masters research at next week's Blue2Green Marine Biotechnology Convention in Tauranga

With an industry valued at $1.6 billion to the New Zealand economy, the humble kiwifruit has beaten the grape for the first time in the race for highest export value.

Protecting our national fruit from threats like terrestrial pathogen Psa may sound like a job for the Men in Black, but Whakatane woman Ashleigh Browne dedicated her Masters research to the discovery of marine bioactive compounds to control the disease that threatened the kiwifruit industry over seven years ago.

She examined seaweeds that were known to produce bioactive compounds for defence against related pathogens in the marine environment and tested a variety of species for anti-Psa activity. As the world’s largest exporter of kiwifruit, Ashleigh’s research explores alternative, sustainable agrichemical control options for the long-term management of the country’s kiwifruit industry.

“The organic nature of a novel marine-derived agrichemical will likely have little to no environmental effects in comparison to other tools. Also, because the product is marine-derived, it’s less likely that Psa, a terrestrial pathogen, will develop resistance.”

Next week Ashleigh joins an accomplished group of local, national and international speakers at the Blue2Green Marine Biotechnology Convention in Tauranga to present her Masters research. Blue2Green is the first meeting of its type in this country and brings together scientists, business people and policy makers to examine how advances in marine biotechnology may benefit New Zealand and New Zealanders.

Ashleigh says that being able to attend a world-class event that showcases a region that sits very close to her heart and home, is a rarity. “There are not many occasions when the fields leading thinkers, dreamers, and doers all come together into one room to share knowledge and ideas.”

A fascination with the concept of ‘bio-discovery’ — the discovery of natural resources for potential commercial applications — and curiosity to explore the virtually untapped marine environment led Whakatane’s Ashleigh Browne to embark her Master’s research project which crosses two field of study. Two years on and she now works in a job that encompasses both biodiscovery and marine biology.

After completing a Diploma in Marine Studies from the (then) Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Ashleigh went on to a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biological Sciences from the University of Waikato in Tauranga. She then continued her Master of Biological Science (MSc) from Waikato, and, handed in her thesis the same month she started her first graduate job at Opotiki’s New Zealand Manuka Group. Ashleigh’s role as a technical officer within the science team focuses on exploring new windows of opportunity within the company’s seaweed and Manuka/ Kanuka oil divisions.

“As a recent University of Waikato graduate now out in the workforce, it makes me incredibly proud to be able attend Blue2Green to sit beside people like my MSc supervisors and participate, learn, and grow as a new industry representative. Then, to be able to take this new knowledge and use it to create innovative ideas in my own workplace, is invaluable.”

Related stories

University of Waikato Radiocarbon dating

Waikato researcher re-writing history of ancient human movement across the Pacific

A University of Waikato researcher is re-writing the history of ancient human movement across the…

Tom Shaw prize supports biological sciences

Remembering Tom Shaw: Family gift supports biological sciences students

To remember their brother Tom, the Shaw brothers and their parents established the Tom Shaw…

Mr G’s final ‘HOME’ artwork “Kotahitanga” embodies the essence of Waitangi Day

World-renowned street artist Mr G has spent Waitangi Day working on the final artwork in…

2020 New Professors

University of Waikato announces new professorial appointments

Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley has recently acknowledged new Professors and Associate Professors of the University.

RH Innovation

Student-owned agri-tech startup gains business boost from Microsoft

A student-based agri-tech startup company that has developed an inventive way to measure moisture, salinity…

Louis Schipper & Vic Arcus

Waikato researchers aim to find out what happens to life as the world heats up

A large research project that seeks to understand how biology responds to increasing temperature could…

Adams Centre for High Performance

Tertiary organisations collaborate to deliver sport and health degree in the Bay

Last week, the University of Waikato and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology finalised an agreement…

University of Waikato Chancellor Sir Anand Satyanand (left) awards the honorary doctorate to Rt Honourable James Bolger ONZ (right)

Former PM and Chancellor accepts an honorary doctorate

The University of Waikato’s longest-serving Chancellor, the Rt Honourable James Bolger ONZ, accepted an honorary…

Uni students can get a Jump Start on study

Jump Start gives students the opportunity to knock off their first 100-level paper of their…

Free joint regional bus service announced for tertiary students

A free regional bus service for tertiary students will be launched in 2020 across the…

Tertiary providers collaborate on study options expo for tangata whenua of Tauranga Moana

Nga Kete o Te Wānanga is a free event for tangata whenua to connect Māori…

 Dr Alison Campbell

Science educator named Honorary Fellow by the University of Waikato

A long-standing University of Waikato academic and science communicator has been named an Honorary Fellow…