Phytochemistry of hybrid Anigozanthos (kangaroo paw) flowers

Identification of the coloured compounds and their production in unique kangaroo paw flowers


Researchers at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth WA have been breeding new varieties of native plants that exhibit more desirable characteristics such as different colouring, extended flowering season and more compact forms. As part of this research, often different coloured flowers are obtained that are not seen in natural settings, such as the unique kangaroo paw known as 'Kings Park Royale'.

The aim of this project is to elucidate the chemistry behind these colours with a focus on kangaroo paws and investigate the biosynthetic pathways for some of these chemical compounds. This will better inform breeding programs and aid in producing even more unique varieties in a wide range of plant genera.

This project will involve natural products isolation and identification with the option to explore biochemical pathways of these natural compounds as the project progresses.

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will:

  • Extract various kangaroo paw flowers and analyse solvent extracts by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) - mass spectrometry
  • Attempt isolation of potentially new compounds using silica chromatography and semi-preparative HPLC techniques
  • Identify and characterise new compounds by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry
  • Using comparative transcriptomics, determine key genes and biosynthetic pathways upregulated in selected flower parts.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Suggested readings

Research team leader - Dr Gavin Flematti

I am a natural products chemist, with broad interests in chemical ecology and organic synthesis; I am in the School of Molecular Sciences at UWA. My research is focused mainly on the discovery of bioactive natural compounds. The specific activity of these compounds ranges from plant growth regulators to medicinal compounds, to organism defence, attraction and communication. I collaborate with a range of scientists from other disciplines and make use of different assays for guiding purification of bioactive compounds that we identify using advanced analytical chemistry techniques.


External collaborator - Kings Park and Botanic Garden

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • Honours degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry/Genetics
  • Experience in natural products chemistry and biochemical pathways would be an advantage

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
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