Small plants regenerating in a vial

Plant gene technology

CSIRO is a leader in plant gene technology delivering practical, profitable and sustainable plant products and novel gene technologies.

  • 22 March 2007 | Updated 13 April 2012

The capability

CSIRO has a range of expertise in plant gene technology to:

  • discover genes
  • understand gene functions and interactions
  • control gene activity
  • modify genes
  • transfer genes
  • identify and use genetic markers to speed up conventional plant breeding.

All gene technology research at CSIRO is conducted in strict accordance with regulations as set down by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) and the Gene Technology Act 2000.

How CSIRO uses it

Our capability helps us to develop plants with:

CSIRO is a recognised world leader in plant gene technology research and development.
  • better nutritional features
  • greater resistance to pests and diseases
  • improved tolerance to drought and other hostile environments. 

By applying our gene technology capability, we have developed:

  • healthier oils from oilseeds
  • wheat with healthier starch properties
  • insect resistant cotton, Bollgard II.

We are also:

  • studying basic genetics of plant reproduction, including flowering and seed
  • working on an international project to identify the function of all rice genes
  • researching methods of producing plants as biofactories to make compounds useful as alternatives to petrochemicals or improved pharmaceuticals
  • investigating potential impacts that genetically modified plants may have on their environment.

CSIRO was the first in the world to demonstrate the effectiveness of hairpin RNAi to silence genes in plants. This technology has broad application for gene discovery and development of novel traits in plants.

Our facilities

CSIRO maintains a large number of glasshouses and controlled environment facilities suitable for gene technology research with plants.

Our laboratories are fitted with advanced equipment to support gene technology research and adhere to relevant government regulations.

Our laboratories are located across Australia. Canberra is the hub of gene technology research, supported by facilities and expertise in:

  • Brisbane, Queensland
  • Narrabri, New South Wales
  • Perth, Western Australia
  • Adelaide, South Australia.


To advance mutual interests in plant gene technology, CSIRO forms strategic alliances nationally and internationally with businesses and other research organisations, including universities and government departments.

For example CSIRO:

  • is part of the NSW Centre for Agricultural Genomics
  • has a strategic alliance to develop modern biotechnology tools applicable to cotton and other crops with Bayer CropScience 
  • licenses its hairpin RNAi technology to a range of organisations worldwide.

Related information sheets

Related scientific papers