19 January 2004

Brilliant green turf all-year round, needing less maintenance and mowing, could soon be available through technology developed at The University of Queensland.

UQ Associate Professor Jimmy Botella hopes to develop the new turf varieties based on his discovery of a common plant gene which can be "switched-on" to make a plant greener as well as produce more flowers.

This technology and two others discovered by Associate Professor Botella and his UQ team have been patented and packaged into a deal valued at $3.26 million by UniQuest Pty Ltd, UQ's main technology commercialisation company.

UniQuest has licensed the technology to Origo Biotech, which in turn has contracted Associate Professor Botella to develop new plant cultivars, including turf, with unique growth habits.

Origo Biotech, backed by Origo Investments Pty Ltd, is an Australian company majority owned by Spanish investors

UniQuest Innovation and Commercial Development manager Andrew Cecil said the new turf cultivar would be ideal for golf courses.

"We intend for this new grass to be lush, slow-growing and require less frequent mowing and fertilising than existing cultivars," Mr Cecil said.

"Other new products will include unique varieties of flowering plants for potted colour and a cultivar of papaya that is slow to ripen. Also, the technologies could be applied to substantially increase the production of important crops like rice."

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said he was delighted that Origo had recognised the potential of the technologies developed at UQ.

"Professor Botella is renowned as an expert in his field. Origo's investment provides a great opportunity to realise a commercial return from these promising technologies," Mr Henderson said.

Origo Biotech will begin the research and development program early this year.

For more information: David Henderson (07 3365 4033 or 0418 745 404) or Julia Renaud (07.3365 4037 or 0414 554 037, email j.renaud@uniquest.com.au)