Research laboratories and analysis equipment

Across our campuses, we're home to state-of-the-art biogeochemistry, ecophysiology and ecology, molecular genetics and food sensory labs.

Biogeochemistry labs

The study of ecosystem processes requires the analysis of animal, plant, soil, gas, and water samples for various elements. Our biogeochemistry laboratories at Creswick and Burnley campuses  support the work of our researchers, RhD students and research partners.

Laboratory analytical services are provided on a fee for service basis from the Creswick facilities. The laboratory holds ASPAC accreditation for major soil and plant analysis it conducts.

  • Key analytical instruments
    • Elemental analyser (LECO TruMac, Creswick)
      Analysis of C, N, S elements in plant and soil samples
    • Inductively Coupled Plasma - OES (Varian, Creswick)
      Analysis of a large variety of elements and metals in plant, soil and water samples
    • Dionex HPLC (Creswick)
      Analysis of solutes (carbohydrates, amino acids, organic acids and anions) in plant, soil and water samples
    • Three trace-gas gas chromatographs (Burnley)
      Analysis of CH4, N2O and CO2 in gas samples
    • Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMC) (Creswick)
      Used to detect, quantify, and identify chemicals in air, water, soil, plant and animal tissue, and many other substances.
    • Automated respirometer (Respicond, Creswick)
      Automated analysis of respiration (CO2 efflux) in plant and soil samples
    • Segmented Flow Analyser (Creswick, Burnley) and AQ2 Discrete Analyser (Creswick)
      Analysis of NH4+, NO3- and PO32- in soil and water samples
    • Mid infrared (MIR) spectrometer (Creswick)
      Analysis of soil carbon fractions in soil
    • Isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) (Sercon, Burnley)
      Analysis of stable isotopes (d13C, d15N, d18O, dD) in plant, soil, gas and water samples

Ecophysiology and ecology labs

The measurement of plant responses to environmental variables requires measurements of gas exchange, water relations, plant hydraulic architecture and a range of other plant traits. We have a range of instrumentation to measure these plant responses and many of the instruments are portable and are used in the field.

  • Instruments
    • Infrared gas analyser (LI-6400, Licor, x3, Creswick and Burnley)
      Measurement of plant gas exchange (CO2, H2O)
    • Porometer (LI-1600, Licor, Burnley)
      Measurement of plant gas exchange (H2O)
    • Pressure chamber (PMS 1000 (x3), Soilmoisture 3005 (x3))
      Measurement of plant water relations
    • Leaf area index (LAI 2000, Licor; hemispherical picture, Nikon)
      Measurement of leaf area index
    • Leaf area meter (LI3100, Licor, Burnley; LI3000, Licor Creswick)
      Measurement of leaf area of plants
    • Terrestrial LiDAR scanner (VEGNET, Creswick)
      Automated measurement of plant area index and plant area volume density
    • Osmometer (Osmomat 3000, Gonotech, Burnley)
      Measurement of osmolality of solutions, osmotic potential in plants
    • Plant hydraulics
      Measurement of plant vulnerability to cavitation
    • Microplate absorbance reader (Tecan Sunrise, Burnley, Creswick) –
      Spectrophotometer for biochemical essays
    • Microscopy (Burnley, Creswick)
      Measurement of plant morphological and histological traits
    • Sap flow (Parkville)
      Measurement of water flux in trees

Molecular genetics and tissue culture labs

The Molecular Biology and PC2 laboratories at Creswick provide a purpose built laboratory space for researchers and students to undertake most molecular, genetics and tissue culture techniques.  The laboratories and associated glasshouse are certified for PC2 (physical containment level 2) work.

The laboratories provide up to 16 individual lab benches and are equipped with an extensive range of dedicated equipment and infrastructure for molecular work including laminar and biological cabinets, microscopes (compound and dissecting) as well as other standard molecular, genetics and tissue culture equipment (centrifuges, autoclave, Millipore water, incubators, shakers, balances, -20 and -80 freezers, etc).

  • Key instruments
    • BioRad MyiQ single color real-time PCR detection system (iCycler)
      Detects polymerase chain reactions (PCR) in molecular biology.
    • BioRad- Agarose Gel Electrophoresis System + Gel Imaging Equipment
      For separation and visualisation of nucleic acids using submerged agarose gel
    • UV-Vis Spectrophotometer
      Colorimetric determinations. Phosphate, NO3-N and NH4-n in water soil and plant extracts, pigments, chlorophyll, ascorbic acid, tannins
    • Radiometer Electrical Conductivity (EC) Meter
      Measurement of conductivity of water and soil samples.
    • Radiometer pH Meter
      For high-precision analysis of pH, mV and ion concentration in soil solutions

Food sensory labs

Our food sensory laboratory is equipped with biometric sensory analysis equipment.