Jonathan Diab

Jonathan Diab

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology


Plastics are employed across almost every sector of human activity. This trend is unlikely to change as humanity expands off our planet, with these materials being incorporated into everything from spacesuits to electronics. However, modern manufacturing methods rely either on petroleum, which is unfeasible once we leave Earth, or on microbial systems, which themselves require expensive feedstocks.

I'm engineering aquatic monocots from the Lemnoideae family, commonly known as duckweeds, as a novel biomanufacturing chassis to harness the efficiency advantages of photosynthesis. Specifically, I'm modifying the plants to produce a class of biodegradable bioplastics called polyhydroxyalkanoates, which retain the functional properties of traditional petroleum-based materials.

I'm also exploring the performance and localisation of bacterial-origin plastic degrading enzymes in a plant system, using duckweed as the model. I’ll be looking at all of this with a consideration for technoeconomic constraints on market success, balanced with the social and environmental costs of production.

  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2014 - 2017 University of California, Santa Cruz United States B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
    2014 - 2017 University of California, Santa Cruz United States B.S. in Ecology
  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2024 Morgan, M. F., Diab, J., Gilliham, M., & Mortimer, J. C. (2024). Green horizons: how plant synthetic biology can enable space exploration and drive on Earth sustainability.. Current opinion in biotechnology, 86, 103069.
    DOI
    2022 York, L. M., Cumming, J. R., Trusiak, A., Bonito, G., von Haden, A. C., Kalluri, U. C., . . . Yang, W. H. (2022). Bioenergy Underground: Challenges and opportunities for phenotyping roots and the microbiome for sustainable bioenergy crop production. Plant Phenome Journal, 5(1).
    DOI Scopus6
    2016 Gilbert, G. S., Ballesteros, J. O., Barrios-Rodriguez, C. A., Bonadies, E. F., Cedeno-Sanchez, M. L., Fossatti-Caballero, N. J., . . . Hubbell, S. P. (2016). USE OF SONIC TOMOGRAPHY TO DETECT AND QUANTIFY WOOD DECAY IN LIVING TREES. APPLICATIONS IN PLANT SCIENCES, 4(12), 13 pages.
    DOI WoS24 Europe PMC2
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2023 - ongoing Member Australian Society of Plant Scientists Australia

Connect With Me
External Profiles