Simon Baxter

Dr Simon Baxter

ARC Future Fellow

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Insecticide application can provide the ultimate selective pressure on targeted pests: death upon exposure or survival through the evolution of resistance. The research in my laboratory focuses on; identifying mutations that cause insecticide resistance, determining their fitness costs, measuring genetic diversity after selection for resistance.

Applied and Evolutionary Entomology: Overview of Research Projects

Our group works on a range of molecular and computational projects to improve insect pest control and understand pest biology. Research focuses the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, a worldwide pest of brassica crops (cabbage, broccoli, canola) and horticultural pests Drosophila suzukii and Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni. We also use the model insect Drosophila melanogaster for hypothesis testing and functional genetic experiments.

The Baxter Lab (left to right) Simon Baxter, Zoey Nguyen, Chris Ward, Amanda Choo, Kym Perry and Biko Muita
The Baxter Lab (left to right) Simon Baxter, Zoey Nguyen, Chris Ward, Amanda Choo, Kym Perry and Biko Muita

Insecticide Resistance. Insecticide application can provide the ultimate selective pressure on targeted pests: death upon exposure or survival through the evolution of resistance. The diamondback moth are often the first insect species to evolve resistance to new insecticides in the field and identifying genetic mutations that cause resistance enables these alleles to be monitored over time, and parallel mutations to be investigated in other pest species. 

Bt insecticidal toxins. The soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis can produce insecticidal crystal toxins. The mode of action of these insecticides not completely understood and we are using Drosophila models to better understand how these toxins kill insects, and why they are so specific to their target pests.

Hybridisation and Introgression. Adaptation to new environments often requires new mutations to arise, or selection to occur in pre-existing genetic variants. However, hybridisation between closely related species can facilitate the exchange of pre-adapted genes and promote rapid adaptation.

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). The Sterile Insect Technique involves mass-rearing and release of sterile male insects, who mate with wild females. Progeny are not produced and the population suppression of targeted pests. We are working on developing improved strains of the Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni, for SIT in collaboration with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and the SITplus consortium.

Host Plant Adaptation. Herbivorous insects usually need to detoxify plant chemical defences. We are interested in understanding how insect specialists, who feed on specific plant families, can occasionally expand their host range. This project is a collaboration with Prof. David Heckel, Max Planck Institute, Jena, Germany.

Y-chromosome evolution. Male Y-chromosomes are generally gene poor, highly repetitive and can carry sex determination factors.




ARC Future Fellowship 2015-2020 FT140101303 [Simon Baxter]

"Discovering the pathways and mechanisms underlying bio-insecticide control of the global migratory pest, diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella"


Hermon Slade Foundation Grant 2018-2020[Simon Baxter, Amanda Choo, Zoey Nguyen]

"Developing novel, cost efficient methods for controlling the invasive horticultural pest, Bactrocera tryoni (Queensland Fruit Fly)" Further Information


ARC Discovery Project 2019-2021 DP190102512 [Charlie Robin University of Melbourne, Simon Baxter University of Adelaide, Max Scott North Carolina State University]

"Could Gene Drives be used to eliminate incursions of Drosophila suzukii?"

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 Co-Supervisor The mode of action of Bt insecticidal toxins Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Biko Kahare Muita
    2018 Co-Supervisor The genetic basis of floral variation in the Brassicaceae Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mrs Jayashrini Sakunthala Madawala
    2018 Co-Supervisor The Role of RNA Modifications in Endosperm Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Huong Thi Thuy Ta
    2017 Co-Supervisor Major Evolutionary Adaptive Events in Brassicaceous Plants and Their Insect Hosts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Christopher Michael Ward
    2014 Co-Supervisor Diamondback Moth: Dispersal and Colonisation of Australian Canola Crops Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Kym David Perry
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Improving the Sterile Insect Technique for Queensland Fruit Fly University of Adelaide Doctorate Full Time Thu (Zoey) Nguyen
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2016 - 2019 Associate Editor Insect Molecular Biology Royal Entomological Society United Kingdom
    2015 - 2018 Associate Editor Bulletin of Entomological Research Cambridge University Press United Kingdom
  • Position: ARC Future Fellow
  • Phone: 83132205
  • Email:
  • Fax: 8313 4362
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Molecular Life Sciences, floor 2
  • Room: 2 36
  • Org Unit: Molecular and Biomedical Science

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