BSc Plant Science (Cornell University), MS Horticulture (Michigan State University), PhD Plant Physiology and Natural Products Chemistry (Michigan State University)
Professor Weston co-founded and currently leads a large multidisciplinary research team, the Plant Interactions Research Group, investigating plant/plant, plant/microbial, plant/herbivore and insect/soil interactions with a focus on invasion ecology and genetics, chemical ecology and signalling, use of biocontrol organisms for pest management, allelopathy and plant interactions with herbivores resulting in toxicity.
Professor Weston has focused on the study of bioactive natural plant products that are involved in plant defence strategies, with a particular emphasis on bioherbicides and phytotoxins. Ground-breaking research techniques employing analytical chemistry, metabolomics, separation science, genomics and population and field ecology has resulted in advances in our understanding of how plants employ secondary products as chemical signalling agents, in defence strategies against pests including weeds and grazing herbivores, localization of these metabolites in the plant and soil rhizosphere and their impact on the function and dynamics of soil microbial communities. Recent studies have also focused on a greater understanding of their role in toxicity to grazing livestock and specific mode of action as herbicides, cytotoxins and photosensitisers.
From an applied standpoint, our laboratory focuses on understanding how weeds and invasive plants adapt to novel environments and spread. Emphasis has been placed on the development of alternative and integrated weed management strategies to limit the spread of herbicide resistant weeds. We study the use of competitive crops, rotational crops, and both chemical, cultural and mechanical approaches to effectively manage weed invaders in crops and pastures. Particular emphasis on study of the biology and ecology of newly emerging weeds such as panic grasses, wild melons, annual ryegrass, fleabane, Paterson’s curse and mikania or mile-a-minute vine have resulted in improved identification and management strategies, and understanding of why these weeds have become successful invaders, both in Australia and more globally.
Professor Weston provides occasional lectures in Introduction to Science, Weed and Pest Management and Natural Products Chemistry/Separation Science. She supervises honours, Masters and PhD students in weed science, metabolomics, plant and microbial interactions and biomedicinal crop physiology
Localisation, transport and mode of action of allelochemicals and toxins, metabolomics, photosensitisation, plant rhizosphere interactions, ecology and genetic diversity of invasive weeds, weed suppressive crops.
(Selected publications are listed below)