Prof. Weston’s research focuses on chemical ecology and physiology with an emphasis on the generation of a deeper understanding of the plant rhizosphere and its associated microbiome, and how plant interactions with weeds, herbivores, and pests as well as biocontrol organisms are mediated by secondary products.
Research interests have included development of a fundamental understanding of the localization, biosynthesis, and regulation of secondary plant products including those in root exudates as sources of novel chemistry. Recently, metabolomics and genomics approaches have been undertaken to investigate complex biosynthetic pathways impacting plant defense and microbial interactions.
Applied research has focused on large multidisciplinary research projects for prevention of herbicide resistance in common pasture and crop weeds, and development of alternative management strategies for weeds and livestock pests, including the use of biocontrol agents such as dung beetles, crown weevils and flea beetles. Prof Weston also explores soil health and microbial diversity within the plant rhizosphere and the role of bioactive molecules in plant defense and weed suppression.
In May 2023, Leslie was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.