Natural-Synthetic Hybrids

Using naturally sourced antimicrobials

Combining synthetic and natural biocides

to use different ranges of potencies 

against a wide range of organisms 

​Grape Tannins Based Active Plastic Materials

Charlotte’s PhD project will seek to produce and evaluate polymer blends consisting of grape extracts (specifically, grape tannins) inserted into various polymer materials, for applications where biocidal properties are required of the plastics.


This will use a low value waste product (grape tannins from agro waste produced by the wine industry) to construct potentially commercially viable products that have little environmental impact.

Grape tannins contain a range of naturally occurring polyphenol antioxidant compounds and are seen as safe to use, so are ideal for use in the medical and food industries. The project will entail optimising the processes involved and conducting surface characterization procedures on the films. 

PhD student Charlotte Vendermeer

Charlotte is an enthusiast local student who has done her BSc (Hons) here at the University of Auckland. She is passionate about Materials & Polymer Chemistry

Fungus Derived Antimicrobials

This project aims to elucidate the mechanism of action of ‘epicoccaene’, a yellow/orange pigment produced by the fungus Epicoccum pupurascens to develop a novel antifungal compounds in the future for commercial purposes.


By combining a range of imaging and omics approaches (e.g. genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics), Alex and his team strive to understand how this antifungal natural compound kills moulds.

Epicoccaene contains a peroxide group, and has shown activity against moulds but not yeasts, which is exceptionally rare in nature as most antifungal agents target both forms, since they are all fungi. Therefore, epicoccaene could be a fungicidal molecule with a novel mode of action. Understanding it will provide an opportunity for developing novel antifungal compounds for commercial purposes.

Alex received a MSc in biological sciences at the University of Auckland. He's passionate about biological activities of natural microbial pigments and biotechnology

PhD student Alex Lee

Published Work

Olejar K.J., Ray S., Ricci A., Kilmartin P.A. (2014).  Superior antioxidant polymer films created through the incorporation of grape tannins in ethyl cellulose, Cellulose 21: 4545-4556.

Ricci A., Olejar K.J., Parpinello G.P., Kilmartin P.A., Versari, A. (2015).  Application of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy in the characterization of tannins, Applied Spectroscopy Reviews 50: 407-442.

Ricci A., Parpinello G.P., Olejar K.J., Kilmartin P.A., Versari A. (2015).  The use of Attenuated Total Reflection Medium Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR FT - MIR) and chemometry for identification and classification of commercial tannins, Applied Spectroscopy 69: 1243-1250.

Olejar K.J., Ray S., Kilmartin P.A. (2016). Enhanced antioxidant activity of polyolefin films integrated with grape tannins, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 96: 2825-2831.

Olejar, K.J., Ray, S., Kilmartin P.A. (2016). Utilization of agro-waste in thermoplastics, International Journal of Nanotechnology, (in press).

Ricci, A., Lagel, M.C., Parpinello, G.P., Pizzi, A., Kilmartin, P.A., Versari, A. (2016).  Spectroscopy analysis of phenolic and sugar patterns in a food grade chestnut tannin, Food Chemistry 203: 425-429.

Moodie, L. W., Trepos, R., Cervin, G., Larsen, L., Larsen, D. S., Pavia, H., Hellio, C., Cahill, P., Svenson, J. (2017). Probing the structure–activity relationship of the natural antifouling agent polygodial against both micro-and macrofoulers by semisynthetic modification. Journal of Natural Products, 80(2), 515-525.

Moodie, L. W., Trepos, R., Cervin, G., Bråthen, K. A., Lindgård, B., Reiersen, R., Cahill, P. L., Pavia, H., Hellio, C., Svenson, J. (in press). Prevention of marine biofouling using the natural allelopathic compound Batatasin-III and synthetic analogues. Journal of Natural Products.