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Telephone:+64 3 479 9057

Fields of Research

  • Oxidative stress and redox biology
  • Plant based foods and bioactive molecules
  • Plant breeding and biotechnology
  • Cryopreservation of germplasm
  • The stress biology of plants, animals and algae, including the impacts of pollution and climate change

Researcher Summary

My research is focused on answering fundamental questions associated with how organisms survive under environmental stress and when exposed to toxins and other pollutants, both increasing global problems.

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Much of my research has applications in the biotechnology, crop, food and biomedical industries.

Selected Research Overviews

Seaweed w

Plant and seaweed bioactives

Plants and seaweeds (macroalgae) contain a wide range of bioactive molecules of potential valuable to the food, wine and pharmaceutical industries.

We are investigating effective ways of extracting these molecules and the ability of bioactive molecules to improve the quality of foods and wine, and to protect human cells from stress-induced damage.

potato microtubers

Plant tissue culture and cryopreservation of plant and animal cells

Plant tissue culture involves a wide range of techniques used to grow plant cells, tissues or organs on a nutrient culture medium under sterile conditions.

We investigate and develop tissue culture techniques that can be used to efficiently clone commercially important plants and to store valuable germplasm at ultra-low temperatures, using a technique called cryopreservation.

ROS barley

Oxidative stress biology

While oxygen is important for life is can also be harmful. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are small highly reactive molecules formed as a by-product of the normal metabolism of oxygen in cells. However, under conditions of stress, which can be caused by pollutants or adverse environmental conditions, ROS levels can increase past the point that they can be neutralized. Oxidative damage occurs and an organism is said to be under oxidative stress.

We investigate the importance of ROS production and oxidative stress in plants and other organisms exposed to pollutants and a range of other environmental stressors.

Postgraduate students

Tingting (Lily) LuiPhDFood Sci
Nusyanna Cham PiPhDBotany
Paulo Lagos JimenezPhDMarine Science
Mi TangPhDBotany
Amirreza ZarekariziPhDBotany
Chelsea KerrMScBotany (PLBI)
Madeleine PostMScBotany (PLBI)
Cecila RichardsonMScMarine Science
Yuta OgawaMScBotany (PLBI)
Oscar YipMScBotany
Jessica FitzgeraldBSc HonsBotany (PLBI)
Joshua RichPGDP SciBotany (PLBI)

Research Theme/Centre Involvement

David is involved with the Ag@Otago research theme, and the Otago Global Health Institute.


BIOL123Plants: How They Shape the World
BTNY201Plant Functional Biology and Biotechnology
BTNY461Plant Physiology and Biotechnology
PLBI301Applied Plant Science
PLBI302Plants for the Future
PLBI351Special Topics
PLBI401Plant Biotechnology


Delorme, N. J., Burritt, D. J., Zamora, L. N., Welford, M. R. V., & South, P. M. (2024). Oxidative damage and antioxidants as markers for the selection of emersion hardening treatments in GreenshellTM mussel juveniles (Perna canaliculus). Antioxidants, 13, 198. doi: 10.3390/antiox13020198 Journal - Research Article

Khalil, M. I., Hassan, M. M., Samanta, S. C., Chowdhury, A. K., Hassan, M. Z., Ahmed, N. U., … Burritt, D. J., … Saha, G. (2024). Unraveling the genetic enigma of rice submergence tolerance: Shedding light on the role of ethylene response factor (ERF)-encoding gene SUB1A-1. Plant Physiology & Biochemistry, 206, 108224. doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2023.108224 Journal - Research Article

Gupta, A., Kumar, M., Zhang, B., Tomar, M., Kaur Walia, A., Choya, P., … Burritt, D. J., … Phan Tran, L.-S. (2023). Improvement of qualitative and quantitative traits in cotton under normal and stressed environments using genomics and biotechnological tools: A review. Plant Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2023.111937 Journal - Research Other

Samanali, G. A. P., Burritt, D. J., Burdon, J. N., Kerr, C., Fraser-Miller, S. J., & Gordon, K. C. (2023). Identification and classification of chill-damaged versus sound kiwifruit using Raman spectroscopy and chemometrics. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/jrs.6623 Journal - Research Article

Young, T., Gale, S. L., Ragg, N. L. C., Sander, S. G., Burritt, D. J., Benedict, B., … Alfaro, A. C. (2023). Metabolic regulation of copper toxicity during marine mussel embryogenesis. Metabolites, 13, 838. doi: 10.3390/metabo13070838 Journal - Research Article

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