Knowledge for a sustainable world


Dr Steven Harte joined the Natural Resources Institute in 2017, after completing his PhD in organic chemistry at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (University of Manchester) and time spent in industry at Hypha Discovery, a local SME.

During his PhD Steven studied ways of inhibiting spliceosomal protein Snu114 through natural products and synthetic derivatives of those natural products, experience which proved useful in his subsequent employment at Hypha Discovery where he was responsible for analysing, isolating and structural elucidating fungal metabolites as part of a novel drug discovery methodology.

Whilst at the NRI Steven has worked on the identification, isolation and synthesis of semiochemicals collected from a variety of natural sources including soil, plants and insects. These semiochemicals have then utilised in behavioural studies monitoring traps and in conjunction with biocontrol agents in auto-dissemination devices. Steven has also worked on the synergistic effects of different biocontrol agents when used in conjunction (e.g. entomopathogenic fungi and botanical pesticides).

Dr Harte is a member of NRI's Agriculture, Health & Environment Department, working primarily with the chemical ecology and pest behaviour research groups.

Dr Harte’s research interests are generally split into two main aspects:

  • The isolation of semiochemicals and the subsequent study of their effect on insect behaviour and their utilisation in methods of pest control and/or monitoring.
  • Reducing the environmental impact of pesticide use by utilising alternative methods of pest control such as biocontrol agents like entomopathogenic fungi, mating disruption techniques and botanical pesticides.

Combination Biopesticides - Transforming Pest Control in Chinese and UK Agriculture (2019-2021)

A BBSRC-Innovate UK (Newton UK-China) grant in collaboration with AgroPty Ltd (UK), Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, Jiangxi Tian-Ren Ltd this project focuses on environmentally benign fungal pathogens and insecticidal plant extracts which could offer a sustainable alternative to synthetic chemical pesticides.

Novel Trapping Systems for Monitoring and Control of Hylobius abietis (2019-2021)

A CanDo Innovation Challenge Fund in collaboration with Sematol and Forestry Research Scotland this project aims to develop a trap for Hylobius, baited with a lure based on attractive pine volatiles, that can be used for monitoring the pest and/or for controlling it by a lure-and-infect approach using a biopesticide.

Development of a pheromone-based monitoring system for a newly identified Contarinia midge on the Canadian Prairies (2017-2020)

In collaboration with the Canadian Agricultural Research Program this project aims to identify, isolate and synthesise the pheromone from a new Contarinia midge species discovered in the Canadian prairies. This pheromone will subsequently be utilised in field trials to ascertain its effectiveness for monitoring.

Auto-Dissemination of entomopathogenic fungi for sustainable control of spotted wing drosophila (2018-2021)

A Innovate UK grant won in partnership with NIAB-EMR, this project focuses on achieving effective population control of the invasive species, Spotted-Wing Drosophila, by using attractive semiochemicals to lure the pest to an autodissemination device loaded with entomopathogenic fungi.

Exploitation of Interspecific Signals to Deter Oviposition by Spotted-Wing Drosophila (2019-2022)

A BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award with NIAB-EMR, which utilises previous work which showed that Spotted-Wing Drosophila will actively avoid ovipositing on agar plates which have previously been exposed to melanogaster. The exact mechanism of this deterrence will be fully investigated in this project.

  • Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Lecturer
  • Early career researcher representative for the NRI

Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and member of the committee for the local RSC Kent section

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