Unearthing the Potential of Australian Stingless Bee Propolis

Dr Trong Tran a senior lecturer in organic chemistry at the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC), has been awarded $360,000 as part of the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships program. This fellowship will support Dr Tran’s groundbreaking research on native stingless bee propolis, a valuable bee product with immense potential for the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries.

A Distinguished Career Trajectory in Natural Product Chemistry

Earning a PhD from Griffith University in 2015, followed by a successful postdoctoral fellowship at the esteemed National Cancer Institute in the USA, Dr Tran has a proven track record of discovering novel anticancer compounds derived from natural sources. Upon returning to Australia in 2017, Dr Tran joined UniSC and has since transitioned into a leading role within the field of organic chemistry research.

Dr Tran’s research focus lies in harnessing the power of natural products for human health. The current research interest centres on propolis, a sticky material composed of plant resin and beeswax with a rich history of medicinal applications.

Shifting the Focus to Stingless Bee Propolis

While traditional bee research in Australia has primarily focused on honey, Dr Tran’s innovative project pioneers a shift towards propolis, specifically propolis produced by native Australian stingless bees. This research will explore the unique chemical makeup and bioactivities of stingless bee propolis, with the ultimate goal of developing commercially viable products for the functional food and pharmaceutical markets.

Globally, propolis is recognised for its potential health benefits, including bolstering the immune system and combatting microbial infections. It serves as a key ingredient in various products, contributing to a multi-million dollar global market. However, Australian stingless bee propolis remains largely unexplored.

Strong Industry Collaborations for Maximised Impact

Partnering with Native Beeings, a Queensland-based food and agribusiness specialising in Australian stingless bee propolis. This collaboration offers access to valuable resources and expertise, including established beekeeping networks across Queensland with the Australian Native Bee Association as well as Sugarbag Bees and Vanadit Pty Ltd will further enrich the research endeavour.

Unlocking the Potential of a New Queensland Industry

Dr Tran’s research aspires to unlock the immense potential of stingless bee propolis in Queensland. By identifying unique propolis types with distinct chemical properties and bioactivities, the project can pave the way for the development of innovative propolis-based products. These advancements can be translated into large-scale commercialisation, generating new revenue streams for Queensland beekeepers and fostering job creation.

The increasing demand for stingless bee propolis is predicted to encourage beekeepers to propagate native stingless bee populations. This, in turn, will contribute to the sustainability of Queensland's diverse bee species and ensure continued pollination of fruit crops, a vital aspect of the state's food security.

About Advance Queensland’s Industry Research Fellowships

Advance Queensland’s Industry Research Fellowships support PhD qualified researchers to undertake innovative research that addresses an industry issue, in partnership with industry partners to translate research outcomes into practical application.

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Last updated 24 May, 2024
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