• Natural Products Chemist.
  • Manager of the Biomolecular Analysis Facility (BAF).
  • Manager of the Chemistry Laboratory at AIMS.
My PhD focused on the use of molecular modeling techniques to map the pharmacophore of the okadaic acid class compounds, potent inhibitors of protein phosphatases 1 and 2A. My postdoctoral research (1996-1997) was conducted at the Queensland Pharmaceutical Research Institute (Griffith University) in biodiscovery with a focus on isolation and structure elucidation of bioactive natural products from marine and terrestrial sources. After a three year hiatus I joined the chemistry effort at AIMS. Initially I was involved in two externally funded biodiscovery programmes concentrating on herbicidal and anticancer activities from marine macro- and microorganisms. I also investigated the production of fine chemicals in target aquaculture sponge species which included chemical ecology studies to determine the biogeographical boundaries of the chemistry. In recent years, my research has diversified into metabolomics and functional analysis of secondary metabolites.
  • 1996: PhD, Griffith University, "Molecular Modeling of the Okadaic Acid Class Compounds".
  • 1991: BSc (First Class Hons), University of New England.
Current Research Activities
My research focusses on using spectroscopic techniques including FTMS, LC-MS,NMR, LC-MS/UV-SPE-NMR and FTIR to investigate the role of chemical signalling in the establishment of coral symbioses, coral recruitment, disease and stress responses, and in the aggregation, predation of and by Crown-of-Thorns starfish. Current projects also include development of methods to detect microplastics and polyaromatic hydrocarbons in environmental samples. As manager of the BAF I collaborate on several inter-disciplinary projects working with a variety of scientists including botanists, microbiologists, geochemists, marine biologists and ecologists.
Expert Committees and Boards
  • Guest Editor Marine Drugs (2015)
  • American Society for Mass Spectrometry (2006-present)
  • Principal Investigators Association (2010-present)
  • AIMS@JCU member (2010-present)
  • ANZMAG member (2011-present)
  • ANZSMS member (2011-present)
  • Editor with Journal of Marine Science Research and Development (2012-present)
  • Guest Editor with Marine Drugs (2015)
77 publications in international journals showcasing techniques & instrumentation available in the Biomolecular Analysis Facility

Motti CA, Ettinger-Epstein P, Willis RH, Tapiolas DM (2010) ESI FTICR-MS Analysis of Larvae from the Marine Sponge Luffariella variabilis. Marine Drugs 8:190-199

Motti CA, Tapiolas DM, Willis RH, Freckelton M (2009) FTICR-MS and LC-UV/MS-SPE-NMR Applications for the Rapid Dereplication of a Crude Extract from the Sponge Ianthella flabelliformis. Journal of Natural Products 72:290-294

Tapiolas DM, Bowden BF, Abou-Mansour E, Willis RH, Doyle JR, Muirhead AN, Liptrot CH, Llewellyn LE, Wolff CWW, Wright AD, Motti CA (2009) Eusynstyelamides A, B and C, nNOS inhibitors, from the Ascidian Eusynstyela latericius. Journal of Natural Products 72:1115-1120

Tapiolas DM, Raina J-B, Lutz AH, Willis BL, Motti CA (2013) Direct measurement of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in reef-building corals using quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance (qNMR) spectroscopy. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 443:85-89

Raina JB, Tapiolas DM, Foret S, Lutz AH, Abrego D, Ceh J, Seneca FO, Clode PL, Bourne DG, Willis BL, Motti CA (2013) DMSP biosynthesis by an animal and its role in coral thermal stress response. Nature 502:677-680

Kanakaraju D, Kockler J, Motti CA, Glass BD (2015) Titanium dioxide/zeolite integrated photocatalytic adsorbents for the degradation of amoxicillin. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 166-167:45-55

Tebben J, Motti CA, Siboni N, Tapiolas DM, Negri AP, Schupp PJ, Kitamura M, Hatta M, Steinberg PD, Harder T (2015) Chemical mediation of coral larval settlement by crustose coralline algae. Scientific Reports 5:10803

Siboni N, Abrego D, Evenhuis C, Logan M, Motti CA (2015) Adaptation to local thermal regimes by crustose coralline algae does not affect rates of recruitment in coral larvae. Coral Reefs 34(4):1243-1253

Lima da Costa W, Motti C, Irving P, Van Herwerden L, Vamvounis G (2016) A colorimetric approach towards PAH sensing. Australian Journal of Chemistry 69:1292-1295

Morrow K, Bromhall K, Motti C, Munn C, Bourne D (2017) Allelochemicals produced by the brown macroalga, Lobophora sp., are active against coral larvae and associated bacteria, supporting pathogenic shifts to Vibrio-dominance. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 83(1):e02391-16

Hall MR, Kocot KM, Baughman KW, Fernandez-Valverde SL, Gauthier MEA, Hatleberg WL, Krishnan A, McDougall C, Motti CA, et al. (2017), The Crown-of-Thorns starfish genome as a tool for biocontrol of a coral reef pest. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature22033.

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