Dr Natasha Hungerford

Senior Research Fellow

Centre for Animal Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
n.hungerford@uq.edu.au
+61 7 344 32473

Overview

Dr Natasha Hungerford is an organic chemist and has extensive experience in natural products chemistry. She is a Senior Research Fellow in the Natural Toxin group within the Centre for Animal Science, Queensland Alliance for Agricultural and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and is based at the Health and Food Sciences Precinct (Cooper's Plains). She joined QAAFI in 2016 and is utilising analytical techniques such as liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to identify, evaluate and minimise risks associated with natural toxins found in certain plants. This research focuses on minimising risks to Australian livestock production and to the consumer of certain food products.

Work on honey analysing for toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, pesticides, herbicides and PAHs, and mineral and trace elements has been conducted in collaboration with Queensland Health.Work on stingless bee (Meliponini) honey has extended to the analyses of beneficial components in this honey, including novel sugars, leading to projects funded by AgriFutures Australia and Queensland Health, as well as collaborations with Malaysian researchers.

Poisoning of cattle in pastures by Pimelea plant species is a problem in semi-arid regions of Australia and research work funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has focussed on minimising the impacts of the Pimelea toxin on Australian cattle production. MLA now fund a collaborative UQ-DAF project that applies biopolymer technologies to progress the industry ambition of a carbon neutral beef industry by 2030.

Dr. Hungerford achieved her PhD in 1998, through the UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, and subsequently conducted postdoctoral research in natural products chemistry and in synthetic organic chemistry, at the University of Oxford, Australian National University, The University of Sydney, Griffith University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Research Interests

  • Natural toxins analysis
    Dr Natasha Hungerford's research interests focus on the identification and analysis of natural toxins present in specific plants, with the aim of minimising risks to Australian livestock and to the consumer of certain food products. In particular, the source and identity of pyrrolizidine alkaloid contamination has been assessed by the extraction and identification of pyrrolizidine alkaloids from various plants. Work to mitigate the Pimelea toxin, simplexin, which causes often fatal cattle poisoning in animals grazing inland areas of Australia, is being undertaken. The level of simplexin is being analysed in in vitro rumen trials to monitor and assess the effects of various strategies to breakdown or remove the toxin in the rumen, including microbial degradation, use of adsorbents or biopolymers.
  • Atypical sugars in novel foods
    The presence of significant quantities of the sugar trehalulose in stingless bee honey has prompted a study, funded by Queensland Health, into the levels of atypical sugars in other novel and emerging foods. Public health implications of atypical sugars identified will be examined.
  • Biopolymers to deliver bioactive compounds that reduce enteric methane
    This project involves an interdisciplinary team of researchers from UQ and DAF with the aim of reducing methane emissions from beef cattle. The developed biopolymer technology will be assessed as a rumen insert for the controlled release of active-agents to provide a sustained reduction in enteric methane, applicable to extensive cattle grazing systems.
  • Bioactives in stingless bee honey
    A recent focus has been the analysis of the properties of stingless bee honey, particularly the unique sugar content of these honeys, with this work culminating in grants from AgriFutures Australia and the Malaysian Government International Collaborative Fund (led by Universiti Putra Malaysia). LCMS technologies, ion chromatography, and stable isotope MS techniques have been used in collaboration with Queensland Health with the aims of optimising stingless bee honey bioactive content. This work provided the first report of the atypical disaccharide trehalulose as a major component of the honey of stingless bees (Meliponini) from Australia (2 species), Malaysia (2 species) and Brazil (1 species). Our research has shown that the low GI sugar trehalulose, which is not found significantly in regular honey or as a major component in any other food, is produced by the bees themselves from nectar sucrose. Further studies seek to understand the mechanism of this bee catalysed isomerisation of sucrose to trehalulose.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor (Honours) of Science (Advanced), The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Publications

Featured Publications

Book

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Johnson, Joel, Hungerford, Natasha, Sultanbawa, Yasmina and Netzel, Michael (2023). Nutritional value and chemical composition of Citrus garrawayi from different geographic locations. Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium (QACS), Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 24 November 2023.

  • Johnson, Joel B., Hungerford, Natasha L., Sultanbawa, Yasmina and Netzel, Michael E. (2023). Exploring the chemistry and nutritional properties of native Australian Citrus. NextGen Ag Symposium, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia, 29 September 2023.

  • Zhang, Jiali, Hungerford, Natasha L., Smith, Tobias J., Yates, Hans S. A. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2023). A rare health sugar, trehalulose, discovered in stingless bee honey. 48th International Apiculture Congress, Santiago, Chile, 4-8th September 2023.

  • Johnson, Joel, Hungerford, Natasha, Sultanbawa, Yasmina and Netzel, Michael (2023). Native Australian citrus: its current status and potential. FSS Science Week, Coopers Plains, QLD, Australia, 15-17 August 2023.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2023). Opportunities for chemistry in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. 1st Australian Conference on Green and Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, Cairns, QLD, Australia, 2-5 July 2023.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L. (2023). Trehalulose bioactive content and origin in stingless bee honeys. 5th International Conference on the Medicinal Use of Honey, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, 18-20 May 2023.

  • Hungerford, Natasha (2022). Honey authenticity and provenance. TropAg International Agriculture Conference 2022, Brisbane, 31 October - 2 November 2022.

  • Zhang, J., Hungerford, N. L., Smith, T. J., Yates, H. S. A. and Fletcher, M. T. (2022). The origin of rare reducing sugar, trehalulose, in Australian stingless bee honey. 34th Australian Association of Animal Sciences Conference, Cairns, QLD Australia, 5-7 July 2022.

  • Loh, Z. H., Hungerford, N. L., Ouwerkerk, D., Klieve, A. V. and Fletcher, M. T. (2022). Effects of adsorbents and probiotics in mitigating simplexin poisoning effects in cattle fed Pimelea. 34th Biennial Conference of the Australian Association of Animal Sciences, Cairns, QLD, Australia, 5 - 7 July 2022. Clayton, VIC, Australia: CSIRO Publishing.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L., Zhang, Jiali, Smith, Tobias J., Yates, Hans S. A., Chowdhury, Sadia A., Carter, James F., Carpinelli de Jesus, Matheus and Fletcher, Mary T. (2022). Sugar feeding trials establish the origin of trehalulose in stingless bee honey. RACI National Congress, Brisbane, QLD Australia, 3-8 July 2022.

  • Zhang, Jiali, Hungerford, Natasha L., Yates, Hans S. A., Smith, Tobias J. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2022). Trehalulose formation in Australian stingless bees: an intermolecular isomerization of nectar sucrose. RACI National Congress, Brisbane, QLD Australia, 3-8 July 2022.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L. (2022). From Nectar to Hive: Stingless Bee Honey. Crop to Kitchen 2022 Showcase, Coopers Plains, QLD Australia, 29 June 2022.

  • Hungerford, N. L., Zhang, J., Smith, T. J., Yates, H. S. A., Carpinelli de Jesus, M., Webber, D., Stone, I. S. J. , Blanchfield, J. T., Zawawi, N. and Fletcher, M. T. (2022). Stingless bee honeys feature an unusual bioactive sugar, trehalulose. 3rd Australian Native Bee Conference, Rosehill, NSW Australia, 11-12 June 2022.

  • Zhang, J., Lai, C., Yates, H. S. A., Smith, T. J., Hungerford, N. L. and Fletcher, M. T. (2022). The origin and optimization of trehalulose in Australian stingless bee honey. 3rd Australian Native Bee Conference, Rosehill, NSW Australia, 11-12 June 2022.

  • Hungerford, Natasha (2022). Fingerprinting pyrrolizidine alkaloids in plants and honey. Natural Drugs and Toxins in Australia, Coopers Plains, QLD Australia, 18 May 2022.

  • Ramlan, Nurul Ainaa Farhanah Mat, Zaini, Nur Syamimi, Hungerford, Natasha, Fletcher, Mary and Zawawi, Norhasnida (2022). Determination of phenolic compounds and organic acids of stingless bee honey from Malaysia and Australia. TropAg International Agriculture Conference 2022, Brisbane, QLD Australia, 31 October - 2 November 2022.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L., Zhang, Jiali, Smith, Tobias J., Carpinelli de Jesus, Matheus, Yates, Hans S. A., Chowdhury, Sadia A., Carter, James F., Webber, Dennis, Stone, Isobella S. J., Blanchfield, Joanne T., Zawawi, Norhasnida, Schirra, Horst J., Tran, Trong D. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2021). Stingless bees produce honey rich in the beneficial disaccharide, trehalulose. Symposium of Research & Innovation for Food (SoRIF), Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia via WebEX, 23-24 June 2021.

  • Loh, Zhi Hung, Hungerford, Natasha L., Ouwerkerk, Diane, Klieve, Athol V. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2021). Analysis of the Pimelea toxin simplexin for the development of a cattle microbial probiotic. 1st International Electronic Conference on Toxins, Online, 13-31 January 2021. Basel, Switzerland: Sciforum. doi: 10.3390/IECT2021-09149

  • Yuan, Y., Gauthier, E., Hungerford, N. L., Ouwerkerk, D., Laycock, B. and Fletcher, M. T. (2021). Combating Pimelea poisoning with biodegradable biocomposite-based boluses: an investigation into the slow release of toxins in the rumen environment. Australian Association of Animal Sciences Biennial Conference (AAAS 2021), Fremantle, WA Australia, 1-3 February 2021. Australian Association of Animal Sciences and CSIRO. doi: 10.1071/ANv61n3abs

  • Ouwerkerk, D., Gilbert, R. A., Gravel, J. L., Maguire, A. J., Minchin, C. M., Hungerford, N. L., Loh, Z. H. and Fletcher, M. T. (2021). Enriching for rumen bacteria to degrade the Pimelea plant toxin simplexin, in an anaerobic in vitro fermenter. Australian Association of Animal Sciences Biennial Conference (AAAS 2021), Fremantle, WA Australia, 1-3 February 2021. Australian Association of Animal Sciences and CSIRO. doi: 10.1071/ANv61n3abs

  • Loh, Z. H., Hungerford, N. L., Ouwerkerk, D., Klieve, A. V. and Fletcher, M. T. (2021). Pimelea toxin simplexin and its potential degradation products. Australian Association of Animal Sciences Biennial Conference (AAAS 2021), Fremantle, WA Australia, 1-3 February 2021. Australian Association of Animal Sciences and CSIRO. doi: 10.1071/ANv61n3abs

  • Hungerford, Natasha L., Zhang, Jiali, Smith, Tobias J., Carpinelli de Jesus, Matheus, Yates, Hans S. A., Chowdhury, Sadia A., Carter, James F., Webber, Dennis, Stone, Isobella S. J., Blanchfield, Joanne T., Zawawi, Norhasnida and Fletcher, Mary T. (2021). Stingless Bee Honey’s unique properties. Australian Apitherapy Association Global Conference 2021, Online, 26-27 November 2021.

  • Chowdhury, Sadia A. , Carter, James F. , Anuj, Shalona R. , Cozzolino, Daniel , Hungerford, Natasha L. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2020). A new test and guidelines for the authentication of new-world honeys. 5th Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium, QACS 2020, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 27 November 2020.

  • Loh, Z. H., Hungerford, N. L., Ouwerkerk, D., Klieve, A. V. and Fletcher, M. T. (2020). Identification of volatile plant compounds in Pimelea trichostachya responsible for livestock aversion. 5th Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium, QACS 2020, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 27 November 2020.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L., Zhang, Jiali, Carpinelli de Jesus, Matheus, Yates, Hans, Webber, Dennis, Stone Isolbella S. J., Blanchfield, Joanne T., Zawawi, Norhasnida and Fletcher, Mary T. (2020). Stingless bee honey as a unique source of trehalulose. 5th Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium, QACS 2020, Brisbane, QLD Australia, 27 November 2020.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L. , Fletcher, Mary T. , Webber, Dennis , Carpinelli de Jesus, Matheus , Zhang, Jiali , Stone, Isobella S. J. , Blanchfield, Joanne T. and Zawawi, Norhasnida (2020). Stingless bee honey’s unique properties. Nutrition Society of Australia , Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 25-26 August 2020.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L., Tan, Benjamin L.L., Tinggi, Ujang, Zawawi, Norhasmida, Farrell, Madeleine, Tsai, Heng Hang, Hnatko, Darina, Swann, Lorinda J., Kelly, Cassandra L., Anuj, Shalona R., Webber, Dennis C., Were, Stephen T. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2020). Analysis of environmental contaminants in Australian honey and comparison to stingless bee honey from Queensland and Malaysia. The Third International Tropical Agriculture Conference TropAg 2019 , Brisbane, QLD Australia, 11-13 November 2019. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI. doi: 10.3390/proceedings2019036101

  • Gordon, Russell, Hungerford, Natasha L., Laycock, Bronwyn, Ouwerkerk, Diane and Fletcher, Mary T. (2020). Adsorbents for the sequestration of the Pimelea toxin, simplexin. The Third International Tropical Agriculture Conference TropAg 2019 , Brisbane, QLD Australia, 11-13 November 2019. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI. doi: 10.3390/proceedings2019036090

  • Yuan, Yue, Gauthier, Emilie, Hungerford, Natasha L., Ouwerkerk, Diane , Fletcher, Mary T. and Laycock, Bronwyn (2020). Modelling the controlled release of toxins in a rumen environment. The Third International Tropical Agriculture Conference TropAg 2019 , Brisbane, QLD Australia, 11-13 November 2019. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI. doi: 10.3390/proceedings2019036089

  • Chowdhury, Sadia A., Anuj, Shalona R., Carter, James F., Hungerford, Natasha L., Webber, Dennis, Sultanbawa, Yasmina and Fletcher, Mary T. (2020). A new method for the authentication of Australian honey. Third International Tropical Agriculture Conference (TROPAG 2019), Brisbane, Australia, 11-13 November 2019. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI . doi: 10.3390/proceedings2019036112

  • Gordon, Russell J., Hungerford, Natasha L., Laycock, Bronwyn, Ouwerkerk, Diane and Fletcher, Mary T. (2019). Adsorbents for the sequestration of the Pimelea toxin, simplexin. Northern Beef Research Update Conference (NBRUC) 2019, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 19 - 22 August 2019.

  • Gordon, Russell J., Hungerford, Natasha L., Laycock, Bronwyn and Fletcher, Mary T. (2019). Are toxic Pimelea secondary compounds absorbed via the intestinal lymph?. In: 4th Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium QACS 2019. 4th Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium QACS 2019, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (14-14). 29 November 2019.

  • Loh, Zhi Hung, Hungerford, Natasha L., Ouwerkerk, Diane, Gilbert, Rosalind A., Gravel, Jennifer, Minchin, Catherine M., Maguire, Anita J., Yong, Ken, Klieve, Athol and Fletcher, Mary (2019). Mitigating the effects of the toxin simplexin in pimelea poisoning of cattle by development of a microbial probiotic. TropAg2019, International Tropical Agriculture Conference, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 11 - 13 November 2019.

  • Loh, Z. H., Hungerford, N. L., Ouwerkerk, D., Klieve, A. V. and Fletcher, M. T. (2019). Mitigating the effects of the toxin simplexin in pimelea poisoning of cattle by development of a microbial probiotic. 4th Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium QACS 2019, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 29 November 2019.

  • Yuan, Yue, Gauthier, Emilie, Hungerford, Natasha L., Ouwerkerk, Diane, Fletcher, Mary T. and Laycock, Bronwyn (2019). Modelling the controlled release of toxins in a rumen environment. 4th Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium QACS 2019, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 29 November 2019.

  • Chowdhury, Sadia A., Anuj, Shalona R., Carter, James F., Hungerford, Natasha L. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2018). Authentication of Australian honey (don’t believe the headlines). QACS 2018 - Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 23 November 2018.

  • Chowdhury, Sadia A., Anuj, Shalona R., Carter, James F., Hungerford, Natasha L. and Fletcher, M. T. (2018). Authentication of Australian honey (don’t believe the headlines). QMSS 2018 - 3rd Queensland Mass Spectrometry Symposium, QUT, Brisbane, 6-7 December 2018.

  • Tinggi, U., Hungerford, N.L., Fletcher, M.T., Farrell, M., Tan, B., Were, S.T. and Webber, D.C. (2018). Elemental analysis of honey products sold in Queensland markets and assessment of nutritional significance. ICFA 2018, 2nd International Conference on Food Analysis, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, 19-22 November 2018.

  • Matheus Carpinelli de Jesus, Natasha Hungerford, Steve Carter, Shalona Anuj, Joanne Blanchfield, James De Voss and Mary Fletcher (2018). Identifying the pyrrolizidine alkaloid LC-MS/MS profile of Blue heliotrope (Heliotropium amplexicaule). QMSS 2018 – 3rd Queensland Mass Spectrometry Symposium, QUT, Brisbane, 6-7 December 2018.

  • Ouwerkerk, D., Fletcher, M., Laycock, B., Gilbert, R., Hungerford, N., Gauthier, E., Dixon, R., Silva, L. and Klieve, A. (2018). Improving beef production through management of plant toxins – strategies for the Pimelea problem. Beef Australia 2018, Rockhampton, QLD, Australia, 7-10 May 2018.

  • Carpinelli de Jesus, M., Hungerford, N. L., Carter, S. J., Anuj, S. R., De Voss, J. J., Blanchfield, J. T. and Fletcher, M. T. (2018). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Blue Heliotrope (Heliotropium amplexicaule) in Australia. 10th International Symposium of Poisonous Plants (ISOPP10), St George, Utah, United States, 16-20 September 2018.

  • Melksham, K.M., Hungerford, N.L., Martin, C.L., Fletcher, M.T., Carter, S.J., Anuj, S.R., Tianqi, Z., Zawawi, N., Sharma, E., Yin, M., Nguyen, T.T.P., Were, S.T. and Tan, B. (2018). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in honey. ICFA 2018, 2nd International Conference on Food Analysis, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, 19-22 November 2018.

  • Hungerford, N. L., Martin, C. L., Fletcher, M. T., Carter, S. J., Anuj, S. R., Sharma, E., Yin, M., Nguyen, T. T. P., Melksham, K. J. and Were, S. T. (2018). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids – natural toxins risk in Queensland honey. 10th International Symposium of Poisonous Plants (ISOPP10), St George, Utah, United States, 16-20 September, 2018.

  • Loh, Zhi Hung, Hungerford, Natasha L., Ouwerkerk, Diane, Gilbert, Rosalind A., Klieve, Athol V. and Fletcher, Mary T. (2018). Towards a Microbial Probiotic: LC-MS/MS Analysis of Simulated Rumen Degradation of the Pimelea Toxin Simplexin. QMSS 2018 – 3rd Queensland Mass Spectrometry Symposium, QUT, Brisbane, Australia, 6-7 December 2018.

  • Fletcher, M. T., Hungerford, N. L., Carter, S. J., Anuj, S. R., Martin, C. L., Yin, M., Melsham, K. J. and Were, S. (2017). Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids – Natural Toxins from Flowers to Honey. RACI National Centenary Congress, Melbourne / Melbourne Convention Centre, 23-26 July 2017.

  • Hungerford, N. L., Martin, C. L., Fletcher, M. T., Carter, S. J., Anuj, S. R., Sharma, E., Yin, M., Melksham, K. J. and Were, S. (2017). Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids – The Risk of Natural Toxins in Queensland Honey. TropAg2017, International Tropical Agriculture Conference, Brisbane / Brisbane Convention Centre, 20-22 November 2017.

  • Hungerford, Natasha L., Martin, C. L., Fletcher, M. T., Carter, S. J., Anuj, S. R., Sharma, E., Yin, M., Melksham, K. J. and Were, S. T. (2017). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids – natural toxins risk in Queensland honey. 2nd Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 27 November 2017. Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Queensland University of Technology.

  • Sortais, B., Hungerford, N., McLeod, M. D., Ridley, D. D., Smart, C. G., McKinney, A. R., Sillence, M. N. and Munn, K. J. (2004). Synthesis and Analysis of Equine Anabolic Steroid Metabolites. 20th RACI Organic Chemistry Conference, Cairns Convention Centre, Cairns, Australia, 4-8 July, 2004. RACI.

  • Banwell, M. G., Essers, M., Hungerford, N. and Jolliffe, K.A. (2004). The Synthesis of the Sialic Acid (-)-KDN and Certain Epimers from (-)-3-Dehydroshikimic Acid or (-)-Quinic Acid. Royal Australian Chemical Institute NSW Organic Chemistry Group 25th Annual One-Day Symposium, University of New South Wales, NSW Australia, November 2004.

  • Banwell, M. G., Hungerford, N. and Jolliffe, K. A. (2002). Chemoenzymatic Approaches to Sialic Acids. IUPAC 14th International Conference on Organic Synthesis, Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch New Zealand, 14-19 July 2002.

  • Hungerford, N., Claridge, T. D. W., Watterson, M. P., Aplin, R. T., Moreno, A. and Fleet, G. W. J. (2001). Tetrahydrofuran amino acids: Secondary structure in tetrameric and octameric w-amino acid carbopeptoids. IUPAC World Chemistry Congress, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia, 1-6 July 2001.

  • Moore, C. J., Possner, S., Hayes, P., Paddon-Jones, G. C., Hungerford, N. L. and Kitching, W. (1999). Synthesis of oxygen-heterocycles from a bug and a sponge. 1st Asia-Pacific Conference on Chemical Ecology, Shanghai, China, 1 -4 November 1999. Shanghai, China: Chinese Academy of Science.

  • Hungerford, N. and Kitching, W. (1995). Titanium (II) Based Cis-Reduction of Alkynes: Stereo- and Regiospecific Cis-Deuteriation of Methylene-Skipped Ynes. RACI 9th Brisbane Organic Chemistry Symposium, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, November 1995.

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor