Dr Cherri Motti standing at a computer, wearing reading glasses and a white laboriatory coat.

Dr Cherie Motti

Research Scientist
Marine Natural Products Chemist
Contact number
(07) 4753 4143
+61-7-4753 4143
Contact email
  • 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.

PhD, Griffith University, "Molecular Modeling of the Okadaic Acid Class Compounds".
BSc (First Class Hons), University of New England.

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, foraging and predation of crown-of-thorns starfish.

Current projects 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.

Research areas

Algae, Stereochemistry, Spectroscopy, Cytotoxicity, Secondary Metabolites, Chemical Ecology, Mass Spectrometry, Chemical Biology, Environmental Chemistry, Chemicals

Partnerships & Collaborations

Expert Committees and Boards

  • 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)

90 publications in international journals showcasing techniques & instrumentation available in the Biomolecular Analysis Facility

Motti C, Bose U, Roberts R, McDougall C, Smith M, Hall M, Cummin S (2018) Chemical ecology of chemosensation in Asteroidea: insights towards management strategies of pest species. J Chem Ecol 44:147-177.

Kroon F, Motti C, Talbot S, Sobral P, Puotinen M (2018) A workflow for improving estimates of microplastic contamination in marine waters: a case study from North-Western Australia. Environ Pollut 238:26-38.

Miller M, Kroon F, Motti C (2017) Recovering microplastics from marine samples: a review of current practices. Marine Pollut Bull 123:6-18

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. App Environ Microbiol 83(1):e02391-16

Hall M, Kocot K, Baughman K, Fernandez-Valverde S, Gauthier M, Hatleberg W, Krishnan A, McDougall C, Motti C, et al. (2017) The Crown-of-Thorns starfish genome as a tool for biocontrol of a coral reef pest. Nature doi:10.1038/nature22033.

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

Tebben J, Motti C, Siboni N, Tapiolas D, Negri A, Schupp P, Kitamura M, Hatta M, Steinberg P, 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 C (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

Tapiolas D, Raina J-B, Lutz A, Willis B, Motti C (2013) Direct measurement of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in reef-building corals using quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance (qNMR) spectroscopy. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 443:85-89

Raina J, Tapiolas D, Foret S, Lutz A, Abrego D, Ceh J, Seneca F, Clode P, Bourne D, Willis B, Motti C (2013) DMSP biosynthesis by an animal and its role in coral thermal stress response. Nature 502:677-680

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

Motti C, Tapiolas D, Willis R, 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. J Nat Prod 72:290-294