Antimicrobial alternatives

A foundation CRC SAAFE project aims to develop Calix’s bioactive materials for sustainable agriculture.

Antimicrobial alternatives for sustainable agriculture

Calix Works on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – the ability of microorganisms to resist antimicrobial treatments, especially antibiotics – has a direct impact on the health of people and animals. In the European Union (EU) alone, it is responsible for an estimated 33,000* deaths per year. Its effects are also felt on a financial level worldwide, with AMR estimated to cost the EU €1.5 billion per year in healthcare costs and productivity losses.

Infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are on the rise after years of overprescribing antibiotics.

If left unchecked, the scale of antimicrobial resistance will quickly outpace what we have experienced with COVID-19, with deaths rising to 10 million per year by 2050, according to the United Nations.

Urgent action and innovation is needed to avert a wave of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Calix is using its patented technology to develop bioactive materials that could help reduce our reliance on antibiotics and make a crucial contribution to getting ahead of the next pandemic. Calix is a Tier 1 partner in the CRC SAAFE, an Australian Government initiative that aims to tackle AMR by recognising the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health.

SAAFE provides the means for Calix to fully exploit its core Biotech capabilities in agriculture, food safety and the environment more broadly. We anticipate that the collaboration with agricultural producers, industry partners and research groups will lead to rigorous programs targeting urgent industry needs.

SAAFE also complements a $1m Australian Government Manufacturing Modernisation Fund (MMF) grant to Calix in 2021, which is helping to develop and transform our Biotech manufacturing and research capability at Bacchus Marsh in Victoria.


First study by the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance


Calix partnering in antimicrobial resistance research program

Calix is pleased to announce it is a Tier 1 partner in a new $34.5m Australian Government-backed research project to address antimicrobial resistance in agribusiness, food and the environment.


  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is internationally recognised as a global crisis, projected to cost the global economy US$100 trillion and cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050.
  • On 6 May 2022 Melissa Price, The Minister for Science and Technology and Defence Industries announced $34.5m in grant funding to establish the new Solving Antimicrobial Resistance in Agribusiness, Food and Environments (SAAFE) Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).
  • The SAAFE CRC ( will leverage more than $112 million in cash and in-kind contributions from 53 partners, working across five states and territories, and will operate over a 10-year period. Through focused innovation, CRC SAAFE will assist partners to develop, commercialise and apply radical new solutions, decision support and interventions.
  • Led by the University of South Australia, CRC SAAFE will undertake work with industrial partners, five universities and prestigious research organisations, such as the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the South Australian Research and Development Institute.
  • CRC SAAFE will improve the monitoring of AMR risks, develop new treatment solutions, and provide actionable insights for all industry stakeholders.
  • The CRC provides Calix with world-class resources and industrial connections to materially progress Calix’s Biotech business, through the application of Calix’s core technology to develop, refine and commercialise new antimicrobial materials to improve food safety and agricultural sustainability.

Calix receives regulatory approval for BOOSTER-Mag in Australia

Calix Limited is pleased to announce it has received Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (“APVMA”) approval for its safe, environmentally-friendly crop protection product, BOOSTER-Mag.


  • In January 2020, Calix submitted an application to the APVMA seeking registration for BOOSTER-Mag 609 SC as a non-lethal insecticide for the suppression of two-spotted mite (Tetranychus urticae) in tomatoes and cucurbits (field and protected crops).
  • APVMA concluded its review this month and has approved the application.
  • BOOSTER-Mag can now be supplied or sold and used safely according to the label directions by farmers (using the issue of product registration number #89101).
  • BOOSTER-Mag aims to reduce farmer input costs and produce food more safely and sustainably.
  • The initial registration has been approved without restriction on crop residue, reflecting intrinsic BOOSTER-Mag safety.
  • Large-scale field trials indicate that regular foliar application of BOOSTER-Mag can allow for a material reduction in the use of conventional pesticides without compromising crop yield or yield quality.
  • The initial label registration creates a Bioactive materials platform; establishing product safety and paves the way for expedited approval for use in more crops and more applications.

The registration of BOOSTER-Mag is the culmination of six years of scientifically rigorous product and application development and is a major milestone for Calix and its Biotech business. BOOSTER-Mag is the first registration of a magnesium hydroxide insecticide in the world.

This initial registration validates that the unique form of Calix materials can be safely applied to suppress a highly destructive crop pest. With suppression efficacy also apparent on additional crop pests and a variety of crop diseases, the initial registration provides a solid basis to expand the addressable market.

BOOSTER-Mag description / history

Calix’s core calcination technology enables the production of unique materials characterised by their high porosity and reactivity. Due to the intrinsic safety of produced materials, Calix has focused on the production of highly porous magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide products which are bioactive – early laboratory studies indicated that materials were capable of suppressing common and highly destructive crop diseases.

BOOSTER-Mag is a suspension concentrate (“SC”) of bioactive magnesium hydroxide, developed as a foliar treatment to suppress a variety of crop insect pests and diseases. Large-scale field trials have indicated that regular foliar application of BOOSTER-Mag reduces farmer reliance on conventional pesticides without compromising crop yield or yield quality.

The BOOSTER-Mag value proposition can be summarised as a means to reduce farmer input costs and produce food more safely and sustainably.

With the support of grant funding through the AusIndustry Accelerated Commercialisation programme, Calix completed a six-year development and testing programme, culminating in the January 2020 submission of a technical dossier to the APVMA.

In June 2021, it was announced that the Australian Government’s Manufacturing Modernisation Fund (“MMF”) would support Calix to develop and transform its Biotech manufacturing capability at its Bacchus Marsh facility in Victoria through the award of a grant of $1.0m. The MMF grant is being used to transform the development of, and establish an advanced manufacturing capability for, bio-active materials for crop protection, marine coatings, and health and pharmaceutical applications.

International collaboration, supported by the Australian Government, with the Greek research organisation, CERTH, developed insights into the mode of action of BOOSTER-Mag on tomatoes by measuring the microbiological response of the sprayed plants. The published results support a view that BOOSTER-Mag may have a broad range of applications in agriculture.

APVMA explained

In Australia, all agricultural and veterinary chemical products sold are required to be registered by the APVMA.

The APVMA acts as the Australian Government regulator of agricultural and veterinary (“Agvet”) chemical products.

The registration process involves scientifically evaluating the safety and effectiveness of a product in order to protect the health and safety of people, animals, plants and the environment.

The APVMA regulates Agvet products up to, and including, the point of retail sale. Once approved by the APVMA, a product can be sold for the sole purposes and uses as stated on the product’s label.

Market size and need

The initial label in Australia allows BOOSTER-Mag to be applied for the suppression of two spotted mite in tomato and cucurbit crops, which present an addressable market opportunity estimated at 16,000 ha in Australia. Both tomato and cucurbit crops are vulnerable to insect pests and disease and, as such, conventional pesticides are critical.

In addition, BOOSTER-Mag is part of several larger field trials overseas where other types of crops and applications (e.g. anti-fungi) are being evaluated.

Next Steps

Calix is developing commercial relationships with specialist global crop protection companies with the expertise and capability to fully utilise Calix’s material bioactivity. BOOSTER-Mag field trials are currently underway to support initial market entry and extend the BOOSTER-Mag label, allowing for its use in major crops in Australia and internationally and increasing the addressable market, which conservatively is estimated at 500,000 ha.

Advanced Marine Coatings

Calix awarded $1m to develop Biotechnology manufacturing capability in Australia

We are pleased to announce we have been awarded the maximum $1m grant under the Australian Government’s Manufacturing Modernisation Fund (MMF) to develop and transform our Biotech manufacturing capability at our Bacchus Marsh facility in Victoria.

  • The MMF support will assist Calix to transform the development of, and establish an advanced manufacturing capacity for, bio-active materials for crop protection, marine coatings, and health and pharmaceuticals applications at its Bacchus Marsh facility in Victoria.
  • The funding will support Calix’s recent capital raising for additional lab and production facilities for its Biotech line of business, and free up current capacity constraints on its Advanced Battery Materials program, which currently shares many common facilities.

“We are delighted to have been awarded the maximum MMF grant of $1m to help advance our Biotech manufacturing capability at our Bacchus Marsh facility in Victoria. The grant will supplement our recent capital raise to advance our Biotech business, and free up existing resources, which will be focused on our Advanced Batteries development.

Our development of crop protection products, marine coatings and potential future applications in health and pharmaceuticals will benefit greatly from this assistance.

We thank the Australian Government for its support of Australian manufacturing industries which will assist the development of high value products for domestic and export markets.” Phil Hodgson, CEO and MD. 

Effects of MgO and Mg(OH)2 Microparticle Foliar Treatment

Effects of Magnesium Oxide and Magnesium Hydroxide Microparticle Foliar Treatment

by Aggeliki Andreadelli, Spyros Petrakis, Antiopi Tsoureki, George Tsiolas, Sofia Michailidou, Penelope Baltzopoulou, Robert van Merkestein, Philip Hodgson, Mark Sceats, George Karagiannakis, Antonios M. Makris

Institute of Applied Biosciences, Centre for Research & Technology, Hellas (CERTH), 570 01 Thessaloniki, Greece

Chemical Process & Energy Resources Institute, Centre for Research & Technology, Hellas (CERTH), 570 01 Thessaloniki, Greece

Calix Limited, Pymble, NSW 2073, Australia

Academic Editor: Tim J. Dumonceaux

Microorganisms 20219(6), 1217;

Received: 19 April 2021 / Revised: 31 May 2021 / Accepted: 2 June 2021 / Published: 4 June 2021

(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Microbiology)



Recently, metal oxides and magnesium hydroxide nanoparticles (NPs) with high surface-to-volume ratios were shown to possess antibacterial properties with applications in biomedicine and agriculture. To assess recent observations from field trials on tomatoes showing resistance to pathogen attacks, porous micron-scale particles composed of nano-grains of MgO were hydrated and sprayed on the leaves of healthy tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants in a 20-day program. The results showed that the spray induced (a) a modest and selective stress gene response that was consistent with the absence of phytotoxicity and the production of salicylic acid as a signalling response to pathogens; (b) a shift of the phylloplane microbiota from near 100% dominance by Gram (−) bacteria, leaving extremophiles and cyanobacteria to cover the void; and (c) a response of the fungal leaf phylloplane that showed that the leaf epiphytome was unchanged but the fungal load was reduced by about 70%. The direct microbiome changes together with the low level priming of the plant’s immune system may explain the previously observed resistance to pathogen assaults in field tomato plants sprayed with the same hydrated porous micron-scale particles.

Keywords: MgO nanoparticles; Mg(OH)2 nanoparticles; porous micron particles (PMP); Mg(OH)2 adhesion; plant signalling; leaf microbiome; antibacterial; crop protection


To read the full paper, click here.

The tightening of the use of chemicals continues, especially in Europe

Afepasa presents AFEPASA Mg (incorporating Calix’s BOOSTER-Mag magnesium hydroxide) for pest control at the Fruit Attraction Conference, as a way to reduce the normal chemical dose against mildew, in an efficient, profitable, and sustainable way.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the EU announced it will be banning the fungicide Mancozeb due to off-target toxicity potential.

45 years after introduction, Mancozeb is widely used globally to manage a range of crop diseases and is a key active for the control of diseases in onion, potato, and grape. It joins a list of 44 substances already banned in the last 2 years, with another 11 still to be decided on later this year.

AFEPASA Mg has been designed to reduce the consumption of agrochemicals & the pressure of diseases & agricultural pests, in an effective, profitable & sustainable way.  

Calix’s European bioactive magnesium oxide (MgO) partners have now completed another successful summer of field trials which have shown further compelling evidence our bio-active materials provide multi-spectrum benefits including magnesium (Mg) augmentation and disease and insect pest suppression

Results from the Netherlands indicate that Calix’s bioactive materials promoted healthier onion crop and performed well when used as a substitute for Mancozeb in grower standard treatment programmes.

Accordingly, planning by our partners is underway to extend the application of Calix’s materials in a wider range of crops including green-house, potato, flower bulbs and cereal crops.

Results from Italy and Spain indicate the intrinsic disease suppression efficacy of Calix’s materials allowed the use of conventional pesticide actives (commonly used in viticulture for both powdery and downy mildew control) to be substantially reduced without compromising outcomes.

Calix’s unique bioactive materials are derived from natural minerals and are non-toxic and non-bio accumulative.

Applied as a foliar spray, they provide plants with a highly assimilable source of magnesium and strengthen the plant against abiotic and biotic stress. Calix’s bioactive materials are safe, sustainable and enhance grower productivity.

BOOSTER-Mag for Crop Protection

Robert van Merkestein presenting BOOSTER-Mag

BOOSTER-Mag is a safe, low cost, environmentally sustainable and easy-to-apply foliar spray that can improve productivity and natural resistance to pests and diseases. We are pleased to have recently executed a fourth Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) for BOOSTER-Mag with another multinational crop protection company.


We seek engagement with key opinion leaders (Australia & Overseas) with an interest in:

  • Grower Productivity  developing compatible and complementary IPM methodology
  • Grower Safety and Production Sustainability
  • Collaboration, evaluation and early adoption of innovation

Calix is focussed on the achieving the following outcomes in parallel:

  • Field evaluations to develop efficacy data and application know-how
  • Introduction as a foliar treatment to improve on-farm productivity, simplicity, safety & sustainability
  • Registration as a anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and insect pest control product  Australia


Calix continues to build the BOOSTER-Mag efficacy dossier necessary to achieve registration as a plant protection product in Australia.

A series of field tomato trials were completed over the 18/19 Australian summer to further quantify the effect of BOOSTER-Mag treatment on crop health and productivity.

The results show that relative to untreated controls, BOOSTER-Mag treatment coincided with statistically significant suppression for a range of damaging pests:

• Helicoverpa spp. (cotton bollworm): Victorian and Queensland trials yielded consistent and positive data with treatment in both trials reducing fruit damage at harvest by between 60 to 77%.

• Aleyrodidae (white Fly): Victorian trials indicate BOOSTER-Mag treatment coincided with a 65% reduction in pest pressure.

• Tetranychus urticae (two spotted mite). Queensland trials indicate BOOSTER-Mag treatment suppressed motiles (adults & nymphs) to greater extent than the grower standard chemical treatment.