Dr Megan Shelden

Megan Shelden
ARC DECRA Fellow
School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Faculty of Sciences

Megan is an ARC DECRA Fellow. She gained her PhD in Plant Biology at The University of Adelaide. Megan’s research interest is in the area of abiotic stress (salinity, drought) tolerance in agricultural crops. Of particular interest to her is the ability of the root system to adapt to abiotic stress and maintain growth, increasing root soil exploration for nutrient and water uptake. Her expertise includes root biology, plant physiology, plant biochemistry, molecular biology and functional genomics. Her current research aims to identify the molecular mechanisms that control and regulate root growth in response to salinity using barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) as a cereal model. The knowledge gained in barley will provide important information for increasing salinity tolerance in other Australian cereal crops, most notably wheat.

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Dr Megan Shelden

Megan is an ARC DECRA Fellow. She gained her PhD in Plant Biology at The University of Adelaide. Megan’s research interest is in the area of abiotic stress (salinity, drought) tolerance in agricultural crops. Of particular interest to her is the ability of the root system to adapt to abiotic stress and maintain growth, increasing root soil exploration for nutrient and water uptake. Her expertise includes root biology, plant physiology, plant biochemistry, molecular biology and functional genomics. Her current research aims to identify the molecular mechanisms that control and regulate root growth in response to salinity using barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) as a cereal model. The knowledge gained in barley will provide important information for increasing salinity tolerance in other Australian cereal crops, most notably wheat.

Environmental stresses such as drought and soil salinity cause major crop yield losses in agriculture, significantly impacting on agriculture sustainability. Soil salinity is estimated to affect more than 800 million ha of land (FAO, 2008). Currently, 67% of the land affected in Australia is in the cereal (wheat, barley) growing regions, particularly impacting south-western and south-eastern Australia. Dryland salinity significantly reduces crop yields and is estimated to cost the Australian farming industry around $1.5 billion a year.

Two major factors are driving the need to improve agricultural yields.  The first is climate change, which means that wheat and barley are grown in increasingly hostile environments with soil salinity and drought both expected to increase this century, reducing the availability of arable land. The second is the increase in global population, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. An increase in global agriculture productivity will be needed to meet the increase in demand for global food supply. 

In agricultural crops, the root system plays a critical role in determining crop yield. The root system is the first part of the plant to sense changes in the soil environment, thus roots need to rapidly adapt to these changes to maintain growth. Soil salinity and water deficit impose an immediate stress on the root system that results in a reduction in root turgor and growth. The ability of the roots to maintain growth in response to salinity is an important adaptation that allows increased soil exploration for water and nutrient uptake. In order to improve crop performance and yield in salinity-affected regions we require a better understanding of how cereals respond and adapt to salinity stress.

My research is aimed at understanding salinity tolerance in the agricultural crops, barley and wheat. Of particular interest to me is how the root system adapts to salinity stress and maintains growth, thereby continuing optimal uptake of nutrients and water from the soil. To identify crops that have root systems better adapted to saline soils, we can measure root growth in genetically different barley and wheat (domesticated, landraces and wild) that are adapted to grow in different climates around the world. My research has identified two genetically different barley varieties (tolerant and susceptible) that differ in their root growth in response to salinity. We aim to understand these adaptations (traits) by identifying the gene variants (alleles) that are responsible for the differences in root growth in response to salinity. We can obtain more information about how these genes function in plants by using technologies such as genetic modification (GM) and the relatively new technology, CRISPR. These gene variants can then be incorporated into breeding programs by traditional breeding or GM to develop new and improved wheat and barley varieties that are better adapted to saline soils.

Appointments

Date Position Institution name
2014 ARC DECRA Fellow University of Adelaide
2009 - 2013 Research Fellow University of Melbourne
2007 - 2009 Postdoctoral Fellow Australian National University

Education

Date Institution name Country Title
2008 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
1994 - 1997 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Journals

Date Citation
2016 Shelden,M, Dias,D, Jayasinghe,N, Bacic,A, Roessner,U, 2016, Root spatial metabolite profiling of two genotypes of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) reveals differences in response to short-term salt stress, Journal of Exerimental Botany, 67, 12, 3731-3745 10.1093/jxb/erw059
2013 Shelden,M, Roessner,U, 2013, Advances in functional genomics for investigating salinity stress tolerance mechanisms in cereals, Frontiers in Plant Science, 4, article 123, 1-8 10.3389/fpls.2013.00123
2013 Shelden,M, Roessner,U, Sharp,R, Tester,M, Bacic,A, 2013, Genetic variation in the root growth response of barley genotypes to salinity stress, Functional Plant Biology, 40, 5, 516-530 10.1071/FP12290
2011 Price,G, Shelden,M, Howitt,S, 2011, Membrane topology of the cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter, SbtA, and identification of potential regulatory loops, Molecular Membrane Biology, 28, 5, 265-275 10.3109/09687688.2011.593049
2010 Shelden,M, Howitt,S, Price,G, 2010, Membrane topology of the cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter, BicA, a member of the SulP (SLC26A) family, Molecular Membrane Biology, 27, 1, 12-22 10.3109/09687680903400120
2009 Vandeleur,R, Mayo,G, Shelden,M, Gilliham,M, Kaiser,B, Tyerman,S, 2009, The Role of Plasma Membrane Intrinsic Protein Aquaporins in Water Transport through Roots: Diurnal and Drought Stress Responses Reveal Different Strategies between Isohydric and Anisohydric Cultivars of Grapevine, Plant Physiology, 149, 1, 445-460 10.1104/pp.108.128645
2009 Shelden,M, Howitt,S, Kaiser,B, Tyerman,S, 2009, Identification and functional characterisation of aquaporins in the grapevine, Vitis vinifera, Functional Plant Biology, 36, 12, 1065-1078 10.1071/FP09117
2007 Shelden,M, Kaiser,B, Tyerman,S, 2007, Identification and characterisation of aquaporins in the grapevine, Vitis vinifera, PHOTOSYNTHESIS RESEARCH, 91, 2-3, 301-301
2003 Shelden,MC, Loughlin,P, Tierney,ML, Howitt,SM, 2003, Interactions between Charged Amino Acid Residues within Transmembrane Helices in the Sulfate Transporter SHST1 †, Biochemistry, 42, 44, 12941-12949 10.1021/bi034827s
2001 SHELDEN,MC, LOUGHLIN,P, TIERNEY,ML, HOWITT,SM, 2001, Proline residues in two tightly coupled helices of the sulphate transporter, SHST1, are important for sulphate transport, Biochemical Journal, 356, 2, 589-589 10.1042/0264-6021:3560589
2001 Shelden,M, Dong,B, de Bruxelles,G, Trevaskis,B, Whelan,J, Ryan,P, Howitt,S, Udvardi,M, 2001, Arabidopsis ammonium transporters, AtAMT1;1 and AtAMT1;2, have different biochemical properties and functional roles, PLANT AND SOIL, 231, 1, 151-160 10.1023/A:1010303813181
2000 Khurana,O, Coupland,L, Shelden,M, Howitt,S, 2000, Homologous mutations in two diverse sulphate transporters have similar effects, FEBS Letters, 477, 1-2, 118-122 10.1016/S0014-5793(00)01783-X
2000 Shelden,M, Sinclair,R, 2000, Water relations of feral olive trees (Olea europaea) resprouting after severe pruning, Australian Journal of Botany, 48, 5, 639-644 10.1071/BT99048
2000 Sohlenkamp,C, Shelden,M, Howitt,S, Udvardi,M, 2000, Characterization of Arabidopsis AtAMT2, a novel ammonium transporter in plants, FEBS Letters, 467, 2-3, 273-278 10.1016/S0014-5793(00)01153-4

Book Chapters

Date Citation
2009 Tyerman,S, Vandeleur,R, Shelden,M, Tilbrook,J, Mayo,G, Gilliham,M, Kaiser,B, 2009, Water transport and aquaporins in grapevines, Springer, Dordrecht, Netherland, pp. 73-103 10.1007/978-90-481-2305-6_4

Conference Papers

Date Citation
2002 Loughlin,P, Shelden,M, Tierney,M, Howitt,S, 2002, Structure and function of a model member of the SulP transporter family, Meeting of the Cell and Molecular Biology of Membrane Transport Systems and Disorders Conference, COOLANGATTA, AUSTRALIA 10.1385/CBB:36:2-3:183

ARC DECRA Fellow (2014 - 2017) Getting to the root of salt-tolerance in the model cereal crop, barley.

PRIF Catalyst Research Grant: Screening for salt-tolerance in wheat using impedance spectroscopy: A novel technique to reveal performance of the hidden half.

I contribute to teaching in the Masters in Biotechnology course:

  • Regulatory Approval for GM Plants

Current PhD Students

Apriadi Situmorang 

Memberships

Date Role Membership Country
2015 Society of Experimental Biology
1998 Member Australian Society of Plant Scientists
Position
ARC DECRA Fellow
Phone
83136652
Campus
Waite
Building
Plant Research Centre
Room Number
1 88
Org Unit
School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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