School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
Megan is a Senior Lecturer at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide. She gained her PhD in Plant Biology at The University of Adelaide and is a previous recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.
Her research is focussed on improving crop yields in hostile soils (salinity, drought) and enhancing food security. 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 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.
Megan has been an active member of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists serving on the committee as a discipline representative for the past four years. She is active in promoting STEM to the wider community through events such as National Science Week and is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion. She hopes to inspire the next generation of plant and agricultural scientists through her teaching at the University of Adelaide.
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
Ms Hitasha Singh
Ms Ying Meng (co-supervisor)
Dr Apriadi Situmorang
Megan’s research interest is focussed on understanding environmental stress tolerance mechanisms in agricultural crops. 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.
Megan's research is aimed at understanding the mechanisms that allow crop root systems to adapt to salinity and drought, thereby maintaining root growth and increasing soil exploration for nutrient and water uptake. Her current research aims to identify the molecular mechanisms that control and regulate root adaptation in response to salinity using barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) as a cereal model. This research will allow the identification of root traits that can be incorporated into breeding programs to develop higher-yielding salt-tolerant crops.
Megan is also using grapevine as a model system to understand salt and water movement through plant systems; from the root to shoot. She aims to answer the question of how salt moves across the different tissues and major organs, how salt accumulates in root, leaf and shoot cells, and how movement and accumulation is controlled by the diversity of transport mechanisms operating in plants. This will be incorporated into biophysical models, to quantify the movement of salt through plant organs, tissues and cells, from root to leaf.
Date Position Institution name 2022 - ongoing Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide 2020 - 2021 Lecturer The University of Adelaide 2019 - 2020 Research Fellow The University of Adelaide 2014 - 2019 ARC DECRA Fellow University of Adelaide 2009 - 2013 Research Fellow University of Melbourne 2007 - 2009 Postdoctoral Fellow Australian National University
Date Institution name Country Title 2008 University of Adelaide Australia PhD 1994 - 1997 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Year Citation 2002 Loughlin, P., Shelden, M., Tierney, M., & Howitt, S. (2002). Structure and function of a model member of the SulP transporter family. In Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics Vol. 36 (pp. 183-190). COOLANGATTA, AUSTRALIA: HUMANA PRESS INC.
DOI Scopus14 WoS13 Europe PMC9
ARC Discovery Project (2022 - 2024); Finding the missing links in salt and water transport in plants.
ARC Discovery Project (2020 - 2022); Root-to-shoot: modeling the salt stress response of a plant vascular system.
ARC DECRA Fellow (2014 - 2017); Getting to the root of salt-tolerance in the model cereal crop, barley.
PRIF Catalyst Research Grant (2015 - 2016); Screening for salt-tolerance in wheat using impedance spectroscopy: A novel technique to reveal performance of the hidden half.
I contribute to teaching in:
Foundations in Plant Science II
Viticulture II /A
Horticulture, Production and Quality III
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2021 Principal Supervisor Characterising the Salt Stress Response in Grapevines Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Hitasha Singh 2017 Co-Supervisor The role of Plant GABA under stress Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Ying Meng
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Elucidation of the Ammonium Major Facilitator (AMF) Family in Plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Apriadi Situmorang
Date Role Committee Institution Country 2017 - 2019 Representative Australian Society of Plant Scientists Executive Discipline Cell Biology Australia
Date Role Membership Country 2015 - ongoing Society of Experimental Biology 1998 - ongoing Member Australian Society of Plant Scientists
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