Dr Stephanie Watts-Williams
I enjoy conducting research on the plant-fungal symbiosis known as arbuscular mycorrhizas, especially investigating how they can improve plant zinc and phosphorus nutrition on nutrient-depleted soils. I am particularly interested in the potential agricultural applications of arbuscular mycorrhizas, and use important crops as model species in my research.
I am currently a independent Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Adelaide.
My current research at The University of Adelaide and the Waite Research Institute involves understanding how the mycorrhizal pathway of Zn uptake functions – a problem I began working on during my PhD. Although we have a fundamental understanding of how plants acquire phosphate (Pi) via symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi, very little research has been conducted to uncover the mechanisms (genes, transporters) that underlie the transport of Zn from fungi to plant, presumably across the peri-arbuscular membrane. We have shown through radioisotope tracking that plants can acquire Zn via the mycorrhizal pathway (see below), so the next step will be to uncover the genes that regulate this process. To do this, I am using barley as a model plant species, due to its relevance to Australian agriculture. In some experiments I also use Medicago truncatula, an important pasture legume in Australia. I work in collaboration with, and am housed within the labs and greenhouses of: A/Prof Tim Cavagnaro – a soil ecologist, and Prof Steve Tyerman – a plant physiologist.
Here is a recent article on the research I am undertaking to discover the molecular mechanisms behind plant Zn uptake via the mycorrhizal pathway.
|2016||Ramsay Fellow||University of Adelaide, Adelaide|
|2015 - 2016||Postdoctoral Research Associate||Cornell University, Ithaca|
|2011 - 2014||Monash University, Melbourne||Australia||Doctor of Philosophy|
|2007 - 2011||Monash University, Melbourne||Australia||Bachelor of Environmental Science (Hons)|
I am currently (Semester 1, 2017) a mentor for a Foundations in plant Science Small Group Discovery Experience group that is examining the effect of soil phosphorus fertiliser and lime addition on the growth of barley.