A researcher studying salt-stress in plants at the cellular level has been awarded a chancellor's medal by Southern Cross University.
Dr Qi Guo conducted her work at the Lismore-based plant science department, identifying changes in membrane lipids in salt-tolerant plants.
Working on Mesembryanthemum crystallinium - or the South African ice plant - she peeled back the layers to take tiny tissue specimens and used innovative membrane isolation technology with proteomic mass spectrometry to investigate changes in proteins and lipids in leaf tissue.
Read more: North Star cropping country up for sale.
Read more: John Carter comments on renewable energy.
The build-up of salt in soil, known as soil salinization, is a serious land degradation issue worldwide, limiting the productivity of crops. Too much salt causes toxicity and osmotic stress to the plants, limiting their ability to take up water and nutrients.
Understanding the tolerance mechanisms employed by halophytes (salt-tolerant plants growing in soil or waters of high salinity) is of great value for ultimately identifying biomarkers for salt-tolerant crop breeding.
"The first thing we need to do is understand the molecular mechanisms of plant salt tolerance, which is why we chose to use a salt-tolerant plant, commonly known as ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum), a plant native to South Africa but naturalised in Australia," said Dr Guo.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.