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Caitlin Byrt

Caitlin’s current research is directed at modifying the function of plant membrane and solute transport mechanisms, and using these mechanisms to improve plant resistance to environmental stress.

Her team is studying plant water channels called aquaporins which function like pores in cell membranes that can be opened and closed to control the flow of solutes throughout the plant, and studying changes in the composition of the apoplast that influence solute flow.

When plants experience osmotic stress and when cells expand during growth they must rapidly adjust water and solute transport across their membranes and aquaporins play key roles in this adjustment. Some aquaporins can transport salt and nutrient ions and Caitlin’s team is using this information to figure out how plants that are salt or drought tolerant control this mechanism to help maintain productivity in challenging environmental conditions.

Caitlin obtained a PhD Plant Science from the University of Adelaide in 2008, and a Bachelor in Agricultural Science (Hons) in 2004 from the same university.