Dr Janneke Balk

Project Leader
Biological Chemistry

The research of our group is focussed on the role of metals, in particular iron, in plants and microbes. 

We aim to understand how iron cofactors are assembled in different cell compartments, using model plant species and yeasts. Ultimately, the iron that plants take up from the soil and use for their own needs is an important source of human iron nutrition.

Iron is a versatile catalyst associated with proteins in the form of iron-sulfur clusters, haem or other forms. Iron-sulfur proteins are abundant in plants, playing key roles in photosynthesis, respiration and nitrogen fixation. We have so far catalogued more than 100 confirmed and putative Fe-S proteins encoded in the Arabidopsis genome, underpinning virtually every aspect of photo-autotrophic growth. 

Our research in the past few years has led to the identification of new proteins required for iron-sulfur cluster assembly and established the interrelationship between cofactor assembly pathways in the cell.


In February 2015, Janneke presented at the launch of the Global Panel Biofortification Policy Brief hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (APPG). Find out more and see the presentation here.

Pumping Iron – Biofortified wheat produces white flour with extra iron

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Blog: Janneke Balk shadows MEP Vicky Ford at the European Parliament

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Four billion-year-old chemistry in cells today

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Recent Publications

Connorton J. M., Jones E. R., Rodriguez-Ramiro I., Fairweather-Tait S., Uauy C., Balk J. (2017)

Vacuolar Iron Transporter TaVIT2 transports Fe and Mn and is effective for biofortification.

Plant Physiology TBC pTBC

Publisher’s version: 10.1104/pp.17.00672

Connorton J. M., Balk J., Rodríguez-Celma J. (2017)

Iron homeostasis in plants - a brief overview.

Metallomics : integrated biometal science TBC pTBC

Publisher’s version: 10.1039/c7mt00136c

Bastow E. L., Bych K., Crack J. C., Le Brun N., Balk J. (2016)

NBP35 interacts with DRE2 in the maturation of cytosolic iron-sulfur proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Plant Journal 89 p590-600

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/tpj.13409

Schaedler T. A., Faust B., Shintre C. A., Carpenter E. P., Srinivasan V., van Veen H. W., Balk J. (2015)

Structures and functions of mitochondrial ABC transporters.

Biochemical Society Transactions 43 p943-51

Publisher’s version: 10.1042/BST20150118

Ozer H. K., Dlouhy A. C., Thornton J. D., Hu J., Liu Y., Barycki J. J., Balk J., Outten C. E. (2015)

Cytosolic Fe-S Cluster Protein Maturation and Iron Regulation Are Independent of the Mitochondrial Erv1/Mia40 Import System.

Journal of Biological Chemistry 290 p2782927840

Publisher’s version: 10.1074/jbc.M115.682179

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Janneke Balk

  • Dr Rob Green Research Assistant
  • Dr James Connorton Research Assistant
  • Dr Eleanor Jones Research Assistant
  • Jorge Rodriguez-Celma Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Inga Kruse Lab Attendant
  • Jennifer Walton Postgraduate Student
  • Andrew MacLean Postgraduate Student


For media enquiries, please contact the JIC communications team 01603 450962, jic.communications@jic.ac.uk

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