Zinc is an essential micro-nutrient in all biological systems with approximately 10% of proteins in plants requiring zinc for proper function.
When plants can’t get enough zinc from the soil this can have severe biochemical and physiological consequences, resulting in massive crop yield losses and impacts zinc availability in the human diet.
However, excess zinc can be just as harmful. To combat this plants have evolved a tightly coordinated zinc homeostasis network to maintain levels within a narrow concentration range.
While some components of this homeostasis network have been found, there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding how plants sense changing zinc levels and regulate an appropriate response.
Camilla is looking for novel components of the zinc homeostasis network in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana through a genetic screen.
A deeper understanding of how plants regulate zinc levels could help breeders produce crops with improved zinc content in the future, and consequently combat zinc malnutrition in the human population.
Camilla is also interested in exploring zinc dynamics in response to various stimuli by utilising genetically encoded zinc-specific Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) sensors.