Janneke Balk started her independent research group at the University of Cambridge in 2005, and moved to the Norwich Research Park in 2011.
Her position is joint between the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia.
The Balk lab explores the uptake, transport, use and storage of iron within plants and microbes, using genetic and biochemical approaches.
Iron is an essential element for virtually all life forms. Its redox properties make it a versatile catalyst in different enzyme reactions in photosynthesis, respiration, nitrogen fixation and other metabolic pathways.
When iron is limiting in the soil, photosynthesis and nitrogen assimilation are much decreased. However, an excess of free iron inside the cell is toxic, therefore the uptake, use and storage of iron is tightly controlled by regulatory mechanisms.
A better understanding of how plants manage iron could improve plant growth and it could also be exploited to increase iron levels in plant foods, known as biofortification.
Specific topics of interest are:
Maclean E. A., Kimonis V. E., Balk J.Pathogenic mutations in NUBPL affect complex I activity and cold tolerance in the yeast model Yarrowia lipolyticaHuman Molecular GeneticsPublisher's version: 10.1093/hmg/ddy247
Moore K. L., Rodriguez-Ramiro I., Jones E. R., Jones E. J., Rodriguez-Celma J., Halsey K., Domoney C., Shewry P. R., Fairweather-Tait S., Balk J.The stage of seed development influences iron bioavailability in pea (Pisum sativum L.)Scientific Reports (8)Publisher's version: 10.1038/s41598-018-25130-3
Kruse I., Maclean A., Hill L., Balk J.Genetic dissection of cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate biosynthesis in plant mitochondria.Biochemical Journal (475)Publisher's version: 10.1042/BCJ20170559