ICGEB Plant Systems Biology Group Leader joins Cape Town

Dr. Lara Donaldson has joined ICGEB Cape Town  as Group Leader to head the “Plant Systems Biology” laboratory.

Dr. Donaldson arrives at ICGEB Cape Town following a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the  University of Cape Town (UCT) South Africa, postdoctoral training at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia and a South Africa National Research Foundation Research Career Fellowship at UCT. Prior to joining ICGEB, Dr Donaldson was a Principal Research Scientist at Roche Sequencing Solutions  in Cape Town, South Africa.

Her research focus lies in understanding how plants sense, signal, respond and adapt to their environment. Dr. Donaldson’s particular interest is in investigating how plants respond differently to the ion-dependent and osmotic components of salinity stress. Her group has found that plants grown under saline conditions have higher auxin levels than plants grown under osmotic stress conditions. Currently her group is investigating how plants regulate auxin biosynthesis in response to salt and the mechanism by which elevated auxin levels could allow plants to better tolerate salinity stress.

Parallel to her Group’s research, Dr Donaldson is involved in ICGEB’s inter-component collaborative projects that aim to understand the microbiome of crop plants like sorghum in order to identify bacteria that promote growth and abiotic stress tolerance.

Dr Donaldson commenced operations at the Cape Town Component on the 1st of March this year, and the ICGEB is delighted to have her as part of the international scientific faculty of the Organisation.