Vanessa Melino

Research Scientists

Research Scientist




Food production is being increasingly challenged by salinization and degradation of land and water. Vanessa Melino's research aims to limit the environmental impact of agriculture by understanding plant adaptation to salinity and nutrient stresses. The aims of her research are to:
  1. Domesticate a wild, salt tolerant plant species (Salicornia spp.) as a future seed oil crop
  2. Identify genes and mechanisms enabling Na+ sequestration in halophytes
  3. Identify root phenes and radial transport pathways for nutrient acquisition under stress
  4. Improve nitrogen recycling and remobilization under stress to support plant growth

Selected Publications


  • PhD, Science, Plant Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, The University of Adelaide, Australia, 2009
  • BSc, Biotechnology (Honors), Flinders University, Australia, 2004

Professional Profile

  • 2020-present: Research Scientist, Center for Desert Agriculture, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2018-2020: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Agriculture and Food, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2013-2018: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, The University of Adelaide, Australia
  • 2009-2012: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Rhizobium Studies, Murdoch University, Western Australia, Australia

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Member, Global Soil Partnership (2022)
  • Topic Editor, Special Issue Frontiers in Plant Science: Salinity Tolerance: From Model or Wild Plants to Adapted Crops (2022)
  • Honorary Secretary of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists (2018-2020)
  • Consulting Editor for Plant and Soil (2018-2020)


  • SABIC, Sponsored Research, “Development of methodology for soil testing of Nitrification Inhibitors”, 2022
  • UoM Research Investment Funds, 2019
  • UoM Research Investment Funds, 2019
  • UoA VC’s Academic Women’s Researcher Excellence Award, 2017
  • UoA, School of AFW/TPA pilot study, 2017
  • UoA Early career researcher travel award
  • AW Howard Memorial Trust scholarship, PIRSA, 2010
  • MU, Biological Sciences School Research Fund, 2010
  • University Medal, Flinders University, 2004

Research Interests Keywords

plant physiology plant nutrition salinity tolerance root architecture ion transport nitrogen use efficiency