Vanessa Melino

Research Scientists

Research Scientist



Research Interests

Globally, 70% of freshwater is used for agriculture. Considering that in many regions the rates of groundwater depletion exceed rates of replenishment, we must look to alternative sources of water for future cropping. Intensive agriculture has also led to the erosion of some nutrients and organic matter and contributed to the pollution of ecosystems. The combined lack of freshwater and salinized and nutrient-deplete soils has encouraged me to focus on plant adaptation to these stresses.

Vanessa Melino's research has three main tiers:

  1. Identifying genes and mechanisms of salinity tolerance in the halophyte Salicornia sp.
  2. Identifying root phenes and radial transport pathways for nutrient acquisition in cereal crops
  3. Improving nitrogen recycling and remobilization under stress

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

  • Co-Editor of Special Issue in Frontiers in Plant Science (Current)
  • Consulting Editor for Plant and Soil (Current)
  • Honorary Secretary of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists (2019)


  • 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