Vanessa Melino

Research Scientists

Research Scientist




Research Interests

Roots are the first plant organ to sense and respond to changes in both beneficial and toxic ions. I am interested in furthering my understanding of root phenes by discovering the underlying genetic control of early root architecture responses to salt stress. I am now moving towards exploring the secrets of salt tolerance held in both wild relatives of our food crops and plant species which are yet to be domesticated.

Selected Publications

  • Plett, D.C., Ranathunge, K., Melino, V.J., Kuya N., Uga, Y. and Kronzucker, H.J. (2020) The intersection of nitrogen nutrition and water use in plants: Understanding new paths toward improved crop productivity under changing climate conditions. Journal of Experimental Botany.
  • Swift, R., Denton, D.M. and Melino, V.J. (2019) Plant probiotics for nutrient acquisition by agriculturally important grasses: a comprehensive review of the science and the application. Annual Plant Reviews Online.
  • Casartelli, A., Melino, V.J, Baumann, U., Roessner, U., Pitman, M., Riboni, R., Jayasinghe, N.S., Suchecki, R., Okamoto, M. and Heuer, S. (2019) Opposite fates of the purine metabolite allantoin under water and nitrogen restrictions in bread wheat, Plant Molecular Biology.
  • Melino, V.J., Casartelli, A., George, J., Rupasinghe, T., Roessner, U., Okamoto, M. and Heuer, S. (2018) RNA catabolites contribute to the nitrogen pool and support growth recovery of wheat, Frontiers in Plant Science, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01539.
  • Melino VJ, Fiene G, Enju A, Cai J, Buchner P, Heuer S (2015) Genetic diversity for root plasticity and nitrogen uptake in wheat seedlings, Functional Plant Biology, 42 (10).


  • 2005- 2009 Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, (Ph.D.) in Science, Plant Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, The University of Adelaide
  • 2001- 2004   Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours), Flinders University

Professional Profile

  • 2020- present Research Scientist, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Center for Desert Agriculture KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2018 - 2019 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Agriculture and Food, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2013 - 2018 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  • 2009 - 2012 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Rhizobium Studies, Murdoch University, Western Australia, Australia

KAUST Affiliations

Prof. Mark Tester's Group

CDA - Center for Desert Agriculture

BESE - Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division

Research Interests Keywords

Plant physiology Plant nutrition Salinity tolerance Root architecture Ion transport