Dr Crystal Sweetman

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Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Interests

My primary research interest is plant environmental stress tolerance in the context of food security and sustainability, with a focus on oxidative stress and mitochondrial respiration. As plants are sessile, they must be able to continue normal growth and development under potentially harsh environmental conditions. Plant cell metabolism is therefore tightly regulated and responsive to internal end external stimuli. For example, the exposure of a cereal crop to extreme heat or salinity can lead to dramatic changes in leaf, root and flowering physiology, as well as cellular-level changes in ion transport and primary respiratory pathways.

Cellular homeostasis is also altered during plant growth and development. For example, the initiation of ripening in a grape berry is characterised by a series of biochemical and physiological changes, including changes in hormone levels, accumulation of water and sugars, loss of organic acids, as well as cell wall softening and accumulation of pigments. 

All of these changes are brought about through altered cellular metabolic activities, enabling appropriate growth and development for passing genetic material to the next generation, and enabling endurance during tough conditions. However there is a limit to the stress that a plant can endure. Altering the way that these pathways respond to internal and external stimuli could enhance plant performance during harsh conditions, and improve plant growth and development in the face of global food shortages.

Completed Supervisions

Associate Supervisions:
  • Darren Chern Jan Wong. Completed. Field of plant biotechnology, gene expression and bioinformatics. (University of Adelaide)


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Medical biosciences

Supervisory Interests

  • Food security
  • Improving crop growth
  • Plant stress markers
  • Plant respiration
  • Plant metabolism and stress
  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry and molecular biology


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