Plant Molecular Biology

The University of Western Australia

As global populations increase food production must increase to meet the new demand, but as the planet continues to warm, once fertile and productive regions will become increasingly dry and arid, becoming unsuitable for agriculture. Enhancing photosynthesis in plants is one way to boost yields in essential food crops and offering a significant contribution towards satisfying an increasing global demand for food.
The principle aim of Dr Tanz’s research is to investigate the inner cell structure in plants that are especially adapted to thrive in hot and dry environments, known as C4 plants. This will help further our understanding of the mechanisms involved in photosynthesis. These plants typically produce 50% more biomass and at a much faster rate than other plants, known as C3 plants. However, many staple global food crops, such as rice and wheat, use the C3 photosynthetic system. The ultimate aim of her research is to embed C4 photosynthetic traits into C3 crops, which could significantly boost staple food crop production around the globe.

Sandra participates in several outreach activities, including the National Youth Science Forum and the Science Experience Workshop for year 10-12 students. She has also written about her research in online articles and printed magazines.