Associate Professor Andy Leigh ‘How do Plants ‘do’ Heat Stress? Further Lessons from the Australian Desert

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Thursday, 2 May 2019 - 12:30pm

Andy, from the University of Technology Sydney, will explore what factors determine whether high temperatures become stressful to plants.  Does water stress make a difference; is thermal tolerance static or fluctuates; and over what time scale?


Predictions about plant performance or survival under a given climate scenario are based on air temperature, but is that the temperature plants actually reach?  What factors determine whether high temperatures become stressful to plants?  Does water stress make a difference?  And is plant thermal tolerance static or does it fluctuate?  Over what time scale?  These questions will be addressed in this third presentation to the Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, which will highlight our recent research findings on Australian desert plants.


Associate Professor Andy Leigh is a researcher in plant ecology at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), where she is currently the Head of School of Life Sciences. Her primary research focus is on how plants cope with extreme high temperatures, particularly in Australia’s semi-arid and arid regions.  In 2013, Andy established a partnership with the Friends of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens (AALBG) and the Port Augusta City Council to carry out research at the AALBG.  Through this collaborative partnership, the UTS Research Facility was established on site, where researchers from Andy’s lab group have been investigating how different plant species respond to heat stress.  Andy’s other areas of research include mistletoes, animal-plant interactions and leaf structure.  She also teaches undergraduate ecology, running field trips of >3,000 km to enable students to learn about the Australian landscape first-hand.