The European Research Council has awarded a prestigious Consolidator Grant to UvA researcher Christa Testerink.
The grant amounts to a total of 2 million euros for each project and will allow Testerink to position herself as independent research leader. The Consolidator Grant is meant for young researchers who obtained their PhDs between 7 and 12 years ago.
A major gap in our knowledge of how plants respond to soil salinity is their initial perception of sodium (Na+) ions. Salt is detrimental to plants and soil salinisation is an increasing threat to global food security; 6% of the world’s total land area and 20% of irrigated land are affected by salinity.
Testerink recently discovered a Na+-specific growth response of plants, which she will now exploit to identify the elusive sodium sensing mechanism. Her research will reveal how plant responses to salinity stress are driven, and ultimately what is required to cope with salinity. In addition, it will open up new applied directions for agriculture, where improved sodium sensing modules will be used to allow crop growth on marginal, saline soils.