Dr. Salma Balazadeh
BiographySalma Balazadeh studied biology and obtained her MSc degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Tehran, Iran, in 2004. In 2008, she completed her PhD with a Dr. rer. nat. degree in Molecular Plant Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) and the University of Potsdam, Germany. Afterwards, she continued as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant and from 2010 until November 2016 she headed the Cooperative Research Group “Gene Regulatory Networks” at the MPI-MP. In 2016, Dr. Salma Balazadeh obtained her habilitation degree in Molecular Plant Physiology (Dr. rer. nat. habil.) from the University of Potsdam, Faculty of Science. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of Molecular Plant Biology at Leiden University, the Netherlands, and a Research Group Leader at the MPI-MP. Her research focuses on understanding the signaling mechanisms in plants that trigger responses to environmental stresses and on unravelling the cellular processes through which plants counteract such stresses. Prof. Balazadeh has published over 50 refereed papers in international journals, work which has attracted the following citation statistics: Google Scholar indices (May 2019): h-index = 26; total citations = 2621.
Unraveling stress response networks in plants: from gene regulatory grids to proteome control circuitsAbiotic stresses such as drought and high temperature cause adverse effects on plant growth, development and productivity. Plants cannot leave their location and therefore, to survive over a longer period of time, they need to establish robust, but still flexible response circuits to cope with stress. However, the regulatory mechanisms by which plants integrate stress-derived signals into the growth and developmental program are largely unknown. Our lab studies the regulatory mechanisms, both at the gene expression and protein quality control levels, by which plants respond to stresses. During my talk I will introduce transcription factors (TFs) and gene regulatory networks (GRNs) involved in the adaptation of plant growth to environmental changes by giving an example about the function of a NAC transcription factor, JUNGBRUNNEN1, in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato. Furthermore, I will highlight our recent findings on the role of heat shock proteins and autophagy in the regulation of plant response to fluctuating stress conditions such as high temperature.