Florence Danila

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Sciences; Australian National University (2014-2019). 
  • Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology; University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Laguna (2008-2013).
  • Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology; University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City (2003-2007)

Collegiality and Collaboration

  • 2019-present: Florence joined the C4 Rice Project as a postdoctoral/research fellow at the Australian National University, where she works in collaboration with members of the consortium from different leading universities and institutions around the world including Professor Jane Langdale and Dr. Steve Kelly (University of Oxford, United Kingdom), Professor Julian Hibberd (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom), Professor Mark Stitt and Dr. John Lunn (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany), Professor Alain Tissier (Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, Germany), Professor Su-May Yu (Academia Sinica, Taiwan), and Professor Asaph Cousins and Professor Gerry Edwards (Washington State University, United States). Her work involves the generation and screening of transgenic rice population with the aim of creating a C4 rice prototype, a rice plant operating a C4-like photosynthetic pathway.
  • 2019-2020: Florence led a project demonstrating the importance of suberin in C4 photosynthesis together with colleagues from the Australian National University, Australia, International Rice Research Institute, Philippines and University of Hyderabad, India. Within the same year, Florence worked with colleagues, Dr. Victoria Clarke and Professor Susanne von Caemmerer, from the Realising Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) Project to investigate the relationship between leaf mesophyll conductance and leaf anatomy in tobacco plants.
  • 2014-2019: Florence went to Australia to start her PhD at the Australian National University under the supervision of Professor Susanne von Caemmerer (Australian National University, Australia), Professor Robert Furbank and Dr. Rosemary White (CSIRO, Black Mountain, Australia), and Professor Paul Quick (International Rice Research Institute, Philippines).
  • 2009-2016: Florence continued to work as part of the C4 Rice Project with Professor Paul Quick at the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines for another seven years. Her work with Paul involved the analysis of protein expression level and cellular localization in transgenic rice.
  • 2007-2009: Florence worked with Dr. John Sheehy (International Rice Research Institute, Philippines) for two years. Her work with John involved the supervision of 60 casual workers and generation of 600,000-mutant population of sorghum in five hectares of field. The mutant lines generated were used for high-throughput leaf anatomy screening to select for decreased vein density phenotype and candidate genes.

Research interests

Breakthrough Contributions to Research:

  1. Contributed a new approach to quantifying plasmodesmata density: Florence established a novel way to quantify plasmodesmata density on cell interfaces in leaves without resorting to serial sectioning by combining scanning electron microscopy with three-dimensional immunofluorescence based on PEA-CLARITY.
  2. Characterised plasmodesmata density in C3 and C4 grasses to determine an estimate of plasmodesmata contribution to solute flux in leaves: Florence generated the first comprehensive dataset of plasmodesmata densities and important anatomical parameters in a wide selection of C3 and C4 grasses and showed that C4 leaves have up to 10 times more plasmodesmata at the mesophyll-bundle sheath cell interface than C3 leaves. These quantitative values also provided estimates of plasmodesmata flux in C4 leaves, demonstrating the importance of high plasmodesmata density in the evolution of C4 photosynthesis.
  3. Determined how different light conditions influence plasmodesmata development: Florence investigated the effect of different growth light environments on plasmodesmata development in leaves of C4 grasses and found that formation of plasmodesmata between mesophyll and bundle sheath cells is light-dependent.
  4. Assessed cell type-specific plasmodesmata development: Florence evaluated the effect of perturbing C4 metabolism on plasmodesmata development in a C4 leaf, a research project she did together with her colleagues from the ARC centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis (photosynthesis.org.au). She showed that down-regulation of PEP carboxylase in mesophyll cells results to increased formation of plasmodesmata between the mesophyll and bundle sheath cells in Setaria viridis leaf, an NADP-ME C4 model species.
  5. Developed a method to quantify suberin in bundle sheath cells to determine the association between suberin deposition and bundle sheath development in C4 leaves: Florence researched the importance of suberin lamellae surrounding the bundle sheath cell in C4 photosynthesis in collaboration with her colleagues from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis and the International Rice Research Institute (www.irri.org). She developed a suberin staining method, and optimized an aliphatic suberin isolation protocol for gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis using isolated bundle sheath strands, leaf and root tissues. This piece of work provided the first experimental evidence that bundle sheath suberisation is an anatomical requirement for C4 photosynthesis that restricts the leakage of CO2 out of the bundle sheath.
  6. Contributed to research related to the C4 Rice Project: Florence has been involved with research related to the C4 Rice Project since its inception in 2009. Due to her valuable contributions to the project, she has been part of numerous publications. During her time at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), she generated sorghum mutant population for leaf vein density high-throughput screen to identify C4 leaf anatomy gene/s. At IRRI then and ANU now, she has been involved in the molecular and physiological analysis of transgenic rice lines including protein level analysis, in situ protein localization and gas exchange measurements. All these works, including Florence’s plasmodesmata research in C4 grasses, have contributed to the advances and progress of the C4 Rice Project.

Peer-reviewed research papers:

Chen L., Ganguly D.R., Shafik S.H., Danila F.R., Grof C.P.L., Sharwood R.E., and Furbank R.T. The role of SWEET4 proteins in the post-phloem sugar transport pathway of Setaria viridis sink tissues. Journal of Experimental Botany 74(10): 2968-2986 (2023).

Danila F.R., Schreiber T., Ermakova M., Hua L., Vlad D., Lo S-F., Chen Y-S., Lambrett Frotte J., Hermanns A., Athmer B., von Caemmerer S., Yu S-M., Hibberd J., Tissier A., Furbank R.T., Kelly S., and Langdale J. A single promoter-TALE system for tissue-specific and tuneable expression of multiple genes in rice. Plant Biotechnology Journal 20(9): 1786-1806 (2022).

Fan Y., Scafaro A.P., Asao S., Furbank R.T., Agostino A., Day D.A., von Caemmerer S., Danila F.R., Rug M., Webb D., Lee J., and Atkin O.K. Dark respiration rates are not determined by differences in mitochondrial capacity, abundance and ultrastructure in C4 leaves. Plant, Cell & Environment 45(4): 1257-1269 (2022).

Danila F.R., Thakur V., Chatterjee J., Bala S., Coe R.A., Acebron K., Furbank R.T., von Caemmerer S., and Quick W.P. Bundle sheath suberisation is required for C4 photosynthesis in a Setaria viridis mutant. Communications Biology 4, 254 (2021).

Chatterjee J., Coe R.A., Acebron K., Thakur V., Yennamalli R.A., Danila F.R., Lin H-C., Balahadia C.P., Bagunu E., Padhmapreiya P.O.S., Bala S., Yin X., Rizal G., Dionora J., Furbank R., von Caemmerer S., and Quick W.P. A low CO2 responsive mutant of Setaria viridis reveals that reduced carbonic anhydrase limits C4 photosynthesis. Journal of Experimental Botany 72(8): 3122-3136 (2021).

Clarke V., Danila F.R., and von Caemmerer S. CO2 diffusion in tobacco: a link between mesophyll conductance and leaf anatomy. Interface Focus 11, 20200040 (2021).

Ermakova M., Arrivault S., Giuliani R., Danila F.R., Alonso-Cantabrana H., Vlad D., Ishihara H., Feil R., Guenther M., Borghi G.L., Covshoff S., Ludwig M., Cousins A.B., Langdale J.A., Kelly S., Lunn J., Stitt M., von Caemmerer S., and Furbank R.T. Installation of C4 photosynthetic pathway enzymes in rice using a single construct. Plant Biotechnology Journal 19(3): 575-588 (2021).

Danila F.R., Quick W.P., White R.G., von Caemmerer S., and Furbank R.T. Response of plasmodesmata formation in leaves of C4 grasses to growth irradiance. Plant, Cell & Environment 42(8): 2482-2494 (2019). IF: 6.362, 12 citations Google Scholar.

Alonso-Cantabrana H., Cousins A.B., Danila F.R., Ryan T., Sharwood R.E., von Caemmerer S., and Furbank R.T. Diffusion of CO2 across the mesophyll-bundle sheath cell interface in a C4 plant with genetically reduced PEP carboxylase activity. Plant Physiology 178(1): 72-81 (2018).

Danila F.R., Quick W.P., White R.G., Kelly S., von Caemmerer S., and Furbank R.T. Multiple mechanisms for enhanced plasmodesmata density in disparate subtypes of C4 grasses. Journal of Experimental Botany 69(5): 1135-1145 (2018).

Danila F.R., Quick W.P., White R.G., Furbank R.T., and von Caemmerer S. The metabolite pathway between bundle sheath and mesophyll: quantification of plasmodesmata in leaves of C3 and C4 monocots. The Plant Cell 28(6): 1461-1471 (2016).

Lin H., Karki S., Coe R.A., Bagha S., Khoshravesh R., Balahadia C.P., Sagun J.V., Tapia R., Israel W.K., Montecillo F., de Luna A., Danila F.R., Lazaro A., Realubit C.M., Acoba M.G., Sage T.L., von Caemmerer S., Furbank R.T., Cousins A.B., Hibberd J.M., Quick, W.P., and Covshoff S. Targeted Knockdown of GDCH in Rice Leads to a Photorespiratory-Deficient Phenotype Useful as a Building Block for C4 Rice. Plant and Cell Physiology 57(5): 919-932 (2016).

Rizal G., Thakur V., Dionora J., Karki S., Wanchana S., Acebron K., Larazo N., Garcia R., Mabilangan A., Montecillo F., Danila F.R., Mogul R., Pablico P., Leung H., Langdale J.A., Sheehy J., Kelly S., and Quick W.P. Two forward genetic screens for vein density mutants in sorghum converge on a cytochrome P450 gene in the brassinosteroid pathway. The Plant Journal 84(2): 257-266 (2015).


Peer-reviewed reviews or commentaries:

Ermakova M., Danila F.R., Furbank R.T., and von Caemmerer S. On the road to C4 rice: advances and perspectives. The Plant Journal 101(4): 940-950 (2020).

Lu K.-J., Danila F.R., Cho Y., and Faulkner C. Peeking at a plant through the holes in the wall – exploring the roles of plasmodesmata. New Phytologist 218(4): 1310-1314 (2018).

Kajala K., Covshoff S., Karki S., Woodfield H., Tolley B.J., Dionora M.J.A., Mogul R.T., Mabilangan A.E., Danila F.R., Hibberd J.M., and Quick W.P. Strategies for engineering a two-celled C4 photosynthetic pathway into rice. Journal of Experimental Botany 62(9): 3001-3010 (2011).Sheehy J.E., Gunawardana D., Ferrer A.B.,

Danila F.R., Tan K.G., and Mitchell P.L. Systems biology or the biology of systems: routes to reducing hunger. New Phytologist 179(3): 579-582 (2008).



Karki S., Lin H., Danila F.R., Abu-Jamous B., Guiliani R., Emms D.M., Coe R.A., Covshoff S., Woodfield H., Bagunu E., Thakur V., Wanchana S., Slamet-Loedin I., Cousins A.B., Hibberd J.M., Kelly S., and Quick W.P. A role for neutral variation in the evolution of C4 photosynthesis. bioRxiv preprint https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.19.104299 (2020).


Book chapter:

Danila, F.R. Measuring plasmodesmata density on cell interfaces of monocot leaves using 3D immunolocalisation and scanning electron microscopy. In: Benitez-Alfonso Y. and Heinlein M., editors. Plasmodesmata, Methods and Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology Series. Springer Nature: 125-142 (2022).

BIOL3177 Advances in Molecular Plant Science

BIOL8702 Advanced Research Techniques

BIOL2115 Comparative Physiology

Supervised students