Ball (Marilyn) Group - Ecophysiology of salinity and freezing tolerance


The Ball Group studies how physiological adaptations and responses to environmental stresses affect the structure and functioning of plant communities along environmental gradients. Current projects are exploring the role of plant morphology in evolutionary trade-offs between stress tolerance and coordination of hydraulic and photosynthetic activity in leaves. This trade-off has implications for the structure, display and function of leaves that might constrain carbon gain and affect the capacity of evergreen species to respond with growth to climate warming and increasing atmospheric [CO2]. The work is being conducted on mangroves, temperate evergreen sclerophylls, and Antarctic vegetation.



Marilyn Ball

Marilyn Ball
Marilyn Ball received a PhD in Environmental Biology from The Australian National University (1982). She held postdoctoral...

Honours Student

PhD Student

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Assistant

Technical Assistant

Visiting Fellow

Visiting PhD Student


Selected publications

  • Feller IC, CE Lovelock, U Berger, KL McKee, SB Joye and MC Ball (2010) Biocomplexity in mangrove ecosystems. Annual Review of Marine Science 2: 395-417. 
  • Martin KC, D Bruhn, CE Lovelock, IC Feller, JR Evans and MC Ball (2010) Nitrogen fertilisation enhances water use efficiency in a saline environment. Plant, Cell & Environment 33: 344-357. 
  • Sommerville KE, TE Gimeno and MC Ball (2010) Primary nerve (vein) density influences spatial heterogeneity of photosynthetic response to drought in two Acacia species. Functional Plant Biology 37: 840-848. 
  • Lenné T, G Bryant, CH Hocart, CX Huang and MC Ball (2010) Freeze avoidance: a dehydrating moss gathers no ice. Plant, Cell & Environment 33:1731-1741. 
  • Roden JS, MJ Canny, CX Huang and MC Ball (2009) Frost tolerance and ice formation in Pinus radiata needles: ice management by the endodermis and transfusion tissues. Functional Plant Biology 36: 180-189. 
  • Lovelock CE, MC Ball, KC Martin and IC Feller (2009) Nutrient enrichment increases mortality of mangroves. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5600. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005600. 
  • Stuart SA, B Choat, KC Martin, NM Holbrook and MC Ball (2007) The role of freezing in setting the latitudinal limits of mangrove forests. New Phytologist 173: 576-583. 
  • Medek DE, MC Ball and M Schortemeyer (2007) The relative contributions of leaf area ratio and net assimilation rate to change in growth rate depend on temperature: comparative analysis of subantarctic and alpine grasses. New Phytologist 175: 290-300. 
  • Lovelock CE, MC Ball, B Choat, BMJ Engelbrecht, NM Holbrook and IC Feller (2006) Linking physiological processes with mangrove forest structure: Phosphorus deficiency limits canopy development, hydraulic conductance and photosynthetic carbon gain in dwarf Rhizophora mangle. Plant, Cell and Environment 29: 793-802. 
  • Ball MC, MJ Canny, CX Huang, JJG Egerton and J Wolfe (2006) Freeze-induced embolism depends on nadir temperature: the heterogeneous hydration hypothesis. Plant Cell & Environment 29: 729-745. 
  • Loveys BR, JJG Egerton and MC Ball (2006) Higher daytime leaf temperatures contribute to lower freeze tolerance under elevated CO2. Plant, Cell & Environment. 29: 1077-1086. 

All publications

News & events


There is increasing evidence that plants supplement water obtained by roots with atmospheric water absorbed by the shoots.  Such use of multiple water sources may be particularly critical to survival and productivity of plants in water-limited environments. This includes plants such as mangroves in which high salinity limits access to soil water, despite growing in flooded habitats. 
Unusual portraits of RSB members Marilyn Ball and Jack Egerton are part of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, entitled 'So Fine: Contemporary women artists make Australian History'.
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Ball Group members and collaborators were awarded an ARC Discovery Grant (DP18), announced November 2017.
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The Australian National University (ANU) has won $24 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for 58 research projects across the University. 


Updated:  14 October 2019/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB