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.

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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

Mangroves remember droughts — this could be bad news for our coastlines

Story | Wednesday 22 November 2023
The remarkable ability of mangrove forests to remember recent droughts could leave them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

I spent a year squeezing leaves to measure their water content. Here's what I learned

Story | Tuesday 26 July 2022
How do you tell if your plants need water? Recently, I asked this question of a group of about 40 biologists at the Australian National University.

RSB Portraits in National Portrait Gallery

Story | Monday 2 July 2018
Unusual portraits of RSB members Marilyn Ball and Jack Egerton were part of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, entitled 'So Fine: Contemporary women artists make Australian History'. The portraits are part of a group of six sculptures made of bones, skins, furs, fabrics and other natural materials.

ARC grant success

Story | Friday 10 November 2017
The Australian National University (ANU) has won $24 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for 58 research projects across the University. 
Plant diversity field trip at ANU

Video: Field trip to Kioloa

Story | Thursday 20 October 2016
Plant diversity field trip at ANU.

ARC Discovery projects and DECRA fellowships

Story | Monday 17 November 2014

The leaky pipe of female academia

Story | Thursday 2 August 2012
Researchers from RSB created a mathematical model to test the ‘leaky pipe’ of academia, and determine what level of female academic representation we should expect to see.

PS PhD Exit Seminar - Tender freaks: Exploring resilience to global change among fringe-dwelling forest species.

Event | Fri 9 June 2023
Global climate change is challenging many forested ecosystems with drought, mean temperature increases, heat waves, and biotic agent outbreaks.

PS Seminar Series- PhD Exit seminar - The role of plant water relations in the maintenance of hydraulic function in mangroves

Event | Fri 3 February 2023
Mangroves provide critical ecosystem services from protection of coastlines and coastal communities, to their role as a carbon sink.