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Professor and Director, Metabolic Biology, John Innes Centre

Professor Dale Sanders’ research studies how plant cells respond to changes in their environment and how they store the nutrients they acquire. He is a leading authority on the mechanisms for the transport of chemical elements across cell membranes in plants. These mechanisms have key roles in the control of crucial crop traits such as nutritional value of foods, seed germination, the response to drought conditions and how plants cope with toxic compounds in the soil. Work in his laboratory on the characterisation of novel cation diffusion facilitators in Arabidopsis and cereals involved in the transport of zinc is identifying a bio-fortification strategy to enrich the endosperm in this heavy metal. Zinc deficiency is thought to impact on 30% of the world’s population, due in part, to the near absence of the metal in cereal endosperm. Prof Sanders also works on the fundamental science of the specialised plant transport mechanisms involved in signalling which have important, but poorly understood roles in plant biology. Professor Sanders has authored over 140 scientific papers, many of which have been highly cited and in 2001 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and awarded the European Science Prize of the Körber Foundation.


  • –present
    Professor and Director, Metabolic Biology, John Innes Centre