Ecophysiology and molecular genetics of selenium tolerance and accumulation in the selenium hyperaccumulator Neptunia amplexicaulis

Katherine is undertaking her PhD research on Neptunia amplexicaulis, a species native from Queensland known as a selenium  hyperaccumulator. The mechanisms of selenium accumulation and tolerance are not known in detail and the genes involved in this response are also unknown. Therefore, Kathy is studying the molecular genetics and physiology of selenium tolerance and accumulation in this species. Her project involves the study of Neptunia genome as well as the gene profile expression in relation to  selenium localisation in the different tissues compared to its relative, the non-accumulating Neptunia gracilis. 


I hold a bachelor's degree in Biotechnology from the Universidad Andres Bello, Chile, and a Master's degree in Plant Biotechnology from the same institution. I have worked in Plant Science for the last few years, and this is what I am most passionate about. The ability of plants to adapt to different environmental conditions never ceases to surprise me, especially under harsh conditions such as drought, salinity, lack of nutrients, and contaminated soil. I also have been passionate about gene expression profiles and genomics analyses ever since working on my thesis project, and I would like to continue the study of the mineral uptake/transport system, but with a focus on addressing environmental issues related to contaminants in soils. 


The University of Queensland Centennial Scholarship; International Postgraduate Research Scholarship. 


Pinto-Irish, K., Coba de la Peña, T., Ostria-Gallardo, E., Ibáñez, C., Briones, V., Vergara, A., Alvarez, R., Castro, C., Sanhueza, C., Castro, P.A., and Bascuñán-Godoy, L. (2020). “Seed characterization and early nitrogen metabolism performance of seedlings from Altiplano and coastal ecotypes of Quinoa”. BMC Plant Biol,  20: 343. doi:10.1186/s12870-020-02542-w.  

Hevia, M. J., Castro, P., K. Pinto-Irish, M. Reyna-Jeldes, F. Rodríguez-Tirado, C. Robles-Planells, S. Ramírez, J. Madariaga, F. Gutiérrez, J. López, M. Barra, E. De La Fuente-Ortega, G. Bernal, and C. Coddou. (2019). "Differential Effects of Purinergic Signaling in Gastric Cancer-Derived Cells Through P2Y and P2X Receptors". Front Pharmacol., 10: 612. 

Bascuñán-Godoy, L, C. Sanhueza, C.E. Hernández, L. Cifuentes, K. Pinto, R. Álvarez, M. González-Teuber, and L.A. Bravo (2018). "Nitrogen Supply Affects Photosynthesis and Photoprotective Attributes During Drought-Induced Senescence in Quinoa." Front Plant Sci., 9: 994.

Bascunan-Godoy, L., C. Sanhueza, K. Pinto, L. Cifuentes, M. Reguera, V. Briones, A. ZuritaSilva, R. Álvarez, A. Morales, and H. Silva (2018). "Nitrogen physiology of contrasting genotypes of Chenopodium quinoa Willd. (Amaranthaceae)." Sci Rep., 8: 17524.

Reguera, M., C. M. Conesa, A. Gil-Gómez, C.M. Haros, M.A. Pérez-Casas., V. Briones-Labarca, L. Bolaños, I. Bonilla, R. Álvarez, K. Pinto, A. Mujica, and L. Bascuñán-Godoy. (2018). "The impact of different agroecological conditions on the nutritional composition of quinoa seeds." PeerJ, 6: 4442.  


Dr Antony van der EntAssociate Professor Peter Erskine, & CX Chan