Towards a solution for hidden hunger: folate biofortification of crop plants.

– Dominique Van Der Straeten –

Dominique Van Der Straeten is a senior full professor at Ghent University, and research director of the Laboratory of Functional Plant Biology ( With a fellowship of the British Council, she conducted pre-doctoral research at the University of Reading (UK), under supervision of Prof. J.B. Harborne. She was awarded a PhD fellowship from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) to start her doctoral thesis at Harvard University (Boston, MA, USA) under the guidance of Prof. H.M. Goodman (Oct 1985-Dec 1986), continued at Ghent University in the laboratory of Prof. M. Van Montagu. For her PhD on ACC synthases, Dominique was awarded the Soenen Prize for Plant Breeding and nominated Laureate of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts of Belgium in 1991. Shortly before earning her PhD degree in July 1990, she initiated research on remote imaging of plant stress. In this context, she conducted a short post-doctoral stay at the University of Utrecht (NL) with Prof. H. Lambers, and was a pioneer on remote detection of plant disease and nutrient stress using multispectral imaging. Dynamic visualization of biological phenomena remained a fascination which she kept carrying along. She further expanded the ethylene research to signal crosstalk with other hormones and light. Last but not least, while being a fundamental scientist at heart, she initiated research on biofortification of crop plants in 2003, driven by the aspiration to contribute more directly to society.
D. Van Der Straeten was affiliated to the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) for 16 years (from Research Assistant to Research Director). She was appointed as a guest professor at Ghent University in 1992, part-time assistant professor in 1997, associate professor in 1999, and full professor in 2008. She was a visiting professor in Ecuador, Thailand, and Brazil. She published over 200 contributions indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection. Thus far, 19 students have completed their PhD under her guidance. As a course responsible, Dominique teaches 5 courses related to plant physiology and molecular biology, to Bachelor and Masters students in Biochemistry & Biotechnology, and in Biology. In 2014, she was nominated member of Academia Net. In 2016, she was elected to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB).