- As part of the SASA leadership collective, to contribute to the fulfilment of the organisation’s mission and strategic objectives.
- In conjunction with the SASRI Director and leadership team, to ensure that the management of the institute is aligned with stakeholder-ratified strategic objectives and good governance principles.
- To determine the strategic direction of the SASRI research programme through internal and external consultation to promote the long-term sustainability of the sugar industry.
- To provide pro-active leadership and effective management and administration of the SASRI research programme to ensure provision of relevant, practical and high quality agricultural solutions to stakeholders.
- In conjunction with the research management team, to develop a programme of research and technology development that is precisely aligned with those of the SASRI operations, knowledge management and extension environments and which results in the development of cost-effective solutions that are seamlessly transferred and readily adopted by stakeholders.
- To co-ordinate, guide and inspire the rigour and relevance of research activities and performance of SASRI Research Staff.
- To develop and participate in initiatives that promote the well-being and professional development of SASRI Research Staff.
- Molecular plant physiology.
- Research management.
Regulation of sucrose accumulation, particularly the role played by sugar sensing and signalling mechanisms in mediating the relationship between source and sink activities.
- In conjunction with research collaborators and post-graduate students:
Demonstrated that the sink strength (stalk sucrose content) is an important determinant of source activity (leaf photosynthesis), a relationship that may underpin certain agronomic phenomena (e.g. reduced spring growth).
- Identified commonalities in the signalling and transduction pathways for aluminium-induced and oxidative stress in sugarcane roots.
- Through gene expression profiling, found evidence that hypoxia may play a role in the regulation of stalk carbohydrate metabolism.
Van Heerden PDR, Donaldson R, Watt DA & A Singels (2010). Biomass accumulation in sugarcane – unraveling the factors underpinning reduced growth phenomena. Journal of Experimental Botany 61: 2877-2887.
McCormick AJ, Watt DA & MD Cramer (2009). Supply and demand: sink regulation of sugar accumulation in sugarcane. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 357-364.
McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Culm sucrose accumulation promotes physiological decline of mature leaves in ripening sugarcane. Field Crops Research 108: 250-258.
McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Differential expression of genes in the leaves of sugarcane in response to sugar accumulation. Tropical Plant Biology 1: 142-148.
McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Regulation of photosynthesis by sugars in sugarcane leaves. Journal of Plant Physiology 165: 1817-1829.
McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Changes in photosynthetic rates and gene expression of leaves during a source-sink perturbation in sugarcane. Annals of Botany 101: 89-102.
- Honorary Senior Lecturer (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College).
- MSc (Witwatersrand), HDipEd (PG) PhD (Natal).