I am an ecophysiologist broadly interested in how environmental and biological controls influence the exchange of carbon dioxide and water vapour between plants and the atmosphere. I use a range of techniques to gain deeper insight into these processes including the measurement of stable isotope compositions of carbon dioxide and water vapour, which are altered by photosynthesis and transpiration. In my previous work within the Farquhar group, I developed new methods to test the theory of 18O-photosynthetic discrimination, with the aim to improve the estimation of mesophyll conductance and the saturation level of water vapour inside the leaf.  Both of these plant attributes cannot directly be measured, but are important to our understanding of what limits carbon assimilation. 

The aim of my current work with the Physiological Plant Ecology group is to identify the key biochemical and physiological processes that determine the metabolic information recorded in the stable hydrogen composition of plant organic compounds such as leaf wax lipids, sugars and cellulose (HYDROCARB project). In doing so, I hope to contribute to the development of a new proxy for the carbon metabolism of plants that can be used to understand how plants have and are responding to climate change.

Education and Professional Experience

2018 – ongoing Postdoctoral Researcher, Group of Prof Ansgar Kahmen, University of Basel
2013-2018 Postdoctoral Researcher, Group of Prof Graham Farquhar, Australian National University
2012-2013 Postdoctoral Researcher, Group of Prof Adrienne Nicotra, Australian National University
2007-2011 PhD, School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania under the supervision of Prof Timothy Brodribb, Prof Danny Donaghy and Assoc. Prof Richard Rawnsley.
2003-2006 Bachelor of Agricultural Science, with First Class Honours, University of Tasmania

Key Publications 

Busch, F. A., Holloway-Phillips, M., Stuart-Williams, H. & Farquhar, G. D. (2020). Revisiting carbon isotope discrimination in C3 plants shows respiration rules when photosynthesis is low. Nature Plants, 6, 245-258.

Holloway-Phillips, M., Cernusak, L. A., Stuart-Williams, H., Ubierna, N., Farquhar, G. D. (2019). Two-source d18O method to validate the CO18O-photosynthetic discrimination model: implications for mesophyll conductance. Plant Physiology, 181, 1175-1190.

Ubierna, N., Cernusak, L. A., Holloway-Phillips, M., Busch, F. A., Cousins, A. B., Farquhar, G. D. (2019). Critical review: incorporating the arrangement of mitochondria and chloroplasts into model of photosynthesis and carbon isotope discrimination. Photosynthesis Research, 141, 5-31.

Cernusak, L. A., Barbour, M., Arndt, S., Cheesman, A., English, N., Field, T., Helliker, B., Holloway-Phillips, M. et al. (2016).  Stable isotopes in leaf water of terrestrial plants. Plant Cell and Environment, 39, 1087-1102.

Holloway-Phillips, M., Cernusak, L. A., Barbour, M., Song, X., Cheesman, A., Munksgaard, N., Stuart-Williams, H., Farquhar, G. D. (2016). Leaf vein fraction influences the Péclet effect and 18O enrichment in leaf water. Plant, Cell & Environment, 39, 2414-2427.

Brodribb, T. J., Holloway-Phillips, M.M., & Bramley, H. (2015) Improving water transport for carbon gain in crops, in “Crop Physiology: Applications for Genetic Improvement and Agronomy” (2nd edition), eds. V. O. Sadras and D. F. Calderini, Academic Press.

Holloway-Phillips, M.M. & Brodribb, T.J. (2011).  Contrasting hydraulic regulation in closely related forage grasses: Implications for plant water use.  Functional Plant Biology, 38, 594-605.

Holloway-Phillips, M.M. & Brodribb, T.J (2011).  Minimum hydraulic safety leads to maximum water use efficiency in a forage grass.  Plant Cell and Environment, 34, 302-313.


holloway profile photo

Dr. Meisha Holloway-Phillips

University of Basel
Schönbeinstrasse 6
4056 Basel

Ofice no.: 01.015
Phone: +41 (0)61 207 35 18
Email: m.holloway-phillips@unibas.ch