Marlien van der Merwe

Scientific Officer


Marlien van der Merwe is a Scientific Officer specialising in restoration and conservation genomics at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney's Research Centre for Ecosystem Resilience. She is dedicated to repairing damaged and degraded ecosystems to ensure their self-sustainability for future generations. 

Marlien is responsible for various projects, including ‘Restore and Renew’, and developing guidelines to maximise genetic representativeness in germplasm collections. With her expertise, Marlien plays a vital role in advancing research and applying practical solutions in the field of biodiversity preservation. 

A typical day for Marlien involves analysing data, writing, reviewing or editing scientific papers, germinating seeds for experiments, and communicating with field workers. She finds the most satisfaction engaging in practical work, but also enjoys collaborating with colleagues and witnessing the outcomes of their research in publications and applied to on ground restoration and conservation activities.

Marlien's passion for plants extends beyond her professional life. She is particularly interested in the intricate relationships between plants and other organisms, which has led her to explore the fascinating world of plant microbiomes. By understanding the complexities of ecosystems and their historical and present dynamics, Marlien strives to improve future conservation efforts. 

Marlien recalls with fondness the moment she discovered that Fritillaria meleagris, a tiny bulbous plant, possesses one of the largest genomes among Angiosperms. With this knowledge their magical beauty became an important reminder of the importance of the maintenance of genetic diversity to sustain life on earth.

Marlien's expertise and commitment to conservation and restoration makes her an invaluable asset to the Gardens’ team, ensuring the preservation of diverse and thriving ecosystems for generations to come.