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Research

I study various aspects of plant morphology and ecophysiology: water uptake of crop plants, desert species and temperate trees under salinity and drought, root architecture and physiology, and root system plasticity under intra- and inter-specific competition. I maintain my interests in plant carbon metabolism under salinity and drought, with an emphasis on root turnover, respiration, and exudation, and develop advanced approaches and methodologies which could enhance belowground studies.

Due to its complexity, and methodological limitations, the relevance of root system traits for plant stress tolerance strategies has been largely neglected. Some of my ongoing studies are based on the assumption that root system functioning as a whole is related to the traits of specific root orders (i.e. branching hierarchy) or specialized roots. A long-term goal of my research is to provide a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms which determine how root system architecture and physiology respond to environmental constraints to optimise the (carbon-) efficiency of resource use. This knowledge will allow for implementing "root-targeted selection/breeding strategies" for more stress tolerant crop plants and tree ecotypes/clones.
A word cloud of published manuscript titles can be found on the right. 


Examples of current projects:
  • Influence of nitrogen nutrition form on root morphology and physiology .
  • Impact of mycorrhization on root development and stress melioration (in collaboration with Dr. H. Göransson).
  • Changes in soil organic matter and decomposition due to defoliation of sub-Arctic birch stands by insect outbreaks (in collaboration with Dr. Hans Göransson, DI Mathias Mayer, Project funding: C-DEFOL)
  • Effect of roots and mycorrhizal mycelia on CO2 efflux and soil organic matter. Part: Root dynamics. 
  • Physiological and morphological differences between the root orders of deciduous tree species.
  • Root phenotyping (FP7 EUROLEGUME, PhD thesis Jiangsan Zhao)
  • Carbon storage and soil biodiversity in forest landscapes in Ethiopia: Knowledge base and participatory management (in collaboration with Prof D.L. Godbold, et al.)