Janina Dierks (2020 – 2022): Postdoc, now beginning as an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Crop Production at the University of Bonn
With my research I aim to work towards enhanced resilience of agroecosystems on the basis of plant-soil feedbacks, with a specific focus on the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis. During the course of my PhD (Sustainable Agroecosystems Lab at ETH Zurich) and MSc degree (Ecosystem Ecology Lab at Boise State University), I have assessed to what extent plants affect AM fungi (i.e. community structure, abundance, and functioning) and in turn, to what extent AM fungi impact plants (growth, C transfer, and N and P uptake) and soil functioning (decomposition, aggregation, and nutrient retention). Most recently, I provided insight into the functional relationship between agroforestry trees, AM fungi, soil fertility, and maize performance, within a maize-based subsistence farming system in SE Africa. I am particularly interested in using isotopic labeling to trace the flow of C, N, and P between AM fungi and crops within an agroecosystem to learn more about the underlying mechanisms of the AM symbiosis. Currently, in the Agroecology Lab, I am examining the effect of resident versus introduced AM fungi on crop response (i.e., processing and fresh market tomatoes) to water deficit.