Merging plant physiology, ecology and evolutionary biology

An ongoing research theme in the group has been to use functional approaches to exploring fundamental ways for “how plants cope” to the wide range of biotic and abiotic environments they inhabit. This requires detailed investigations into the unique morphological, anatomical and physiological adaptations they possess in relation environmental characteristics like resource limitations, stress from many different sources, or in response to symbionts or competitors.

Placing such information into a broad ecological and evolutionary (often phylogenetic) context as well becomes central to understanding the origin and the “basis of adaptation” to diverse environments or challenges. Such research requires making detailed morphological, anatomical and physiological measurements in relation to contrasting habitat types or along environmental gradients and in research “gardens” where pivotal factors that we know influence plant performance can be controlled or manipulated. When appropriate or possible these types of data are placed into a phylogenetic context. These types of projects also very much interface with key research projects being done in David Ackerly and Paul Fine’s research groups.