Research

How do the biotic and abiotic environments interact to drive plant evolution and the development of the terrestrial biosphere?

This key question underpins our research into the physiology, ecology and evolution of atmosphere-plant-rhizosphere interactions in both natural and agro-ecosystems.

 

Today, it is estimated that more than 80% of land plants, representing over 90% of plant families, form mutualistic associations with soil fungi.  These associations are known as ‘mycorrhizas’, or ‘mycorrhiza-like’ in plants without roots.

Through their mycorrhizas, plants are able to assimilate soil nutrients from far beyond areas in the soil that their roots can reach and to access nutrients in different forms already present in the soil. In return, plants supply their fungal partners with carbon in the form of sugars fixed from carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

Our research aims to understand at how mycorrhizas work in both early plant lineages and in crops under changing climates