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Plant Ecology Laboratory

Research in our lab focuses on diversity patterns in biological communities, and on the interactions underlying these patterns. The main questions we address are: how do communities vary along natural gradients and gradients of human impact? What are the major assembly rules shaping communities; and are they attributable to biotic interactions or environmental heterogeneity? What are the roles of different biotic interactions - including competition, facilitation, herbivory and symbiosis - in structuring communities? Read more

News archive - February

The seminar of Plant Ecology Lab

February 2013

This years seminar of Plant Ecology Lab took place on February 21-22 in Kubija near Võru. Participants of the seminar gave talks about their current as well as forthcoming projects, new ideas and conferences, where the lab members have recently participated. In addition to the members of Plant Ecology Lab, several collaborators from other workinggroups from University of Tartu also participated in the seminar. Sandra Varga, a visitor from Jüväskylä University, presented a very interesting talk about the relationships between mycorrhizal fungi and sexually dimorphic plants and discussed opportunities for further collaborations. 

New paper expands the existing information about global distribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

February 2013

Information about the global distribution of microscopical organisms is limited, and this is also the case with soil- and root-dwelling arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Several members of our team and Department of Botany (Maarja Öpik, Martin Zobel, John Davison, Inga Hiiesalu, Teele Jairus, Jesse M. Kalwij, Kadri Koorem, Jaan Liira, Jaanus Paal, Sergei Põlme, Ülle Reier, Ülle Saks, Odile Thiéry, Martti  Vasar, Mari Moora) have participated in global fieldworks and analysis of the collected samples in order to improve the dataset of AM fungal distribution. The collected data are published in a recent paper, which describes the molecular (DNA-based) diversity of AM fungi in roots of 96 host plant species collected from total of 25 sites from six continents. This study detected a total of 204 AM fungal phylogroups (virtual taxa, VT), which increases the described number of AM fungal VT from 308 to 341 globally. These data improve considerably our knowledge about which AM fungi are associated with which plant species and in which regions they are distributed.

Molecular Ecology acknowledges reviewers

February 2013

Molecular Ecology announces Maarja Öpik as one of its best reviewers! See the full list.

New paper links plant mycorrhizal status with other attributes

February 2013

In a collaboration with colleagues from Germany, Mari Moora, Martin Zobel and Lars Götzenberger have been working on a paper entiteld "Mycorrhizas in the Central European flora - relationships with plant life history traits and ecology", which can now be accessed as preprint version and will be published in Ecology. Using a large comparative dataset, the study investigates the associations between the ability of plant species to form mycorrhizal symbiosis and their biological and ecological attributes. While confirming some previously reported and hypothesized relationships, the study also found new patterns that open up further research in plant-mycorrhizal ecology

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