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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 - September

New paper introduces the concept of virtual taxonomy for DNA-based identification of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi from environmental samples

September 2013

Identification of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi is nowadays commonly performed on the basis of DNA sequences. Species-level identification is possible if a reference database containing sequences originating in expert-identified specimens. However, majority of sequences obtained from environmental studies do not match such reference sequences, being apparently “new” species. The paper introduces the concept of virtual taxonomy which aims to classify such data, stored and systematized in the database MaarjAM. Virtual taxa are phylogenetically defined sequence groups which are based on a type sequence to make them consistent in time, but they also evolve as new data becomes available. Virtual taxonomy standardises the original sequence designations, and allows comparison and consistency between studies, much like traditional binomial taxonomic nomenclature. Virtual taxonomy has been used in our team since 2009, and is increasingly used by other research groups. 

Plant species which are characteristic to flooded meadows can be found in soil seed bank years after abandonment

September 2013

Jaak-Albert Metsoja, Lena Neuenkamp and Martin Zobel studied the restoration potential of the persistent soil seed bank (SB) in abandoned flooded meadows in central Estonia. Although SB similarity to locally defined target vegetation was <20%, the proportion of typical flooded meadow species in SB remained high (up to 42%) even after 50-yr abandonment. SB could thus play an important role in the restoration of abandoned meadows. Read the full article.

Maarja Öpik is now an editor in New Phytologist

September 2013

Senior Research Fellow of Plant Ecology Lab, Maarja Öpik is now an editor in the journal New Phytologist. Congratulations for the new and exciting task! Read also the article addressing mycorrhizas and the journal New Phytologist. 

Plant Ecology Lab welcomes new members

September 2013

Our lab is happy to welcome new members: PhD student Maret Gerz and master student Siim-Kaarel Sepp!

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