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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


Unexplored potential for more efficient ecosystem restoration

October 2021

Kadri Koorem, Martin Zobel and Guillermo Bueno published a review paper in Functional Ecology in collaboration with the colleagues from the Landscape Ecology Group (Tsipe Aavik and Sabrina Träger) and the Catholic University of Leuven (Olivier Honnay and Maarten Van Geel).

The review explores the potential effects of simultaneously addressing host plant genetic diversity and supporting arbuscular mycorrhizal communities for maximising restoration success. The significance of these two biodiversity components separately in restoration has been well-recognized. However, understanding about the interacting effects of host plant genetic diversity and mycorrhizal communities on the recovery of wild plant populations is very scarce. To start shedding more light on this question, we offer a topic for a potential bachelor thesis. The thesis will give an overview of the intra-specific variation of host plants in relation to the interactions with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. The preparation of the thesis will be supervised by Kadri Koorem and Tsipe Aavik.

Fine-root traits presented in the cover of Nature!

October 2021

What do plant aboveground traits tell us about fine root traits? This is the question asked by group of researchers, including Guillermo Bueno, Mari Moora and Martin Zobel from Plant Ecology Lab, colleagues from the Macroecology Workgroup, Landscape biodiversity group, from Argentina and Canada. 

Results revealed that the aboveground parts of the plant and the fine roots are like different worlds. The set of features visible to us—leaves, stems, seeds—tells very little about fine roots, so that plants that are similar aboveground can have very different roots and vice versa. These exciting results inspired the illustratior Luis Gustavo Barretto and were published in the (cover of) Nature!

Congratulations to all of the authors for an amazing work! Looking forward to see where roots take you next!

Autumn seminar of Plant Ecology Lab

September 2021

Plant Ecology Lab gathered outside regular working environment to discuss about latest scientific results. It was a great pleasure to see all of the lab members, hear about latest achievements and spend time together. Wishing exciting academic year to everybody!

Guillermo González Fradejas, visitor from Spain

September 2021

We have visitor Guillermo González Fradejas for the fall semester through the Erasmus program. He is the fourth year bachelor student from University of Alcalá. He studies AM fungal biodiversity and ecosystem services associated to hedgerows: woody fences in olive orchards and barley fields. Guillermo is supervised by David García and Martti Vasar. While staying here he will study usage of bioinformatics tools, examine our sampling methods and see the lab work. We welcome Guillermo and hope his staying is productive and exciting!

Congratulations, Dr. Vahter!

August 2021

Tanel Vahter defended his PhD thesis titled "Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal biodiversity for sustainable agroecosystems". It was a pleasure to follow the discussion between Tanel and his opponent Professor Jim Bever from the University of Kansas. Congratulations also for the supervisor Maarja Öpik! We wish you exciting discoveries, Tanel!

Professor Mari Moora among influential women biogeographers

August 2021

Journal of Biogeography released virtual issue Women in Biogeography