Title: “Redwoods, Roots, and Fungi: Exploring Plant Physiology and Ecology” with Claire Willing of UC Berkeley
with an opening presentation from students from the Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MSEL) on Air Pollution in the Bay Area (7:15 – 7:30 pm)
Date, Time, Location: Wednesday, November 14th, 2018; 7:30 – 8:30 pm at Terra Linda HS in San Rafael, Room 207
Description: The plant microbiome has proven to be an essential and often overlooked aspect of plant physiological ecology. Plant interactions with microbes are thought to have enabled the transition of plants from aquatic to terrestrial systems and the co-evolution of these relationships has been shown to have important consequences for plant performance, nutrient cycling, and potentially even plant species ranges. However, our knowledge of these processes derives from only a few model systems. Claire’s dissertation research explores these relationships in coast redwood forests where, despite their notoriety, plant-microbial relationships remain unexplored. Redwoods are the largest and some of the oldest plants on Earth, yet their geographical ranges are very constrained. As such, redwood forests serve as an excellent system to explore plant-microbial interactions and how they might expand or limit species ranges.
Claire Willing is interested plant-fungal symbioses including with mycorrhizal fungi, a group symbiotic, root-associated fungi. Her work has taken her from throughout the coast redwood range up through the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and most recently, even to Brazil. Her overall interest is in linking fungal community ecology to plant physiological performance, a trend which she hopes to continue to explore throughout her future work.