Ongoing Research Projects
Leaves: Current research in the lab is focusing on dynamic changes in the hydrology of leaves in response to both short and long-term variation in temperature, light, humidity and atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Recent research suggests that leaves can up and down regulate leaf hydraulic conductance in response to changes in energy absorption (e.g. light and air temperature) and ultimately the rates of leaf water loss. The next stage of this research will test if species differences in the sensitivity of leaf hydraulic conductance to changes in energy absorption and evaporation rate are correlated with species distributions across a range of spatial scales (e.g. community to landscape).
Biophysical impacts of genome size variation on plant structure and function.
Recent research in the lab has provided strong evidence that genome size strongly limits minimum cell size which has direct biophysical consequences for the overall structure and function of plant tissues, in particular leaves.
We now know that plants with small genomes can build leaves made of small cells which allows for the construction of leaves with both a high stomatal density and a high vein density, leading to enhanced rates of photosynthetic metabolism.
Future work in the lab will begin to further evaluate plant lineages which have gone through genome expansions and the structural and functional consequences on photosynthetic metabolism, water transport and species distributions.