The BayCEER Colloquium is an interdisciplinary platform for students, scientists and interested citizens: Usually lectures are held weekly (during the lecture period) in the field of ecology and environmental sciences, which can then be discussed in plenary and in a relaxed atmosphere during the post-colloquium. You are welcome to bring your own lunch (brown bag lunch).

Programm Colloquium Summer 2024
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Scheduling upcoming semester and lecture archive BayCEER Kolloquium

Lecture series in Ecology and Environmental Research WS 2021/22

All lecture dates
Dr. Vincent Merckx
Research Group Leader Understanding Evolution, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, Netherlands (Homepage)
Thursday, 21.10.2021 12:15-13:45

Mycoheterotrophy: an uncharted carbon flux in the plant world

Plants need sunlight, water, and soil nutrients to grow. A part of the carbon produced by photosynthesis in the foliage is transferred to root-associated ‘mycorrhizal’ fungi, which help plants to take up nutrients and water from the soil. This carbon can be subsequently taken up by non-green plants that tap into the same fungal network: fully mycoheterotrophic plants. Although fully mycoheterotrophic plants represent only a tiny fraction of plant diversity, they demonstrate that carbon uptake from mycorrhizal fungi is a successful plant strategy to thrive in low light conditions. Indeed, some relatives of fully mycoheterotrophic plants are partially mycoheterotrophic: they can combine autotrophy and mycoheterotrophy when light or seed reserves are insufficient for growth. We currently assume that that up to 9% of all plant species are capable of some form of mycoheterotrophy (mostly orchids). However, based on recent isotopic evidence a new form of partial mycoheterotrophy has been discovered, which advances the hypothesis that an additional 35% of land species are capable of mycoheterotrophy and can survive in low-light habitats by receiving carbon from root-associated arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.

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Vincent Merckx was selected as Senior Fellow of the Bayreuth Humboldt Centre 2020 with the project "Carbon transfer in arbuscular mycorrhizal networks" and is hosted by BayCEER members Gerhard Gebauer and Johanna Pausch.



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