Antonietta Knetge Attends Specialised Training at University Claude Bernard

Antonietta Knetge Attends Specialised Training at University Claude Bernard

A member of our lab, PhD researcher Antonietta Knetge, has recently returned from two weeks of training with Prof. Bernard Gomez at the University Claude Bernard 1 in Lyon, France. 

From the training, she learned cuticle preparation techniques on Cretaceous fossil material. The training covered: the extraction of plant material from water-soluble sediment, sorting of dried plant material by taxa, chemical preparation, and dissection of foliar cuticle for light microscopy and SEM analysis. 

All materials prepared were from Cretaceous localities in France with a principal focus on gymnosperms and particularly the conifer Frenelopsis, to determine its habit and ecology.

'Carbon Dioxide Assimilation in Plants: from Genome to Biome' - Gordon's Research Conference 2023

Two of our lab members Prof. Jennifer McElwain and Dr. Christos Chondrogiannis had the privilege of attending a Gordons Research Conference (GRC) on the topic of photosynthesis from 7th – 12th of May 2023. The conference took place at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, a tranquil estate nestled in the lush hilltops of Tuscany, Italy.

The conference, titled “CO2 Assimilation in Plants from Genome to Biome”, brought together researchers from leading labs, from PhDs making the first steps in their career to famous, well-established researchers of photosynthetic studies. The aim of the conference was to advance frontiers in the field of photosynthesis by showcasing cutting edge and unpublished research on a wide suite of plants, from rare species to widely cultivated crops. The rigorous discussions that happened between researchers informally were a highlight of the event. Fruitful discussions that stretched over lunch and well into the evening led to the genesis of new ideas and future collaborations.

Prof. Jennifer McElwain presented the final talk of the conference, titled ‘Reconstructing Terrestrial Ecosystem Function in Deep Time using Paleo-Plant Traits and Paleo-Ecosystem Modelling’. McElwain discussed the importance of accurate estimates and reconstructions of atmospheric CO2 through deep time. She also presented her idea of paleo-traits, the application of modern plant functional trait ecology within palaeobotany, which will enable reconstruction of plant activity in paleo-environments.

Dr. Christos Chondrogiannis presented a poster titled ‘Photosynthetic rate as a focal trait to assess plant weathering rate across evolutionary groups’, detailing how his chamber experiments aim to establish a correlation between photosynthesis and weathering rates and uncover information on how these processes interact. Chondrogiannis also had the pleasure of attending a workshop on the 6th of May, titled “Photosynthetic efficiency in a changing environment.”

EGU23 General Assembly - Vienna 2023

The EGU23 General Assembly was held in Vienna from 14-19 April 2023. Located on an island in the magical Danube, the warm and welcoming Austria Center Vienna welcomed the 15,453 attendees from 107 countries around the world. The conference was a great success, as 16,357 presentations were given in 938 different sessions.

TERRAFORM was represented by Christos Chondrogiannis, William Matthaeus and Richard Nair.

Christos Chondrogiannis gave an oral presentation in the session “Co-evolution of life and the Earth, and major transitions in Earth’s biosphere and environment” titled “TERRAFORM: Trait ecology and Biogeochemical cycles in deep time”. He presented the goals of TERRAFORM project, how plants affect the biogeochemical cycles, and how modern trait ecology can be implemented in the fossil record to inform us about plant activity in the deep time.

William Matthaeus had a poster titled “Moisture seasonality as a differential driver of modelled forest distribution during the Pennsylvanian” presenting part of his recent work. Specifically, by using the Paleo-BGC ecosystem process model, he showed simulation evidence supporting the long-held inference that moisture seasonality explains the spatial distribution of the major plant types of the late Paleozoic ice age.

Finally, Richard Nair, presented a poster titled “Day-night root dynamics change through the growing season”, where he showed shifts in the diurnal pattern of root growth during the growing season. Richard, was also a co-convener at the session titled “Vegetation functional responses to global change across multiple methods and scales” and presented during the townhall meeting for the CLEANFOREST EU COST action.

Many participants were interested in the work of the attending TERRAFORM members, with a high level of engagement around the presentations. In addition, the members of the group had the opportunity to attend presentations related to their research interests. At the same time, fruitful discussions and acquaintances with emerging and distinguished scientists took place.