Members of the Terraform team take part in the first Irish Paleo Forum (IPF) in Cork

The first Irish Paleo Forum (IPF) - Cork, January 2024

On January 18th, our lab members, Antonietta Knetge, Catarina Barsboa and William Matthaeus joined fellow Irish palaeontologists for the first Irish Paleo Forum (IPF) meeting at University College Cork. The organisation of the IPF was proposed by Prof. Maria McNamara, Dr. Chris Mays, and our own, Prof. Jennifer McElwain. The forum aims to enhance the palaeontology community in Ireland by offering an open space for current research, communication and innovation. Members of Trinity College Dublin’s Plant Climate Interaction lab look forward to participating in future IPF meetings, making history in Ireland for the bright future of palaeontology.


How to bring extinct plants ‘Back to Life' - publication by Will Matthaeus and Jenny McElwain

How to bring extinct plants ‘Back to Life.’

An obvious question to many might be “why study plant fossils?” Of course, some people just think they are amazing on their own. But there are ways that plant fossils can help us understand how Earth’s different systems work together. One framework for this approach is described by the recent review A Systems Approach to Understanding How Plants Transformed Earth’s Environment in Deep Time by TERRAFORM postdoc Will Matthaeus and PI Jenny McElwain among others. First, the plant fossil record tells us that at least part of Earth has been covered by plants since they evolved nearly half-a-billion years ago, even though the climate has been very different at times. The fossil record also shows that plants have changed so much since their start that at times they may have been nearly alien to our modern eyes. Finally, using ecosystem process models to incorporate measurements from plant fossils with climate simulations, we can estimate how extinct plants may have performed in the climates they experienced hundreds of millions of years in the past. Reaching so far back requires the expertise of several different kinds of scientists all working closely together to carefully develop solutions to a diverse array of challenges, and will allow us to understand the whole story of how the Earth we know came to be.

Copyright © 2022 Matthaeus, Montañez, McElwain, Wilson and White.
Citation: Matthaeus WJ, Montañez IP, McElwain JC, Wilson JP and White JD (2022) Stems matter: Xylem physiological limits are an accessible and critical improvement to models of plant gas exchange in deep time. Front. Ecol. Evol. 10:955066. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2022.955066

Open Access Publication

Dr Richard Nair awarded SFI-Royal Society University research fellowship

Dr Richard Nair awarded SFI-Royal Society University research fellowship

RODEO: Root Dynamics for Ecosystem Observation is a SFI-Royal Society University research fellowship awarded to Dr Richard Nair. RODEO is an 8-year project where Richard and the interdisciplinary RODEO team will build on his previous work building instruments and AI methods to understand root phenology (seasonal cycles) and use this to understand the links between root and shoot phenology. Phenology is important because it affects how much CO2 is taken up by vegetation and thus how plant life can buffer climate change. But most phenology information is only above ground, so if the changing environment causes differences in root and leaf activity, we cannot understand this from above-ground observations only leading to uncertainty in future predictions. RODEO will allow the team to study the links between whole plant phenology and CO2 uptake and release under real field conditions, and help improve forecasts, adaptions, and management of climate change.

 

RootCheck: Image-Based Root Health Assessment Tools for Sustainable Agriculture

RootCheck is a SFI-funded National Challenge Fund project, led by Dr Richard Nair with co-PI Dr Saoirse Tracy at University College Dublin. Health and physiological syndromes can affect roots and leaves differently, but there are no tools to help assess root health under field conditions. Generally, roots are much more difficult to measure than leaves, but root health status may not be visible above-ground. RootCheck will develop new tools for rapid and non-destructive in-field assessment of root health status using a combination of cheap sensors and artificial intelligence methods. RootCheck will build an interdisciplinary team to approach this challenge with an end-user focus. The output of RootCheck will help ensure data parameterized agricultural systems, helping ensure long-term agricultural sustainability and productivity in uncertain future conditions.