Thomas Guzman will defend his PhD thesis titled “Are leaf chemical and spectral traits integrators of mycorrhizal fungal-plant associations?“, next Thursday 30th of March at 2pm. The defence is open to everyone and will take place in the conference room of the new C1 building on the INRAE campus of La Grande Ferrade. More details about it below.

Mycorrhizas are below-ground symbioses formed between plant roots and soil fungi, widespread in the plant kingdom and across terrestrial ecosystems. Now it’s becoming clear that plant functional types (PFTs) are strongly associated to different kind of fungal partners such as arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) or ectomycorrhizae (EM), and that the dominance of mycorrhizal types in ecosystems contribute to and reflect different ecological processes such as biochemical cycles.

Despite the growing interest in including mycorrhizal dominance in global models of the terrestrial biosphere to measure their respective impacts on ecological processes, current global mycorrhizal maps are still coarse. However, encouraging results have been obtained using remote sensing techniques and correlations between canopy spectral properties and mycorrhizal partners have been observed, although the mechanistic basis for these interactions is not yet well established.

Thus, the first objective of this thesis is to explore the primary and secondary metabolites of leaves of important European tree species to characterize which key metabolites may distinguish AM and EM associated plants. In parallel, the second objective of this thesis is to explore the leaf reflectance of these species to see how the chemical fingerprints observed between mycorrhizal types can lead to observable spectral fingerprints at the leaf or canopy level.

Keywords: mycorrhizae – leaf traits – spectral reflectance – metabolomics – secondary compounds

Jury: Professor Dominique Rolin (University of Bordeaux); Professor Duncan Cameron (University of Sheffield); Professor Amy Zanne (University of Miami); Dr Vincent Jassey (University Paul Sabatier); Dr Sylvain Jay (University of Montpellier)

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