Rajendra Prasad Ghimire, PhD (a visiting researcher)
Workplace: University of Eastern Finland, Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Kuopio, Finland
Position: Post-doctoral researcher
Research area: Environmental ecology, plant ecology, phytochemistry and global change
Research works: studying chemical defence of conifer tree species in response to biotic and abiotic stress factors, understanding stress-induced volatile plant secondary compounds (PSCs) with the focus on biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) in conifer tree species, and evaluating PSC-mediated ecosystem feedbacks to climate change
Studied how insect herbivory (pine sawflies Neodiprion sertifer Geoffroy, Diprion pini L., and Acantholyda posticalis Matsumura and European spruce bark beetles Ips typographus L.) and climate change factors (warming, ozone and soil nitrogen availability) affect BVOC emissions from boreal conifers (Scots pine and Norway spruce).
Studying the effects of fungal pathogen (Dothistroma septosporum) infection on BVOC profiles of Scots pine in Riistavesi forest site in Kuopio, Finland
Assessing the effects of warming and insect herbivory on BVOC emissions from a birch-dominated subarctic heath ecosystem in an open-field exposure site at Kevo Subarctic Research Station in Utsjoki, Finland
Current workplace (01.01.2020-30.06.2020):
Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Chair of Crop Science and Plant Biology (Head of the Chair: Prof. Ülo Niinemets), Tartu, Estonia
Current project aims:
To assess the effects of long-term warming on BVOC emissions and photosynthesis/CO2 uptake in young seedlings of two dominant conifer tree species (i.e. Norway spruce and Scots pine) in boreal forests.
To use the data collected in the modelling of BVOC emissions in the boreal forest region.
To publish a joint paper using data of this project in a collaboration with Prof. Niinemets’s lab (modelling collaborator: Dr. Steffen M. Noe)
There is hardly anyone doing plant ecology and physiology who is not aware of the TRY database. No need to introduce it, really… TRY started in 2011, and now the second paper about the database is published. With pretty impressive author´s list. As I´ve heard, everyone who had added data to TRY between 2011 and 2019 was invited to be a coauthor. I guess it is a nice way to thank the collaborators with a publication which will be highly-cited. (The first paper has received so far more than 1600 citation according to GScholar; and the new one already has 4 citations.) Once per 10 years it is ok…
Go and use and improve TRY – that is the message here. It´s (more) open now. That´s it! So, I will try something completely different.
One of the most known joke about Estonians among our neighbors is the following: An Estonian is in the zoo. Staring a rhino. And thinking – I wonder what he is thinking of me. We worry about that. A lot… Which is why I compared how we are doing TRY-wise in comparison with our neighbors.
There are 9 coauthors with affiliations to Estonian research institutions:
Kairi Adamson from Tartu Observatory
Aveliina Helm, Ivika Ostonen, Leho Tedersoo, Meelis Pärtel, Kersti Riibak from Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu
Ülo Niinemets, Giacomo Puglielli from Estonian University of Life Sciences
Angelika Portsmuth from Institute of Ecology, Tallinn University
But zero Latvians and zero Lithuanians. And only two Finns!
Citation: Kattge, J., Bönisch, G., Díaz, S., Lavorel, S., Prentice, I. C., Leadley, P., … & Acosta, A. T. (2020). TRY plant trait database–enhanced coverage and open access. Global change biology, 26 (1): 119-188 (link to full paper)
Text by Linda-Liisa Veromann-Jürgenson and Tiina Tosens
We just published a paper about the plausibility of using cuticle thickness in gymnosperms as a proxy for leaf mass per dry area (LMA). It was as the result of a wonderful collaboration between six academic institutes from four countries. The paper titled “Predictability of leaf morphological traits for paleoecological reconstruction: the case of leaf cuticle and leaf dry mass per area” is one of the two papers representing our team in the International Journal of Plant Sciences special issue – Functional Trait Evolution.
The reasoning behind this paper was to test a paleoproxy for estimating LMA from cuticle thickness (CT) in broad-leaved gymnosperms, and expand it across different foliage types and through the light gradient. This LMA-CT paleoproxy is a very attractive concept for assessing past ecosystem properties as cuticles are much more likely to be preserved in fossils than mesophyll. At the same time LMA is connected to many traits underlying the leaf economics spectrum as well as to some growth conditions like CO2 concentration and light availability. Paleoproxies are indeed a great tool to reconstruct the past environmental and ecological conditions for the plant, whose minute piece paleobotanists are studying millions of years later. However, as large generalizations are made based on tiny tiny preserved plant bits, we must make sure the correlations hold across many species and in different conditions. Thus, we tested the LMA-CT relationship on 86 gymnosperm species with broad leaves, needles and scales and used a sub-set to study the effect of growth light conditions on CT as its effect on LMA has been previously well established.
Our results were promising! The proxy could be used for broad- and scale-leaved species, while the correlation does not hold for needles. Importantly, the reliability of the proxy increases for species at the lower end of the leaf economic spectrum (LES) – for species with tough robust leaves with high LMA – which is good considering that many of the so-called “living fossils” belong to that end of LES. However, we advise caution as taxonomy and light conditions affected the LMA-CT relationship, so just measuring CT from a diverse set of fossils may give you wrong results. Further tests distinguishing the morphotype of the fossilized leaf and the LMA-CT relationship in the nearest living relatives should be carried out. Nevertheless, CT on itself can give valuable information about the environmental conditions and stresses for the plant!
Full citation: Veromann-Jürgenson, L. L., Brodribb, T., Laanisto, L., Bruun-Lund, S., Niinemets, Ü., Nuño, S. L., Rinnan, R., Puglielli, G. & Tosens, T. (2019). Predictability of Leaf Morphological Traits for Paleoecological Reconstruction: The Case of Leaf Cuticle and Leaf Dry Mass per Area. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 181(1), https://doi.org/10.1086/706342 (link to full text)
Our power to predict the future relies on our knowledge of the past. Paleoproxies are a powerful tool for understanding environmental and ecological conditions, and changes across different time periods. However, constructing a functioning paleoproxy requires a well-constrained and robustly tested model. This is challenging, especially if ecological traits are involved. In the current study we constructed an extended dataset to test the reliability of the derivation of leaf dry mass per unit area (LMA) from the thickness of fossil gymnosperm cuticle. Specifically, we tested if different leaf types (broad leaves, needles, scales), intraspecific variability in cuticle thickness, and growing conditions affect the functioning of the proxy. Taxonomic groups were analyzed to uncover the possible taxonomic influence on LMA, cuticle thickness and the LMA-CT relationship. Our results indicate that the cuticle thickness versus LMA relationship depends on multiple factors that can have various and incongruous effects on this relationship, depending especially on leaf type and growing conditions. We conclude that cuticle thickness measured from gymnosperm fossils could be used as a proxy for LMA in past ecosystems for some broad- and scale-leaved, but not needle-leaved gymnosperms. However, caution must be taken when comparing species from different environments or growth conditions.
Hello! It’s my pleasure to introduce myself ― I am Upasana Sharma from India, pursuing my PhD in Estonian University of Life Sciences (Environmental sciences and applied biology) under the supervision of Professor Ülo Niinemets and Dr. Kristiina Mark. First of all, I wish to thank my supervisors who found me suitable for the position and selected me for the program.
I am extremely happy to be a part of one of the best plant physiology labs in Europe, lead by a renowned plant physiologist prof. Ülo Niinemets and his team.
I completed my masters (M.Sc. in Botany) from University of Allahabad, India in 2015. Later on, I worked as a science teacher in a school for two years. Then again came back to the research field which was my core interest. After qualifying a National Eligibility Test (CSIR- NET/JRF) for lectureship as well as for research I joined as a junior research fellow the lichenology lab of CSIR- National botanical research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow, India in 2018. One day while working in NBRI I got informed about the PhD position in physiology and ecology of cryptogams in the Estonian University of Life Sciences. The topic was interesting and related to lichens and mosses as I was already working in lichenology. So I was pretty excited to get the opportunity and to gain more knowledge about the physiological and ecological aspect of cryptogams. I applied for the position and was fortunate enough to get selected after many formalities and paperwork.
I will work on the topic “ Cryptogam-associated green algal diversity and stress tolerance in the perspective of global change” during my PhD. As we know, people are working more and more focused on higher plants while cryptogams are less explored. But we should not ignore the crucial role of cryptogams in the ecosystems.
I am also thankful to our plant physiology group members Tiia, Pille, Helina, Piret, and others, who have been very helpful. I am looking forward to give my best in contribution to science as a researcher, and as a person, always try to be a better version of me.