The research in the lab aims at solving real restoration problems using interdisciplinary approach. The key role of soil microorganisms in restoration is currently the subject of my research. Especially the symbiotic association between plants and arbuscular mychorrhizae fungi (AMF).
Currently my lab has three lines of research:
Phytoremediation: Heavy metal contamination of soil induced by human activities is a major environmental concern. Ongoing research in the lab aims at understanding the role of AMF in uptake of heavy metals by plants. To this end the role of AMF in uptake of lead (Pb) by corn has been studied.
Invasive species: The impact of invasive alien plant species in natural ecosystems is an emerging environmental problem. The role of AMF in the invasion process of non-native plants has been the subject of my research. Members of my lab have been actively carrying out research on the most notorious alien plant species in Southeastern USA such as kudzu. The initial work has shown that invasion of non-native species does result in an alteration in the abundance and composition of resident AMF populations. Current research focuses on to what extend non-native plants alter the structure of the resident AMF community.
Restoration strategies: I have used coastal sand dunes as a model system for restoration strategies. Coastal dune ecosystem have received great attention worldwide. This ecosystem is usually nutrient impoverished and receives frequent disturbances. Restoration of this ecosystem is a challenge for our understanding on ecological processes especially succession and ecosystem functioning. Understanding ecosystem functioning and biology of key-stone species is pivotal for success. During restoration seed germination of key-stone plants is a critical factor in the establishment of plants on sand dunes. Furthermore, seedling establishment and survival depends on judicious nutrient management. The long-term aim of restoration is usually to create a self-sustainable ecosystem. The importance of symbiotic relationship between beneficial soil microorganisms such as AMF is critical. Current research in my lab focuses on the role of AMF in restoring devastated coastal ecosystem.