DDD Conference

Dr. Meredith Schuman

Towards Functional Field Maps for Plant and Agro-Ecology

University of Zurich, Switzerland


The Spatial Genetics group at the University of Zurich works on scalable, spatially resolved investigations of plant functional genetics in the complex real-world settings of forests and cultivated fields. I will discuss approaches for characterizing the distribution of ecologically active plant metabolites in order to determine the relationship between their distribution, and the success of biological control measures as measured by distributions of herbivorous versus beneficial insects, and outcomes for plants. I will present some results from investigations in a native plant system which shares important features with agricultural systems, and theoretical considerations based on chemical ecology and physical chemistry. Then, I will present measurements and projected chemical-ecological maps for a type of sustainable intensification system for agriculture: push-pull intercropping systems, as part of the Horizon 2020 UPSCALE consortium. I will discuss measurements of plant volatile and non-volatile metabolites as indicators of push-pull function, in the context of recent controversies regarding how this system works to control pests, improve soil quality and increase yields.

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