NSCPHD1070 Root ecology
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SCOPE OF THE COURSE
In the effort to understand nutrient dynamics in plants and accordingly to improve nutrient uptake and use efficiency in crops, the role of the root system is becoming a new area of interest. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the below-ground world is complex and that various interactions occur between roots and their environment and between roots sharing the same soil volume. Root proliferation and functioning must often be modified to cope with the prevailing conditions in the soil environment such as the avoidance of obstacles and the exploitation of nutrient rich patches or water zones. This post-graduate course focuses on root ecology, how roots grow, function and interact with the surrounding environment. We will discuss differences and similarities between roots in natural ecosystems and roots of agricultural plants and how future research and breeding of agricultural plants can exploit the knowledge obtained from natural systems. Topics dealt with are:
Root architecture and foraging
Adaptation and plasticity
Root strategies and plant life history
The course is composed of a series of lectures, subsequent discussions, working group activities, a poster session, and a ‘hands-on’ day at the root research lab of Copenhagen University.
1. Lectures and Discussion
Each day starts with international specialists giving their view on the day’s topic. After each lecture, a discussion of 30 minutes is held, which is convened by about 3 participants who challenge the speaker on the presentation and papers that the speaker submitted and which participants will receive before the course.
2. Poster Carousel
Prior to the course, participants must submit a poster in PDF, which will be printed by the course office (A1-size). The poster must contain your name and affiliation, title and short description of your research project with one highlight (something exciting) and the reason why you want to participate in this course. Posters will be presented and discussed during a poster carousel at the beginning of the course. Posters will remain in the lecture room throughout the course.
3. Working groups
On afternoons (Monday-Thursday) working groups (5-6 persons per group) will envision future development in root research. In these sessions, groups should focus on the cutting edge issue in the field chosen by the group. The ‘million dollar question’ within that field should be defined, presented and justified, and then reshaped by feedback by the speakers and the audience on the Monday evening. Methods and studies which could help answer this question should be suggested and the following three afternoons the groups will work on the assignment writing a position paper or project (pre)proposal. Friday morning groups will present the results.
Note: the invited speakers will stay at least 2-3 days to act as resource persons and interact with participants to support working group activities.
4. Hands-on exercise
On Wednesday we will visit the root research lab of Professor Kristian Thorup-Kristensen in Taastrup, Copenhagen University. Different methods to study roots under field/semi-field conditions will be demonstrated and discussed.
The course is planned in collaboration with Wageningen
Please see www.pe-rc.nl/rootecology for more information, fees and registration.
The course is expected to deliver the following benefits to the participants:
Participants develop a broader overview of current developments in root research
Understanding the complexity of requirements to the root system
Hands-on experience of different root methods, and knowledge on the importance of soil and scale in root research
Exposure to different approaches/philosophies/contexts of research
Critical reflection on their own research approach
The literature for the course will be original peer reviewed papers. Each lecturer will suggest 2 papers to read. The papers will be available to the students before the course.
- 2,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Course participationOral defencePresentation of the Group Work
Critical questions from lecturers
- Exam registration requirements
Active participation in the course
- Marking scale
- completed/not completed
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
- Project work