1. Genomic diversity and local adaptation in Alnus glutinosa • Veldwerk: vegetatie-opnamen, water-

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  • 2/9/2013


    1. Genomic diversity and local adaptation in Alnus glutinosa

    The study of genome wide patterns in nucleotide variation reveals both local

    d t ti d t l ti di itadaptation and neutral genetic diversity between populations. Such an approach may be particularly useful to assess current adaptation to climate and the potential to adapt to future climate conditions.

    The association of exceptional marker variation with phenotypic and environmental variation willand environmental variation will provide insight into adaptation. This is especially relevant for Alnus glutionsa, a tree species that occurs from the cold north to the warm south.

    Supervisor: Hanne De Kort

    General objectives We will examine both adaptive and neutral genetic variation between Belgian and foreign (Italian, Danish and French) populations.

    Our most important research questions are:

    • Is Alnus glutinosa adapted to its local growing conditions?

    • How genetically diverged are


    ?g y g Alnus populations, and are the observed patterns different in Flanders than abroad?

    • What are the consequences in the light of climate change?


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    Methodology • Measurement of seedling characteristics in a common garden • Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis based on DNA

    from leaves, and calculation of genetic parameters .

    • Compare seedling characteristics (Qst) with marker (SNP) patterns (Fst) to derive natural selection (Qst-Fst) • Compare common garden approach with genomic approach

    2. The effect of different green roof substrates on drought-adapted Mediterranean plant species

     Promotor: Prof. Honnay  Co-promotor: Prof. Hermy  Supervisor: Van Mechelen CarmenSupervisor: Van Mechelen Carmen

     Problem statement Green roofs show a remarkable rise in urban areas due to the range of benefits they offer. The concept is relatively new and many problems, including optimal material- and plant selection still need to be solved. Although much research is done on the effect of substrate depth, projects that test the effect of different substrate types on the vegetation are scarceare scarce.

     Goal: Test Mediterranean plant species under different substrate types:

    -Traditional extensive green roof substrate (TS) -TS with supplemented organic material -TS enriched with mycorrhiza

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     The experiment, which will take place on the roof of a KU Leuven building, will be set up during spring.

     The student will monitor vegetation performance and environmental variables : % survival, growth, vegetation cover, flowering dynamics, weather conditions, soil temperature and humidity…

     This thesis is a collaboration between the Faculty of Biology and the Di i i f F t N t d L d (BNL) f th F lt f BiDivision of Forest, Nature and Landscape (BNL) of the Faculty of Bio- engineering.

     Peltracom n.v. , the substrate supplier, is an international enterprise with a large assortment of products for landscaping and public green. Results of the experiment are of great interest for the market value of their green roof products.

    3. Mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria for a sustainable fruit culture

    Fruit farms face two major problems:  i) increasingly stringent requirements

    regarding the use of fertilizers and pesticidespesticides

     ii) soil exhaustion, also known as the replant disease.

    .  Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF)

    facilitate the uptake of soil phosphate, water and other essential elements from th il d th f l tthe soil and they may suppress of plant- pathogenic soil fungi and nematodes.

     Aims: (i) select AMF species that enhance apple fruit production and (ii) investigate the effect of bacteria on the AMF association. Supervisor: Maarten Van Geel

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     Part1 o Examine to what extent the ex situ

    cultivation of AMF's is possible o Inoculation experiments of apple

    seedlings to screen AMF's for their effect on growth, protection against environmental stress and the control of soil diseases

     Part 2 o The bacterial community associated with

    apple roots will be characterized using next- generation sequencing. This way, both potential pathogens and mutualists of apple trees can be identifiedtrees can be identified.

    o The bacterial community will be related to the AMF community to identify possible associations between the two

    o Examine which environmental factors have an influence on the bacterial community

    4. Detection of invasive plant species using Hyperspectral Remote Sensing

    Crucial in biodiversity conservation:

    1) development of early warning systems for alien plant invasions and 2) further investigations of their impacts on ecosystem function and


    Recent developments in hyperspectral remote sensing allow the development of high resolution distribution maps of individual invasive species and give direct insight in the changes of the biomass chemistry of invaded ecosystems, and hence in changes in the functioning of ecosystems.


    Invasion of Morella on Hawai

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    1) Hyperspectral characteristics of both important invasive plant species and their co-occurring plant species will be measured throughout the growing season.

    2) Separability of spectral signals will be determined using existing unmixing algorithms

    3) Leaf chemical analyses will be performed.

    This approach will allow to detect the most appropriate time window to detect certain invasive plant species, and to link hyperspectral signals to biochemical composition of the leaves.

    5. Local coadaptation in the mutualistic interaction between Bird vetch (Vicia cracca) and Rhizobium


     Rhizobia supply leguminose plant species with Nitrogen through a mutualistic interaction

     Populations differing in environmental conditions will contain differently coadapted mutualists. Geographic mosaic of coevolution theory predicts: mutualists only well matched in own local community

     You will test this hypothesis with the model system Rhizobium leguminosarum model system Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae, which lives in symbiosis with the plant species Vicia cracca (Vogelwikke)

     We test for Coadaptation along an N- deposition gradient

    Supervisor: Jannick Van Cauwenberghe Promotor: Olivier Honnay

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    Rhizobia from Vicia cracca populations along a Nitrogen deposition gradient throughout Europe have already been collected

     Genotyping of Rhizobium strains through Polymerase Chain Reactions (PCR)

     Several genes will be sequenced: ◦ Chromosomal


    ◦ Plasmid  Relate Rhizobium diversity to N-deposition  Measuring mutualistic performance and

    fitness differences of several combinations of Rhizobium genotypes with plants from different Vicia cracca populations in in vitro conditions.

    Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics

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    6. Abiotische tolerantiegrenzen van een aantal subtypen van laaggelegen schraal hooiland (Alopecurus

    pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)

    EU – habitatrichtlijn vegetatietype; te beschermen in Vlaanderen

    Locaties in Vlaanderen? Afbakening op basis vanLocaties in Vlaanderen? Afbakening op basis van bodem/watertafel?


    Standplaatsonderzoek • Veldwerk: vegetatie-opnamen, water- en bodemstalen nemen, hydrologie opmeten (peilbuizen) • Multivariaat verwerken van de data, database management • Karteren locaties (GIS)

    Meetlocaties Alopecurion 2012


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    7. Effects of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) diversity on the Arabica coffee yield quality and

    quantity in SW Ethiopian afromontane rainforests

     Coffee: second most traded commodity in the worldy  Coffea arabica: origin in mountain rainforest of SW Ethiopia  Intensity of coffee management in Ethiopia strongly differs

    Forest coffee Plantation coffee

    P- uptake

    Disease resistance

    Coffee quality

    454 sequencing : Library design with AMF specific amplicons

    Management intensity

    AMF diversity

    Coffee quantity

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     Field trip to Ethiopia, Jimma (September-October)  IRO grant (deadline 18/03) Coffee bean yield quantification, harvest beans  Laboratory work: determine the quality of coffee

    beans (HPLC) (chlorogenic acid, trigonoline & cafeine)

     Statistical analysis: relate AMF diversity/canopy characteristics/soil characteristics to yield quality and quantity

    Population viability of Round-leaved wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia)

    Round-leaved wintergreen is a rare and declining plant species in Flanders. The species occurs predominantly in dunes along the Flemish coast predominantly in dunes along the Flemish coast, where it can be mostly found in the immediate vicinity of small shrubs (mainly Salix sp.).

    Most populations are small and the species is dependent on mycorrhizal fungi for growth and survival. However, at present little is known about the ecological factors that determine seed set, germination and subsequent seedling establishment in this species.